MASS MAKES THE GRADE
Byline: Cassandra Chiacchio
NEW YORK — When it comes to cosmetics, a group of young women from Staten Island have a certain set of preferences. They love using mass brands, shopping in drugstores and taking advantage of the gift-with-purchase offers from prestige names.
What they don’t like are pushy beauty advisers, high-priced products and high-pressure sales techniques. And surprisingly, beauty e-tailers have yet to capture their atten-
tion despite their multi-
million-dollar advertising budgets.
These were just a few of the facts unveiled during a survey about the cosmetics shopping experience given to 20 young women ages 18 through 23 who live in Staten Island, a borough of New York. Most of the participants are still in college, while a few of them have just started out in the workforce.
Most of these young women live only a hop, skip and a ferry ride away from Manhattan, and visit the island often, but make none of their cosmetics purchases in the city. Even the lure of SoHo, one of the most expansive places in the U.S. to buy cosmetics, thanks to the likes of Sephora, MAC, Origins and Face Stockholm, isn’t enough to draw them in.
The overwhelming majority prefers to shop in the brightly lit, aisle-organized world of drugstores. They like the brands, the low prices and what they called the hassle-free shopping environment. Another plus, they pointed out, is that drugstores have longer hours than department stores, making after-school and after-work shopping possible.
“I like shopping in a drugstore because you can help yourself,” said Denise Grissler, 23.
“You can browse without people telling you what you should wear,” added Jaclyn Lurker, 21.
In a department store, many like the selection of products and the option of assistance, but are discouraged by high prices and the beauty advisers. “The salespeople try to pressure you into buying unwanted items,” said Tricia Troy, 22.
The ambivalence toward this shopping channel might have to do with the fact that Staten Island only has one major department store that sells prestige cosmetics — Macy’s. Unlike other Macy’s units, this one has not updated its beauty department to be more welcoming to a younger shopper, lacking features like open sell and the Tommy Hilfiger Tommy’s Shops.
In fact, the few women who did buy at department stores usually did so only when a gift-with-purchase event was going on. They generally spend the minimum needed to qualify for the gift.
None of the women surveyed had purchased cosmetics online, despite regular access to the Internet at home and at school. They were not familiar with the names of new online beauty retailers, like Eve.com, Beautyscene.com and Gloss.com. A few didn’t even realize that shopping for beauty products online was a possibility.
“It sounds interesting, but I like to know what the colors look like on me before I buy them because the colors look different on everyone. If I buy online, I can’t test the product,” said Marnie Zigelman, 21.
Nor do they use the beauty Web sites as a means of getting information on new brands and products. For that, they rely on magazines and word of mouth.
All of the women surveyed use makeup, but to varying degrees. All of them wear basic products like powder, lipstick, eye shadow and mascara. Others prefer to wear it all — especially at night when they slather on the foundation and add concealer, blush, lipliner and eyeliner.
The survey showed that the women spend an average of $60 on makeup annually. Some reported spending as little as $30 a year, while the largest expenditure was $150.
Sixty dollars might not seem like a lot when a single foundation from the likes of Chanel or Estee Lauder can cost nearly that much, but given the favorite brands of this crowd, it’s possible to fill a makeup bag for that amount at the nearest CVS or Duane Reade. Many of the respondents say they take advantage of coupons from the likes of Revlon and Almay and the special savings many of the drugstores offer on cosmetics during certain promotional periods.
The favorite mass brands listed were Cover Girl, Maybelline, Neutrogena, Jane, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Oil of Olay, Almay, Revlon and L’Oreal. Three respondents listed direct-sellers Avon and Mary Kay.
Among the prestige brands listed were Clinique, Prescriptives, Lancome, MAC and Estee Lauder. When asked what they would use if money were no object, these same lines were listed in addition to Clarins and Bobbi Brown.
Surprisingly, some of the women did note that they would stick with their favorite mass market brands no matter how much money they could spend.
“When you’ve got something good, go with it,” said Euthena Millman, 20.