Max Factor Kisses America Goodbye

June 8, 2009

Why is it that when I love a brand or a product, it seems to be discontinued or not available in the US? In my humble opinion, Max Factor is one of the best drugstore brands out there. They make consistently high-quality products that are on par with department store brands, and their mascaras are some of the best out there. I’ve reviewed several Max Factor mascaras for my Mascara Series, and loved every one of them–it’s really a shame their products are being pulled from the US.

“Procter & Gamble Co. is wiping U.S. drug-store shelves clean of its Max Factor cosmetics, a line that isn’t popular enough to hold its own in America anymore.

The storied beauty brand — namesake of Max Factor, the pioneer of Hollywood makeup artistry — will continue to be sold internationally, where it garners most of its $1.2 billion in annual sales. Max Factor ranks among the top brands in strategically important markets such as Russia and the United Kingdom, P&G says.

By pulling Max Factor from U.S. shelves, P&G hopes to focus extra resources on its more promising CoverGirl brand, which the company says has increased its U.S. market share for the past seven years.

P&G bought Max Factor from Revlon in 1991 as part of a billion-dollar cosmetics assets deal meant to build P&G’s share of the mass-market beauty aisles. But under P&G Max Factor never gained the same kind of traction with U.S. shoppers that the all-American, squeaky-clean marketing of CoverGirl secured for that brand.

Meanwhile, retailers, hungry for efficiency in cluttered beauty aisles, became increasingly reluctant to make room for smaller, slower-growing brands.

As the brand was elbowed aside, Max Factor’s presence dwindled in the fiercely competitive mass-market beauty aisles in the U.S. The line is currently sold in fewer than 8,000 U.S. stores — a fraction of CoverGirl’s footprint, which spans an estimated 50,000 stores, a P&G spokeswoman said.

P&G still touts Max Factor as its “fastest-growing brand” in its cosmetics portfolio, albeit abroad. “Max Factor is a strong, profitable brand and remains one of P&G Beauty & Grooming’s key engines for global growth,” said Virginia Drosos, president of global female beauty at P&G.

P&G tried overhauling the Max Factor brand in the U.S. in 2005, upgrading its products and packaging. The company invested in edgy, high-fashion advertising featuring Carmen Electra and, most recently, supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

Famed makeup artist Pat McGrath, who serves as creative director for P&G’s beauty brands, has also weighed in on the brand’s direction.

Mass-market cosmetics remain a bright spot for P&G in the recession. Chief Executive A.G. Lafley has repeatedly celebrated how P&G has reaped the benefits of department-store shoppers switching to cheaper options.

“Look at the [falling] retail sales numbers for department stores and specialty channels. My belief is some of that is gone forever, and it’s gone forever because [the consumer] has changed her pattern of shopping,” Mr. Lafley told investors at a conference last week.

Max Factor will begin disappearing from U.S. shelves in early 2010.”

Source: Wall Street Journal


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