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Thank to Nancy T. for today's question!

Do you think that beauty brands listen to customer concerns?

I think there are more than we FEEL like listening and at least doing something with our feedback internally, but whether we actually see real change (that’s visible to us as customers) I’m not sure – that’s where I get cynical and don’t feel like we see a lot of things addressed. Last year, Bite Beauty probably was the most obvious that listened, since they reformulated their dud shade and resent it to customers (free of charge). Marc Jacobs DID listen to reviews/number of returns about their eyeliners being dried out upon arrival, pulled the product off the shelves, fixed the problem, and then restocked (but there wasn’t little to no notification to customers either by Sephora or by MJB on the process).

— Christine

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Profile photo of Maggie

A handful I think. I’ve seen review responses on Paula’s Choice urging the reviewer to get in touch with customer service to fix issues but I personally have never contacted their customer service directly.

I think it depends on the brand. BITE and MJ are 2 great examples of brands that did listen and take corrective action, and BITE has earned my trust and respect with what they did. Other brands, like MAC, are tone-deaf. Readers have been complaining for years about too many substandard and uninspired products/collections, but they just keep cranking them out like their lives depend on it. I think what most brands “listen” to is money. With the huge success of UD Naked, the DS brands heard “cha ching”, so they launched their own palettes, except they just threw a whole bunch of mediocre shadows into a kit, jacked up the price, and slapped the name “naked” or “nude” on them, in hopes of cashing in on the craze. Had they really been “listening” to customers, they would’ve understood that UD is successful because they have a superior shadow formula, a great range of colors, and awesome palettes.

Profile photo of Nancy T

Not sure if my first comment went through or not, I was trying to fix a bizarre typo, and then saw the blue line at the top showing it went through prematurely? My keyboard has been acting up!

I think that some beauty brands do and some don’t. As a WOC I’d love to see some brands have a (much) broader color range for their foundations and concealers. It’s an ongoing issue. There are many other things but I think a brand not having darker shades is almost saying they don’t want WOC as their customers.

I agree. There is a wider, more natural color range but many do not have the same or any range in darker colors. Are blushes, shadows and contours a similar problem?

I absolutely agree with you on that. I’m actually working on making a difference in that area myself and I will make sure that I stock a huge color range in those products for w.o.c. such as myself and you Gelaine. Thank you for confirming how I already feel and for giving me further motivation to keep working on my dream so I can help other women like me get superior makeup products that fit our unique needs.

Profile photo of Nancy T

They should. We are their bread & butter. However, in looking at this past yearlong plethora of poor quality HE products in particular, it doesn’t feel like it. Especially this past late summer into autumn with so many sub par products coming fast and furiously! Didn’t seem QC was on the ball, or that these brands took proper care to make sure they lived up to expectations. With few exceptions, like the ones you mentioned: Bite with the 001 disaster, MJ with fixing the dry Highliners, possibly KVD’s regular lipsticks being reformulated. Yet still, most brands seem to be deaf towards us! How many times have we asked MAC to please redo all their matte eyeshadows into Matte2? Or quit with vomiting out a gazillion LE collex a year, half of which aren’t anything special? Or to most other brands to make foundations, powders and such for ALL skin colors and tones? To quit claiming 16 hr or 24 hr wear? They need to start listening to us and appreciating our giving them our business!

I’m not aware of how brands collect feedback – through sales, MUAs, via response from stores that carry their lines, from bloggers and social media? I was appauled last year at how Urban Decay refused to respond to customer inquiries about releases (if a product is scheduled to be re-released, confirming a rumour, or release date, etc.). They seemed present on social media when a compliment was tweeted. I asked their CEO a number of questions via Sephora chat and it’s the one they left unanswered. (Although, she didn’t answer the product shortage for in-demand collections to my satisfaction.)

I find certain stores responsive, like Nordstrom and Sephora. The crown goes to Beautylish, and they have many brand new releases, which seem flawlessly communicated and executed. I really don’t know how/if brands collect customer feedback.

Profile photo of Nancy T

Glad you mentioned that HORRIBLE UD debacle of last September-December! I feel that the way UD handled its customers was deplorable and borderline cruel!

It really was. I returned 2 palettes out of disgust during that time. I’m not super into UD to start with but they lost me as a customer. Luckily, other brands with better customer service were happy to take my money. 🙂

Profile photo of Pearl

It’s part of a business model that every business seems to be following these days: instead of addressing any concern, do not engage or acknowledge. There’s no backtracking or apologizing or accountability if you don’t engage or acknowledge – the question/issue/conflict just hangs there and eventually goes away or resolves on it’s own or becomes irrelevant with time. I’ve seen the live version of this at work and it’s so disheartening. The rejection is blatant and it really cuts down morale.

I’m sorry to hear that you experience it first hand, Pearl. I saw Sephora apologize that they weren’t going to have the UD Naked Collection that I thought UD’s lack of responding to their customers put Sephora in an awful spot of constantly apologizing. UD knew they would be popular and the CEO could surely have predicted that response as it was the second time this type of collection was released. I’d recommend other brands. I hope the strategy you see in the business turns around.

Urban Decay certainly are not listening to complaints about the change in the Naked pallets formula since the buy out by l’oreal. In fact they seem to be pretending that the problem does not exist and have yet to even admit the formula is different at all. Yet we see a lot of complaints from the consumers who are re-buying pallets who are saying they are coming away shocked and disappointed at the difference, and new customers are just flat out confused because they have been told again and again how awesome the formula is but are saying how average it is.

Perhaps you could re-review some brand new naked pallets? With this site being as well known and popular as it is It would really help to clear up a lot of confusion and internet arguments, even if the results say yes the quality has tanked or no its just the same as before.

Profile photo of Rachel R.

I know all the major brands keep track, but whether the decision makers pay attention or do anything with the information is hard to tell. I think it depends on the brand. Bite was very impressive with the lipstick issue. Kat von D reformulated the Studded Kiss lipsticks, and they are better. I’ve seen brands change packaging in the past based on consumer wants/complaints. So obviously, some do. Other companies leave me scratching my head: They don’t fix known issues or they reformulate good products and make them worse.

Profile photo of Michele

I think some are better than others. I’ve mentioned this before but both Sephora and Urban Decay are under investigation by my State Tax Department and the Attorney General’s Office for non-compliance with our State taxes. In short, they are both overcharging customers tax and refusing to refund it. Whereas Sephora was polite, but is doing nothing to fix the issue, Urban Decay has just been flat-out rude. IMO it’s one thing to treat a customer poorly but it’s an even worse business model to be non-complaint with State entities. (In fact, for much of the same reason – overcharging customers – Verizon is no longer available in this area as they were banned by the Attorney General’s Office.)

Profile photo of Michele

Susan, I’m pretty sure the high speed internet issue is just in my area. The issue of unauthorized charges (Verizon) spanned several states and if you were affected, you had to file a claim. The Attorney General here reported on their website, “Verizon agreed to pay $90 million to the states and federal regulatory agencies. Of that, up to $70 million must be paid to consumers—a portion of which may be paid by forgiving debts consumers may owe the communications company. Verizon also will pay $16 million to the attorneys general and $4 million to the Federal Communications Commission. West Virginia anticipates receiving $187,732.84.” The tax overage issue with Sephora deals with the company misapplying Municipality tax to orders in this State. (Some Municipalities add an additional % to the State Sales Tax. Sephora is adding the extra tax to orders where they don’t apply.)

Profile photo of Lacey

I think we often feel that they’re not listening unless a company responds publicly. I’m sure many brands deal well with customer complaints on a case-by-case basis, but it takes more for a company to issue a Ln official statement or revise formulas. I also think some of us, generally, are less aware of the process of developing–and changing–a product than we think. So it may seem that our opinions are being ignored when the company is really working behind the scenes to develop a better product altogether.

Profile photo of Wwendy

I’m almost too jaded to answer this question. I think it is as simple as having far too much focus on the tick tock of time pressure to keep churning collections/mini collections/seasonal stuff out. It used to be you would see maybe 4 or 5 collections released for each label per year. Now you see collections for seasons, holidays, mother’s day, father’s day..groundhog day! anything and everything to promote more and more product. Throw enough darts, eventually something will hit the bullseye.

I don’t often see brands being “responsive” when it comes to my pet makeup issues. I’d love it if brands were more open to making LE products permanent and if, in addition to accommodating a broader range of skin tones, they would address different skin types. It’s ridiculous that no drugstore brand has tried to dupe Becca’s matte primer for less than Becca’s $36 price tag. Oily skin comes with a whole host of issues that mean we’re not as likely to bother with pricey foundations, but it sucks that so many companies don’t try to make products for me at all. Only Becca, which is why they get my money.

True. I’ve been searching for a dupe for the Becca primer for over a year, but I can’t find one. Nothing in this world compares to that primer. It’s amazing

Having extremely oily skin I found the Becca primer to be the first primer I ever tried that kept my skin matte but not dry, while also diminishing the look of enlarged pores, and give my makeup a perfected, photoshop-like appearance.

I have purchased two dupes for the Becca matte primer. One is the H&M Beauty Mattifying Face Primer ($12.99), the other is the Kiko Milano Mat Base Corrector Primer ($14.00). Both are really, really good.

I find the H&M primer to be thicker in consistency and leaves the skin slightly more matte than the Becca primer, but does not blur pores as well as the Becca one. The Kiko Milano primer is also thicker in consistency, but mattifies and blurs pores just as well, if not better, than the Becca primer. Actually, I like the Kiko Milano primer more than the Becca one — which I didn’t think was even possible.

I alternate between all three in my makeup routine, but honestly, when I finish the Becca primer, I will completely replace it with the Kiko Milano primer, and use the H&M primer for extremely oily occasions (especially during the summer).

Here are the ingredients for each of the primers.

Becca Ever-Matte Poreless Primer Perfector: Aqua (Water), Magnesium Aluminium Silicate, Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylene Glycol, Enantia Chlorantha Bark Extract, Oleanolic Acid.

H&M Beauty Mattifying Face Primer: Water (Aqua), Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerine, Butylene Glycol, Enantia Chlorantha Bark Extract, Oleanolic Acid.

Kiko Milano Mat Base Corrector Primer: Aqua (Water), Magnesium Aluminium Silicate, Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylene Glycol, Enantia Chlorantha Bark Extract, Oleanolic Acid.

If you notice, the Becca primer and Kiko Milano primer have the EXACT same ingredients.

These alternatives have worked very well for me, and I hope if you give them a try, they will work for you as well.

Sorry for the long read, but as an oil-slick gal myself, I understand how difficult it is to find something that works well for me.

Certainly some, especially smaller, social media-marketing depenant ones. Scentbird comes to mind. I think they’ve had their customers take 3 or 4 surveys since I joined 14 months ago, and seem changes seemingly based on those surveys. I’ve also seen that company incorporate instagram feedback right in the comments section.

However I’m so suspicious that some brands are trying to cash in hardcore on social media marketing in a shady way, formulating their products to swatch well with fingers but apply crappily with brushes, or look great on camera but don’t wear well throughout the day. They listen to what consumers base their purchases on (seeing it on social media) more than delivering a quality product.

Profile photo of Deidre

I think some companies are listening or paying attention to what customers like/want at least, like drugstore brands are coming out more with products that are usually found in higher end brands. Some of the products are still hit and miss but at least they are trying. Colorpop I think is one that really listens to what the customer wants but they are only available online so I think they are really able to figure out what the customer wants.
However, I think most look at what products are selling/profits so if we as customers really want a brand to start changing we need to say it with our money.

Profile photo of Renè

I think they SHOULD listen. Of course, there are so many personal concerns and one must understand that. Wouldn’t it be nice if everything was customized just for you?! Sometimes change is needed and companies should take in consideration of their customers and the market to make improvements in their products, especially when the customer demands and requests are high. I believe at least some feedback is a must to ensure that these brands/companies are listening to the customers concerns. Communication on all scales is key.

Edward Bess is an example of exemplary responsiveness to his customers. Several years ago he moved his lipstick manufacturing to China and the lipstick underwent a reformulation. The new product was met with a plethora of negative comments by customers who were famililiar with his “cult classic” cream lipstick and were terribly disappointed in the new version. Edward, himself, got on the phone and called customers for whom a number was on record and reached out to blogger’s to apologize for the “mis-step” (his words), ask for suggestions, explain what he planned to do, and then offer to send a couple free lipsticks (beloved old formula) as a thank you for our time in talking to him. He apologized on Facebook, recalled the old product from stores, moved his manufacturing back, and restored the old formula. How’s that for being responsive! No wonder Edward has so many fans 🙂

In truth, I think Edward is the rare exception. I think most companies do listen to customer complaints, but they don’t jump to immediately correct a problem the way he did. Rather they just let the poor performing product phase out. Obviously, in the case of health and safety issues, the corrective response needs to be fast, but in the case of esthetics or performance, I think the common strategy for dealing with it is to simply let it go until the next scheduled release/reformulation.

Wow, I’m impressed with Edward Bess’s response! What lipsticks or products do you recommend from him? I see his products on Hautelook, QVC, and at a small local counter near me, but he gets so few reviews/swatches that I don’t know where to start.

I*m impressed by the response to the problem, which was very good; however, moving production to China for a brand like Edward (!) Bess (!) with his kind of pricing, seems to have been a very foolish plan from the beginning 😀

Profile photo of Valerie

I think it depends highly on the company in question and the types of complaints that are being registered. For example MAC (IMO) will never listen to customer complaints regarding the LE collections even if everything in it is a re-branded color simply because there are too many people out there who will buy the collections just to own something labeled as LE. It’s too lucrative for them to give up.

Still other issues revolve highly around how a product works on a particular type of skin. I have very dry flaky skin. I don’t purchase things labeled matte because I know chances are they won’t work out well for me. However I know several ladies who will purchase and then get upset that it doesn’t look good on their skin. I think issues like that get ignored mostly because one formula isn’t going to work for everyone. It’s just not. Ideally would a company put out more products that suit everyone? Of course, but that may not always be possible or even a good business model.

The biggest issue that I still don’t understand is shade availability. As someone with fair skin it is hard to find appropriate shades but I at least have some options. Women/Men of color (from my perspective) seem to have the hardest time finding shades. One would think being the first company to put out a quality product for people of color would be an instant success. Maybe its an issue with finding pigments that are safe to use? If that’s the case you would think companies would be speaking up about it.
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Profile photo of Lulle

You’d think they would… I mean, their customers are their source of income, aren’t they? Yet it sometimes feels like they listen to the other side of the equation, their investors, a lot more. From price increases to a constant flood of LE collections with questionable quality products, a lot of brands seem entirely focused on their short-term profit rather than on establishing a long-term relationship with loyal customers.
How many makeup lovers do you know whose passion was born at a MAC store, and who now sadly say that MAC is a sub-par brand releasing huge amounts of mediocre LE products every year? How do they not realize the major impact on their credibility? And yet, as long as the LE collections sell out fast enough, they seem perfectly happy with their faltering image…
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So true! At one time, MAC was *the* brand to go to for all sorts of makeup. Now, I pay attention to the promotions but I buy very little and, often, just wait to see if it lands in the CCO. I do still like their lipsticks and lip glosses when the ratings are solid, but as brands have expanded, so have my tastes and MAC takes up a smaller proportion of my overall makeup these days.

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