Beauty Business News November 2023

Beauty Business News November 2023

Sephora is in hot water in the US for failing to provide enough server power to support their Savings Event this month leaving some customers waiting for 12 hours in an on-line queue.

As you might imagine, their Instagram blew up with commenters wondering how they could be so unprepared but at the time of writing, Sephora did not respond other than an app message saying that shoppers would be let in when ‘traffic numbers subside’. Turns out that it is very expensive indeed to boost up server power – probably more expensive than any lost sales.

I think I love this first – gin perfume. Actually made from gin. Sylvan Mist Gin is both consumable and wearable – the absolute dilemma of heading out and wondering whether to spritz it or drink it. Actually, you probably wouldn’t drink it because it’s $80. It’s a complex process to create a multi-functional gin – they use a very high proof alcohol to infuse Boronia flower, a pricy element described as having raspberry/apricot/violet and freesia vibes. Apparently, it has honey dew melon notes and fresh grass. Cheers.

In my last BBN I speculated that L’Oreal was shuttering Decleor and that’s been recently confirmed. L’Oreal have given little explanation other than in a letter to spas and salons saying, ‘a heavy impact from the international economic and health crisis of the past years, which has aggravated the fragility of the brand and impacted its viability”.

Consumers have started a Ban Huda Beauty Petition (with over 8k signatures and counting), such is the strength of feeling about her commentary on the war, putting retailers under pressure to de-list the brand. The brand subsequently donated $1 million to Gaza charities. I can see how strongly beauty is dividing over this – it’s clear on my Instagram feed every single day and feelings are understandably strong. I’m being careful because I’m still educating myself on the history of what led to where we are now but feel deeply for my beauty friends caught up and with friends and family who are suffering.

Prop 65 (California Proposition 65) is a displayed notification warning that you may come into contact with a chemical on the Prop 65 list (carbon monoxide, lead, plastic chemicals i.e.). Since 1988, over 30,000 violation notices have been filed by citizen prosecutors and they’re starting to include the beauty industry. In February 2023, a law suit was filed against Sephora for failing to tell customers, following a notification, that its face powders contain titanium dioxide with no warning label, reportedly required by Prop 65, and Pat McGrath has also been served. The main activators of Prop 65 digressions is a company called Environmental Health Advocates. According to the North California Record, in 2019 more than 900 businesses settled close to $30m in Prop 65 claims – 80% of which went to pay the lawyers who brought the lawsuits. The list of chemicals for which a Prop 65 warning can be served is over 900 naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals.

As you know, big corporations have many tentacles – Unilever is closing its in house brand incubator, The Uncovery. The platform specialized in nurturing and accelerating indie brands with appropriately indie names – Duck Lip Vibes, Ferver Skincare (ferment), For Every Type, Mojo Wellbeing, Natur-Alternatives and The Good Stuff. Almost all the brands have now closed – although I believe there is still stock of Ferver. In house incubators shot up in popularity a few years ago – I mean, why leave it to entrepreneurs when corporates can take a piece of the pie? Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t with the difference being that accountability doesn’t lie with hopeful brands to be but with the bottom line on share prices. At the same time, another Unilever tentacle – the venture capital arm of Unilever (Unilever Ventures) has put funding into fragrance brand, 7 Virtues. If you’re not yet done with Unilever news, the company has sold their grooming brand, Dollar Shave Club and given their CEO a pay freeze until 2026. Shareholders were livid and made their feelings known when it was announced that Hein Schumacher’s salary would be EU1.9 million.

Somewhat predictably the UK got into a flap at the launch of a Baby Dior fragrance, Bonne Etoile for £230, created by Dior’s in house fragrance, Francis Kirkdjian who once scented Regent Street with the perfumed bubbles he made for his young niece. Mumsnet has no time for it whatsoever. The French and Spanish have always been more open to scenting their babies than we have – for some reason the notion sends the British sensibilities into their highest dissaprovement mode. Bonne Etoile is more of a scented water than a fragrance – perhaps even more upsetting for anyone under pressure to part with £230.

Johnson & Johnson

According to Fortune, Johnson & Johnson is considering its third bankruptcy filing with 50K lawsuits on the table. Unsuccessful with the first and second, Michelle Whitmer writes for HERE that they’re employing something called the Texas Two Step (I learn so much writing BBN!) in which a company facing law suits transfers its legal liabilities to a subsidiary and then initiates bankruptcy proceedings for the subsidiary, thus separating liabilities from assets. There are still in excess of 51,000 lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson.

Digital marketplace e-commerce site Farfetch bought Violet Grey, a SpaceNK-alike beauty e-commerce site based in LA for $50m but has put it back up for sale just two years later. Farfetch took the decision to close its entire beauty division in the summer of this year after failing to attract new beauty customers. Violet Grey sells beauty at the very top end of the market which is already well served as luxury brands see the value of reaching the high street via stores such as Sephora. Business of Fashion provides some good stats so you can see the financial comparison – Violet Grey made appox $20 million in 2022 sales, while Ulta made $10.2 billion. Consider the shuttering of Unilever’s incubator on top of this and it’s clear that nobody is taking risks in this shaky, cash strapped market.

Woes for Estee Lauder Companies whose sales fell by 10% making shareholders nervous. Experts cite the Asian travel market as the cause of this drop because 20% of ELC is travel retail. Since the pandemic travel confidence still hasn’t returned to ‘normal’. However, ELC has invested heavily in a manufacturing and engineering ‘innovation centre’ in Japan to manufacture and distribute within the Asia Pacific Region and their travel retail arm.

It looks like Aurelius Group is in exclusive negotiations to purchase The Body Shop, with a deal expected this month. They don’t really have any proven track record with beauty brands that I can see  – the nearest of their current investments is Lloyds Pharmacy.


Transparency Disclosure

All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.