Today I would like to ask the question, what is going on over at ABH (Anastasia Beverly Hills)? Have they slipped from being a respected and iconic luxury brand into mainstream mediocrity? Is the ColorPop business model becoming the new norm? What does it mean not just for your beauty dollars but also the environment and jobs?
To answer these questions; we need to take a quick look at the background of both companies. ColorPop was established in 2014, and from the start, it set out to be ‘the fast fashion’ of the makeup world. They offer drugstore price points, decent quality products, lots of collaborations, and an endless stream of offerings.
Although they always manage to release an on-trend palette, if it something that you covet as a buyer, you need to jump quickly and order. Fast makeup is here today and gone in weeks. Aimed at the teenage market, the prices and constant offerings help move the product immediately and effectively. The target market is used to picking and choosing from the offerings available and doesn’t feel the pressure to purchase based on release but instead based on current trends in the market.
Anastasia Beverly Hills was established in 1997 and quickly became an iconic company. Known for creating the best brows on the market ( starting with Cindy Crawford) the ABH brand was built to service a mid-priced luxury consumer. Utilizing super high quality and unique color schemes, ABH became a coveted COLLECTOR brand. ( If you aren’t familiar with collector brands, these are often brands where many people will own or have in their collections every product from every launch. Many of these products are kept even after expiration as a sort of status symbol showcasing a love for a brand.) This brand loyalty was developed with the anticipation of each launch, the desire to be the first one in the neighborhood to have the product, the value association from investing money into the brand. The target market has long been the working professional who enjoys the more beautiful things in life.
With the ability to create intense levels of desire in the consumer, ABH releases create strong reactions in consumers. From the most loved Modern Renaissance palette to the mistakenly ostracized Subculture palette reactions for and against run strong. A common theme is that consumers get excited about releases, they love or hate them, and product flies off the shelves.
Fast forward to 2019, and change is in the air. ABH investors apply pressure to the company to release more new products in a shorter period. The reasoning investors have simple. Money. The launch of a palette per year is lovely, it gives the market a lot of time to buy into a desirable product, people buy it…and then there is a drop in sales, which translates into a decline in profits, which investors don’t like. What investors have been pushing for is frequent, small edition releases. The theory behind it is this: If the offering is small is product production size, more people will feel the pressure to buy it, which will bring up sales numbers if customers regularly see something new they will be excited and feel the desire to buy it.
While this is going on in the background, the beautiful and business-savvy president of ABH Claudia Soare (better known as Norvina) decides to hold a massive open audition across social media for her PR list. Chaos ensues across all social media platforms. ( PR lists work based on influencers popularity, skill, talent, and willingness to promote a brand. The members on the PR list usually send upcoming launches in advance so that they have a chance to review the product and promote and hype it on social media, YouTube, etc.) Some make it onto the list based on their level of talent while other’s make it based on accusations of discrimination.
What could only be seen as a resounding success is plunged back to earth when the revelation that some of the PR packages valued at $5000USD are being sent out and in some cases, resold. Again, chaos ensues. Amid the chaos, we see the debut of the Rivieria palette. A bold and beautiful offering with outstanding ABH quality, and a consumer could literally not escape seeing this online.
In my mind, that was the last release of the iconic ABH era. In short order, we see the shift from collector brand to the mainstream. Hot on the heels of Riviera’s release is the Alyssa Edward’s palette, the Jackie Aina palette, Body Shimmer oils, Primer, Foundation, and the Norvina Pro Palettes Vol.1, 2 and 3 in as many weeks. Releases are happening so quickly Sephora wasn’t even able to get all the releases into stock and on display before the next one appeared on the scene. I spoke to a cast member at my local Sephora who told me that they haven’t received all of the foundation shades and that Norivina Pro palettes are in boxes in the back room.
To further along with the confusion, prices for eye palette release are still hovering at the CAD 60 mark. ( The prices for the Norvina Pro Pigment Palettes are CAD 79 (at 25 shades instead of 14 it is a pretty decent price deal.)) This move is designed to eliminate the collector from the mix. Those consumers who would save up to purchase ABH are being priced out of the market. The consumers who can afford to buy each launch won’t get the value out of it and will stop buying, and the level of buyer fatigue will spike in short order.
Does this look like a high priced ColorPop business model to you? It does to me. Let’s look a bit deeper. ColorPop is cruelty-free ( not sold in the People’s Republic of China), and made in the USA. The argument could be made that they are supporting the American economy and supporting animal welfare. In some cases ,they are offering the product with minimal packaging, and many of the components are recyclable. There is also an option to order individual products that you know you want instead of a palette where there is always something that doesn’t get used. ( I would hazard a guess that they have a hectic artistic design and marketing team.)
ABH has a similar stance in a lot of ways. They are cruelty-free, consumers can order individual products, and they are proudly made in the USA. Well, they were. The recent Norvina Pro Pigment launches are being made in China. Is this move taking employment away from American workers? Is it reducing the quality of the product? Is it opening ABH to a slide down the brand ladder? Maybe, maybe not. For now, the quality still stands at ABH. I have tried the ABH foundation, primer, body oil, and checked out the recent palette releases. They are all stunning. What I haven’t done is purchase it all. Or more technically, any of it. I would have bought the foundation had it been available in my shade, but the sheer amount of stuff available is too overwhelming. Think of it this way, does anyone really need to add 117 extra eyeshadows to their collection in 7 months? No. Unless you are a working makeup professional, you wouldn’t be able to scratch the surface of all those shades.
I own the vault collections for both lips and shadows (sitting next to me on my desk), and it literally can take forever to get through to pan on a single shadow let alone an entire palette. Palettes are only good for a certain amount of time, and wasting money and product are both generally ill-advised. So, even though I was a collector, I can’t collect everything anymore. I am curious how many others out there are feeling the same pressures to just stop buying everything that comes out?
What do you think? Do you believe ABH is slipping into a high-level of ColorPop? Do you support ColorPop or ABH? Do you find yourself still purchasing every launch? Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter @everydaybeaut11. I will love to know if anyone else notices the trend. Don’t forget to subscribe and share us with your friends.