Essie: not the same everywhere

I love Essie nail polish. I jumped on the Essie bandwagon a bit late – I got my first Essie polish this past November, but their colors and the longevity of the color instantly made me a fan. Today, in my Marketing capstone class, we were discussing distribution strategies and someone mentioned Essie’s strategy:

Essie distributes different polishes to its different categories of retailers. Get this- salons and beauty supply stores like ULTA and Sally Beauty Supply get the “real” salon-quality Essie, while the likes of CVS and Walmart get “inferior” Essie products. Both products are sold as the same line with the same color names, but the quality (and price points) are different. The story goes as so: Target asked to sell Essie nail polish but they wanted to be able to sell it at a lower price point. Essie had been acquired by L’Oreal then, and L’Oreal saw a huge potential market share gain for its new nail polish brand if it sold at mass retailers. To acquiesce with Target’s choice, Essie updated its formula so that it would cost less. In addition, Essie updated the packaging to a more economical one.

What’s the difference between the two, and how can you tell them apart?

The salon-quality Essie is the one that salons use, and it boasts a longer-lasting formula and better quality product. Both categories of Essie are still, of course, “Essie.” The “lesser” Essie comes in a cheaper glass bottle with a clear sticker which spells “Essie” on it in white. The more “expensive” Essie comes in a higher-quality glass bottle and the brand’s name is embossed into the thicker glass bottle.



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