What is beauty market? Well, twice a season (that’s spring/summer, fall/winter, so four times a year), Neiman Marcus (and every major retailer: Nordstrom, Saks, Barneys, Sephora, Ulta, etc.) will sit down with their vendors — the beauty brands — to negotiate the next several months. Neiman’s buyers get to see what’s coming next season… and they’ll hash out details like whether the store gets an exclusive product/shade/set, and what’s in their gift with purchase. Talk about a peek under the tent!
The store is negotiating for the best exclusive products, gifts-with-purchase, bounceback offers, and national advertising mentions (you know: when YSL runs an ad in Glamour and they say “find it at Neiman Marcus” at the bottom). In return, the brands want to be featured in the catalog and on the website. They want prime real estate or special signage within the store. Nothing happens by accident: analysts are studying exactly which bounceback offers and postcards and emails worked, and which ones didn’t. As a consumer, you’re always voting with your wallet.
What’s even more fascinating, the Neiman Marcus buying team is comprised of Bourne-Identity-level-makeup-addicts. Their love of product transcends personal preference: they know exactly what’s going to do well in what market, and they’re always trying to secure the best for their customers. When Cle de Peau pulls out something amazing they have planned for holiday, Neimans might say “how many of those did you make? We want all of them.” It’s thrilling to witness.
Sidenote: I hadn’t realized, but cosmetics buyer for a major retailer seems like maybe best job ever. Why wasn’t this covered on career day in elementary school?
Part of being allowed to observe these meetings was a pledge not to leak product information. That was easy enough to agree to: are we really ready to talk about holiday sets in March? But I think I can say that there are some incredibly exciting launches coming. It’s going to be a very good year (thank you, Deborah Lippmann, Armani, Bobbi Brown, and Cle de Peau).
Also making me very happy: this fall, Laura Mercier will be launching products with a 100% charitable contribution for ovarian cancer (a cause with personal significance to both Laura herself and President/CEO Claudia Poccia). The products will join the permanent line, and every year, new ones will be added to the collection. I LOVE when a company goes “all in” on their donation — kudos, Laura.
Anyway, stay tuned for my adventures in NYC.