I wonder...?
March 26, 2010 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Are discount cosmetics/perfume retailers online or in-store selling old/expired/liquidated merchandise? Please explain how cosmetics industry works.

Do established cosmetics companies like Estee Lauder, Chanel, Mac, Clarins, etc., sell brand new merchandises direct to discounters? Or are cosmetics/perfume discounters buying liquidated merchandise from some other outfit?

Department stores and online company direct presences sell at full retail, then there are discounters, and outlet stores like TJmaxx, or even Costco.

I don't recall ever seeing expiration/production date marks on big brand cosmetics.
posted by hedonic.muse to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've always assumed the discount perfume stores near Canal Street in NYC sell counterfeit goods, like much of the other branded things for sale in that area. But who knows? It seems like something easily faked.
posted by R. Mutt at 1:11 PM on March 26, 2010

I know that Estee Lauder (that owns MAC) is affiliated with Cosmetics Company Outlets. The outlets all sell older make up. MAC, for example, releases a collection and then will keep it in their retail stores for a certain amount of time. The unsold merchandise is then sent back and sold through the Outlet. So you'll see a collection show up in the Outlets six or so months after it was pulled from the retail stores.
And make up doesn't go "bad" until you start using it and contaminating it with skin oils and such. So they can sell this stuff and I guess drop the price because it's off-season.
posted by blueskiesinside at 1:47 PM on March 26, 2010

The Cosmetics Company Outlet will also sell gift sets from gift-with-purchase or purchase-with-purchase offers (the ones you always see at the Clinique and Estee Lauder counters in department stores) after the promotions end.
posted by SisterHavana at 5:41 PM on March 26, 2010

R.Mutt: My thoughts too- suspect counterfeits being sold on the streets.

Blueskiesinside: Thanks for the info on Estee Lauder(EL)-- didn't think to research along those lines. For others who are curious:
Brands owned by EL
EL's own outlets(The cosmetics Company)

Anyone have similar info on the Clarins company?

I still wonder about other seemingly legitimate vendors, where are they getting their merchandise if EL has their own outlet system? I wouldn't think the parent companies are happy having their brand image diluted by having their items sold at varying discounts at questionable places.

Out of season or discontinued items, I understand, but basics like cleansers and toners, which are sold year around season after season, why would such items be sent to liquidators unless there is some inexplicit expiration?
posted by hedonic.muse at 5:42 PM on March 26, 2010

Companies frequently change packaging on products, even if the product itself doesn't change. They may also have limited edition packaging or sizing that is only scheduled to be sold for a certain period of time - perhaps tied into a holiday, TV show or movie, or other promotion. (For example, I've seen Garnier products with Project Runway promotional packaging during that show's season) Once the promotion ends, the company will not want to have lots of product with that packaging on store shelves, even though the product inside is still good...so the leftovers go to places like Big Lots or TJ Maxx or Marshalls.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:00 PM on March 26, 2010

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