At an event I attended last week sponsored by L’Oreal Professionnel, David Craggs, President of L’Oreal USA, explained to somewhat stunned, bloggers and online journalists, that “diversion” also means the selling of branded beauty products in unauthorized outlets both on and off-line. L’Oreal’s products include some of the most popular salon brands on the market (e.g. Kerastase, Redken, Shu Uemura Art of Hair, Matrix, and Pureology…just to name a few).
Products marked “for professional and salon use” are designed and meant to be sold only at authorized salons. Alas, these products also show up in popular places such as mass market retailers, major drugstores, and beauty supply shops,supermarkets, and even at flea markets. Since these retailers include chain stores and other places that legitimately stock products from other manufacturers, unsuspecting consumers may not realize that some of the products they are purchasing in these outlets may actually be those “diverted” from approved sources. The sale of diverted professional beauty products hurts the bottom line of the salon owners and the beauty professionals who sell them, but it can hurt you, too, in more ways than one.
The Cost of Diverted Goods: Purchasing these items from non-authorized outlets can hurt your wallet. Although “discount” or “bargain” stores advertise lower prices, undercover research has found that diverted products are rarely cheaper from unauthorized outlets, and, in fact, you are likely to end up paying significantly more than the suggested retail price in the salon.
Even worse, buying and using diverted goods could be dangerous to your health and well being!
Diverted Goods = Potential Harm: Diverted goods may be outdated by years, meaning that they’re no longer as effective. The containers could be dirty or dented. But even more troubling is the fact that the container and the contents could have been tampered with, watered down, or worse, completely faux! How would you feel if that expensive treatment you bought with high hopes for better hair, turned out to be not a high-tech luxury, but harsh washing detergent? You never can tell what an unscrupulous distributor might do to make money, to your detriment. And, even if the product is genuine, many professional products may have higher concentrations of some chemicals that need to be used as directed, or applied only by a trained professional. They could end up being ineffective or worse, harmful in an amateur’s hands.
Discerning Diverted Goods: The packaging, at first glance, may look perfect, but a tell-tale sign of diverted goods is that the batch codes and tracking codes (bar codes) may be obliterated so the items can’t be traced. Also look for expiration dates. The cap or label may not match the bottle. And, if a product’s container is damaged, faded or dirty, those are tip-offs, too.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Since many stores legitimately sell brand name products, you might not realize that they also stock diverted ones. It is shocking to think that your local drugstore or beauty supply would do this, but alas, it happens. The best way to AVOID diverted goods is to simply to buy your hair products from your salon. If you don’t go to a salon for styling and treatments, you can still purchase products at the salon. Salons WANT you to purchase items from them, and will welcome you to do so even if you don’t go there for any services or treatments. If you have purchased professional salon products outside of a salon, and find that you have purchased diverted goods from an unauthorized outlet, the first thing you can do is bring back the items to the store, and tell the manager that you are aware that the items are grey market goods. Show your concern. Tell the manager you will tell others about the situation in that store. You can also contact the appropriate distributor for the store and call the manufacturer. Finally, you can share what you have just learned from reading this Advice Sisters blog post with others who might not be aware of this issue. Stumble it, for example, and tell your other favorite review and blog authors not to direct you to non-authorized sites for these types of items. If they don’t respond, switch your readership!
What The Advice Sisters Is Doing To Combat Diversion:
I was one of these unsuspecting beauty experts until last year, when someone brought this issue to my attention. I felt absolutely terrible that for 10 years I’d been reviewing beauty products on the Advice Sisters What Works Beauty, Cosmetics & Fashion review column and didn’t realize that some of the links I offered (without compensation, just as a service to readers) directed them to outlets that might be offering diverted goods.
Beginning this year, our Advice Sisters What Works Beauty, Cosmetics & Fashion review columns include this important statement: **It has come to our attention that some of the brands we review in this “What Works” column may be sold outside of company-sanctioned outlets, where the products you purchase may be expired, or perhaps, copycat items. We will direct you to the company’s own web site or authorized sales outlets, so you can find sites both online and off-line that will sell you genuine products. We don’t receive compensation from the companies for links in this buying guide….we do it as a service for YOU, our readers….. Advice Sister Alison.” The Advice Sisters are more careful to direct readers to company web sites for shopping and purchasing information.
I type everything, even shopping lists, but I added my name to a pledge to fight diversion the the l’Oreal event. You can see my “chicken scratch” floating near the top of the pledge statement. You can also see the same 7 minute film we watched about diversion (see video below) I urge you to take a moment to view it.