it’s no longer black and white

Grey markets (also referred to as parallel imports)  in cosmetics have boomed recently, with the addition of chinese beauty sites such as strawberrynet offering a wide range of goods at low markets and with free shipping. I mean it sounds great doesn’t it, buy something for 90% of the Australian retail price and get it delivered to your door. But what are these sites really doing to Australian and international beauty brands?

Now i’ve heard all the arguments pro these types of sites – the companies are making huge profits, why shouldn’t i buy it at a discount? Australian consumers are being ripped off…. and it goes on. Now while i’m personally anti these markets, I very much understand why people buy from them but this post is about educating on the effects they have on authorised distributors and the companies themselves.

Firstly, the origin of the products is questionable. While I know some of their products are authentic, I’ve also heard reports that some of them are most certainly not (see fashion hayleys experience and information from the nail file about OPI).

Secondly, because these sites are not authorised distributors of products all warranties and guarantees as to quality and safety are void.

Quality control and assurance processes are also ignored, as these products may come from anywhere they could be seriously old or even not properly sealed. This is the part where warranties come into play, if you purchase a product that is 3 years old and has spent half its life in a hot cargo crate you wouldn’t really want to put it on your face would you? But you don’t know where its been or where its come from so you do, and maybe you have a reaction or maybe its fine, or maybe the product doesn’t work at all? There is no method of compensation for your purchase, or any problems you have when you buy from these sites.

Lastly, the brands you are buying from on these sites have invested millions of dollars in advertising and promotions to get you to buy from the brand – and when purchasing in the grey market none of the products they sell or any money (usually) comes back to the brand who produces them.  Think about what made you want to purchase that product, did you see a billboard ad? Did you test the fragrance at a department store and love it? Or did you receive a sample and found it worked well for you?  These things all costs alot of money for a brand to make happen, so they spent money to drive you to purchase and receive practically nothing but professionally horrible reviews and emails about a possibly bad reaction to a product.

As I said before, there are different points of view on the “grey market” phenomenon and everyone is entitled to their own. The main reason behind writing this post is just to help people understand and be aware of problems that can arise from purchasing products this way and to take them into consideration if you wish to make a purchase from one of these sites.

If your interested in a bit more information about “grey market goods” i’d encourage you to visit these links:

The business of parallel imports” Beauty Directory

Grey Area: The Dangers of Buying Cut-Priced Cosmetics”  Bella Sugar

who owns what? The Coty Lancaster Group

When I first became involved with some Australian fragrance and beauty distributors I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about the major distributors and their brands. But boy was I wrong!

Brands you think are standalone are owned by some of the worlds biggest companies, and whilst I was researching this a few years back I found it very difficult to get my head around it, so I thought I’d map out a few here incase anyone else is facing this task or wants to know a bit more about the industry as it stands in Australia. Over the next few posts i’ll be exploring a few of the key distributors.

To start with, one of the most successful distributors in Australia at the moment, Coty.

Coty has been expanding rapidly, recently acquiring the OPI brand and well as philosophy. 2010/11 also saw a slew of celebrity fragrance announcements from Beyonce to Lady GaGa.

COTY (Coty Lancaster Group)

Split in two : Coty Beauty and Coty Prestige

Australian Head Office : Sydney

Worldwide Sales (2010) : $3.6 Billion

Worldwide, 62% of revenue is derived from their fragrance business, followed by cosmetics (23%) then skin sun & personal care (15%)

The President of Coty Prestige is Michele Scannavini (one of my favourite men of the beauty industry) and I think the key to their recent success. Michele places a huge emphasis on the digital revolution and e-commerce and alot of Coty’s brands have been really successful in that area.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of their main brands


Rimmel Cosmetics

OPI (Australian distributors from early 2012)

Calvin Klein Beauty

Sally Hansen

Skin Care:

Philosophy (recently purchased)




Marc Jacobs

Calvin Klein

Bottega Veneta



Playboy Fragrances

Vera Wang

Vivienne Westwood

Roberto Cavalli




Truth or Dare by Maddona

Lady GaGa Fragrance (more to be announced in 2012)

Karl Lagerfeld

Kylie Minogue


Kate Moss

Harajuku Lovers

Jennifer Lopez

Halle Berry

Heidi Klum