Friday, January 28, 2011
The proliferation of the internet has served to bring commerce to the masses. Anyone anywhere around the world now has the ability to purchase items that are not available at the corner store, shopping mall or duty-free outlet. With the success of the online marketplace, companies (cosmetics in particular) are now able to reach a wide variety of customers who may not have otherwise known their products.
Familiar brands to North America like MAC, Bobbi Brown and Kiehl's are able to reach places like Africa, Dubai and Japan while otherwise unknowns like Makeup Store, FACE Stockholm and Sulwhasoo can hit the states with an influx of new recognition not felt before the dot-com boom. And while I am a huge fan of new products, the one thing I always like to do before committing is testing them out. It's the main reason I even started a blog, so I can be more vocal about how I feel a particular product works and hopefully give some insight to others who may have trepidation to try them for themselves. In a means to be fair, I always like to highlight the good points and downplay the poor ones but give accurate information for you to make your own decisions.
With such a large amount of product to review, this can become very expensive.
So let me give you a little insight. Most cosmetics companies will provide samples of their products to industry insiders specifically so they can be reviewed. Now this may sound really cool, but it's actually a bit daunting. Sometimes I get an influx of products that I, personally, don't really care for. For one reason or another, it just doesn't suit me or what I do. So I'm left with a bag of goodies that go unused. Rather than trash them, I like to give them to colleagues (other bloggers, artists, enthusiasts) or try my best to recycle them. The one thing I would NEVER do is sell them.
Companies will send me products, usually labled "tester only", specifically for review or recommendation. If I am using a lipstick on a client I may just give it to her to touch up with later. And if she should be spotted with it, all the better press for the company. I get their appreciation, the client gets a great product and the company gets the exposure. NO MONEY CHANGES HANDS. So for me to take a product and use it to make a profit would be highly unethical. And I don't need that kind of karma.
If you've ever seen a banner ad or link to "half-price XYZ brand makeup", please know that it's a scam. Much like buying a purse from a box on Canal Street, you're either buying something fake or stolen. And, yes, both practices are illegal.
Some websites like gmarket or eBay will offer sample packets of products and claim to be official representatives of the brand. They are not. THEY ARE NOT. These brands have corporate offices whose sole purpose is to make sales higher from their corporate websites. Why would they use any other outlet?
But, once in a while, some do. For example; while you may be able to purchase from the official Bobbi Brown website, you may also go to the Saks Fifth Avenue website and buy them there as well. Both outlets are contractually obligated to the brand. Any other seller is not. Especially someone who is on the street or an open market website.
Most people on social network purchasing sites have no affiliation with the brand, no authorization from the brand and are not held to any of the brand's standards of operation. So you may actually be buying counterfeit product, used product or even (bleh!) expired product. While you may be able to review the seller's practices on the site, that doesn't justify their means. Sure they may have shipped to you on time and for a great price, but it's very likely through less than honorable means. Possibly even a defunct former employee ditching their stash of gratis.
On that note, for me to recommend buying from anywhere other than the company's website or authorized affiliate is not only unethical, but teeters on consortment. A practice that, if captured, can be linked to larceny. And even if it wasn't (IT IS), it's still in very bad taste.
As always I urge you to please take the time to make educated purchases and wise decisions before buying. Including who you buy from.