By  on November 11, 2011

The rule breakers have become the rule makers. In the past decade since Sephora landed in America, Ulta came to prominence, TV shopping gained new respect and Internet shopping exploded, multichannelism has become the new language of beauty retailing in the U.S. This new world contrasts sharply with the old order of the Seventies and Eighties, when an entire generation of sales executives carved a career out of single-mindedly plying either the department stores or the mass chains alone. A new breed of indie brands — like Benefit Cosmetics, Bare Escentuals, Philosophy and Smashbox — emerged in the Nineties and became the masters of a distribution game of their own invention, driven by the advent of more savvy, more plugged-in and more demanding women who follow their own shopping code.

These upstart brands succeeded largely without the help of traditional retail. Liz Garrett, president of Philosophy, notes that nearly 58 percent of her business comes from online shopping and QVC combined. “The majority of our business is done where the customer can’t touch or feel [the product],” she says.
“It’s the Wild, Wild West; a lot of rules are being broken,” says Betsy Olum, general manager of beauty and merchandising strategy of HSN.

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