Retail revolution

julia zaltzman

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, even the January sales have started appearing before we’ve sung the New Year in. Loud price slashing has always been most retailers’ preferred way of engaging with consumers, and once our interest is piqued we’re further enticed with BOGOFs, three-for-two deals and any other money-saving offer that can be dreamed up. It’s a war zone where a war of attrition is being played out to the bitter end.

But just wait a minute. Let’s sit down, pour ourselves a herbal infusion and think this through properly. There’s only so far that we (retailers and shoppers alike) can go with eye-wateringly low prices before quality becomes compromised, questions get asked, both integrity and trust is lost, and we’re surrounded by irreparable collateral damage.

There has to be another way. And the empty shop floors during this year’s infamous Black Friday suggest weary shoppers are thinking along the same lines.

Last month The Independent published its ’10 best online beauty retailers’. It’s a giddy list of fashionable e-tailers purveying the best that beauty has to offer, and I was delighted to see that at number three and number eight respectively were our very own natural beauty trailblazers Being Content and LoveLula.

Rubbing shoulders with the likes of SpaceNK Apothecary, Look Fantastic and The Independent’s number one pick Get The Gloss, which was launched a year ago by two former beauty editors – Vogue’s Susannah Taylor and The Times’ Sarah Vine – it is yet again clear to me that organic beauty is very much at the top of its game, and shouldn’t be treated as a niche sub-category.

SpaceNK itself offers up no less than 144 beauty products when you search the term ‘organic’ on its website (I know because I counted them), and yet it is not considered a speciality store. More accurately it is a stylish emporium stocking what are deemed to be the world’s best beauty brands, whether they are organic or not.

And then it dawned on me. When sold online, natural beauty doesn’t have to compete with the minimalist designs of stores such as SpaceNK. The products speak for themselves, and the ratings naturally follow.

Out on the High Street, however, little independents are most definitely battling with the sleek Apple-like appeal that nowadays we shoppers readily associate with premium outlets stocking premium products. And it’s when we’re feeling frumpy in our plain old bricks and mortar and crowded out by the big boys that the knee-jerk price-slashing reaction tends to creep in. But stop. Don’t do it!

Independent natural beauty retailers, you may be small, but you are mighty. Our stake in the beauty retail sector is considerable enough to have all the large multiples wanting a piece of the organic action. The age-old mantra of quality over quantity has never rung more true. Organic beauty is no longer the future, it’s the here and now, and you independents are in effect the godfathers of that gold mine.

So this January stand tall and stand proud. Don’t slash your prices to compete with the national chains left floundering after Christmas. Instead cease-fire, hold the line, and stand by the brands and products on your shelves. There’s no need to compromise when what you’re offering is the nothing but the best.

Julia Zaltzman is a freelance writer and editor of Natural Beauty News.