20.12.16

Beauty Pie: A Revolutionary New Concept For Makeup Lovers, But Does It Make Financial Sense?

About a week ago a little black box arrived on my desk, concealing a capsule collection of new products. At first glance it looked the same as many other things I'd seen before, but the accompanying literature told a different story: this was Beauty Pie and it claimed to be the driving force behind an industry revolution. Developed by the woman behind super successful brands including Bliss and Soap & Glory, Beauty Pie is an online-only digital members club that aims to bring 'luxury cosmetics at factory prices' to those that sign up. At a cost of £10.00 per month (for a minimum of three months,) being a member allows you to buy £100 worth of cosmetics (at the full price) for rock bottom prices every calendar month - and if you don't use your allowance, it rolls over. Intrigued?


Their main point of difference is that Beauty Pie claim to have 'cut out the middle man' and minimised packaging expense, creating high quality cosmetics at prices that the high street simply can't compete with; what I do like is that they list the ingredients of every individual product and shade so you can find out easily what they compare to. Just pop the list into Google and it's easy to see what kind of quality you can expect: Future Lipstick Matte has basically the exact same ingredients as Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution and Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Matte; Uber Curl Drama Mascara is almost the same as best selling mascaras from Urban Decay and Clarins; the Beauty Pie Smart Powder Blush is comparable to Topshop and Models Own, while the Brightening Micro Mineral Serum Foundation has strong similarities with Arbonne and Dior. With lipsticks from £2.16, mascara from £1.93, blusher from £2.52 and foundation from £4.76 it's starting to sound like a win-win situation. However, once you look into the terms and conditions and calculate the financial aspects of the deal you're signing up to, it's not as amazing as it sounds.

THE MATHS OF IT: 
Your £10.00 a month membership allows you to buy £100 worth of full value product, which roughly equates to around five products per month. Once you split the membership cost up across those products, each one rises in price by £2.00 - making a foundation £6.76, concealer £5.43, mascara £4.16, primer £4.96 and lipstick £4.26. That's a total of £25.57 for five items of makeup, before shipping (£2.99 standard and £6.06 express) and handling costs (charged at 1.8% of your total order. Times that by three months (the minimum contract) and you'll be spending £76.71 over the period on fifteen items, or £306.84 on sixty items if you sign up for a whole year. 

THE DRAWBACKS 
If you don't think twice about spending a few hundred quid on makeup in a year from one brand, then this may offer you a great deal. However, you're limited by what Beauty Pie can offer and whether or not you like it. I've tried the products and they're certainly pleasurable and effective, but they don't leave me feeling bowled-over or like I would need to order everything from within their repertoire; they don't have that addictive quality that brands like Makeup Revolution have proven to capture, nor have they been able to bottle the luxurious covetable element that some of the more premiums brands have.  

THE REALITY OF MARKETING
My biggest question of all is around the marketing of Beauty Pie. Who says these are super luxury cosmetics and who sets their 'non member' pricing?  If you're not a member you can buy their cosmetics at inflated prices that are actually rather ridiculous: £30.00 for a highlighter, £24.00 for a primer or £19.00 for a lipgloss. These prices are around the same as brands including Bobbi Brown, Dior and Chanel, but in my opinion either the quality doesn't compare or the feeling you get from opening a super luxurious product isn't there. In their own words they 'remove the markup' and reduce the cost of packaging, so I'm just not sure how they can justify these prices - other than to cleverly make it look like you're getting an incredible deal.

In the interests of research, I did a little Twitter survey to gather your thoughts on this new concept; unsurprisingly the comments and feedback was varied, with 38% saying it sounded amazing but getting confused about the fact that it was own-brand only. 23% stated that it was too much money to commit to, while a further 23% said they weren't brand loyal enough to commit; a further 16% just didn't get it. For me, it's a fascinating development in the way we buy beauty and proves that there are many exciting shake-ups to come for the industry, but my gut feeling is that this will go the way of beauty boxes: initial intrigue, excitement and a rush of sign-ups will be replaced after six months with customers becoming lethargic, unsatisfied and desperate for something new. 

I've seen coverage on the concept across publications including The Telegraph, Glamour and Vogue, but none of it mentions the downside or the fact Beauty Pie involves a heavy commitment. I absolutely admire them for their transparency of cost and how they simply breakdown where every penny of your money goes to (here's an example,) but what they don't do is show you the handling and delivery charges that are involved unless you sign up and get to the point of placing an order. (Update: I was gifted a six month trial by the brand and can confirm shipping is £2.99 standard and £6.06 express, as well as a handling fee of 1.8% of every order being added.) The appeal of a lipstick for a couple of quid is vast, but in reality if you're spending upwards of £30.00 to get that lipstick, is it really providing that much of a bargain? I'm unconvinced. 

For me, the beauty of the current market is that there is SO much innovation and SO much choice; we're able to move between brands, make impulse purchases and generally enjoy our makeup as much as possible because we don't have to be constrained by what's available in our local Boots store. With the birth of online shopping and digital media, it's possible to discover new things and have them arrive on your doorstep within 24 hours; we're a fickle old bunch who are undoubtedly driven by innovation and 'oooh that's pretty!' Asking people to commit to one brand, that's completely unknown, for a minimum period of three months and pay for the privilege (and having a restriction on the amount of items you can actually buy) just sets off too many alarm bells for me. I'm fascinated to see how Beauty Pie evolves over the next year and what products they have up their sleeves; I'm intrigued to see how people will respond after a couple of orders and whether or not trial will drive repeat purchases; I'm also excited for what this means for the industry - because thinking outside of the box is never a bad thing. But as for signing up... Not this time.

What do you think of Beauty Pie? Is it a concept that you're getting behind, or does it confuse the bejeezus out of you? Let me know if you sign up...


Find out more about Beauty Pie and discover their products via their website: www.beautypie.com

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20 comments

  1. Really interesting post! I've been wondering whether this is worth signing up to - the way they wrote the press release made it sound like you would actually be able to buy brands - but when I saw it was all their own generic looking stuff I was a bit put off - also interested in how things go with it so I'll be watching closely too :) x

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    1. Yeah I've heard from a lot of people they thought there would be household names, not own brand products only. I think many will be disappointed when they go to look, knowing how it's been positioned. Watch this space though!

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  2. Very informative post Hayley and as always honest. I am not convinced either. I agree with what you say about them setting inflated prices for their products to appear to be receiving a great deal...

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    1. I think that's what annoyed me the most. The products are NOT worth £30, so it's counteracting their position of transparency and honesty in my opinion.

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  3. it's a really interesting concept, but with similar concepts like lovemebeauty already happening with a bigger variety of brands, i'm sceptical. but intrigued!
    jen / velvet spring xxx

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    1. I haven't heard of that, but I'm off to research!

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  4. I just wouldn't commit to one brand enough to sign up to a membership. Even for make-up addicts you can only buy so much of the same branded make-up each month. I think they don't really have that much choice to choose from yet, plus the website doesn't really have any swatches or any indication of colours that you are buying blind. I never knew you were actually limited to £100 a month either, bizarre!

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    1. Yep, it's so strange there are no swatches or anything considering this is a completely new brand with no benchmark. How do you know what you're buying? At least with a beauty box subscription you're exposed to different brands and it's not much of an investment; I don't really think it's been thought through thoroughly enough - the focus is on a marketing spin.

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  5. The concept is quite clever and the illusion of savings draws you in, but I think they'll lose people with the upfront three month commitment. I know it's their way of tying you in to spend more money, but it would put me off giving it a go. I'd be much more likely to sign up for one month just to try it out rather than committing to more without knowing the brand / quality / what products will come out next etc. I think they need to build a track record first.

    Gemma x | www.flutterandsparkle.com

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    1. Agreed - it's hard to commit to something completely unknown, when it's such a financial investment. Here's hoping there will be a plethora of offers and free memberships to start with.

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  6. I have to admit that I initially found Beauty Pie a little confusing. I'd much rather be able to pick and choose from the products I want rather than commit to the brand and end up with make-up that I don't use or need. x

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  7. This was a really interesting read! I feel like this is something that really should do a free trial month or something if it's own brand products. The 3 month minimum is ridiculous, what if you hate the products in the first month!?

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  8. Damn your good! Great post Hayley xxx

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  9. It is an interesting idea and I'd want it if it was a mixture of brands I knew and was comfortable with rather than something I know nothing about. I'm not sure I'd pay those prices either, they sound over inflated to convince you that the £10 membership fee is more worthy than it is x

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  10. I think the concept is really interesting, trying to get on board with the whole beauty subscription boxes, but the one gripe is, is that you are joining a membership for one specific brand which hasn't really established itself yet in the beauty community - am excited to try my bits out and see how I get along with them! xx

    www.iridescentplaces.com

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  11. I was really interested by this from your first couple of paragraphs, but once you go into more detail I'm put off a little! It will be interesting to see how the brand gets on and what more people think about it.

    Gemma Louise

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  12. Rosie Middleton28.12.16

    I was a bit sceptical at first but I signed up on a whim - I had a nice wage that month and wanted to treat myself. I much prefer to buy a few things rather than splurge on one thing only so thought, why not try it?
    Well, let me tell you how thoroughly impressed I am. I've struggled to find a full coverage foundation that a) is pale enough with the right undertones and b) doesn't oxidise.
    My skin has never looked so flawless.
    I also ordered a blusher and a bronzer - they're great for the price but nothing spectacular.
    But my new holy grail is the matte lipstick. I applied one coat at 8am and at 10pm it was still flawless, with absolutely no fading or patchiness that I find far too often. And that's with copious coffee, eating, smoking and talking

    I've now ordered almost all of the lipsticks shades so I may lose my excitement when Im paying a subscription for something where I've already purchased everything I'm interested in, but for now I can only praise the items I've used so far

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  13. I love the matte lipsticks from beauty pie, faveee.
    KatieMariesBlog.com

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  14. Sarah T12.1.17

    Thanks for this! The pink lipstick and gloss I leep seeing are catching my eye. BUT alas, im a marketers dream. Bring on the glossy ads, the promise of glamour and lovely packaging. I'm brand fickle. I crave variety and treat beauty shopping as some very special me-time ☺️x

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  15. Such an interesting informative post! What makes me laugh is how ridiculous the "non-member" prices are in comparison to how much they are at factory cost! It's astonishing!! In principal the concept of it is good, but I wouldn't be able to commit to just one brand, in fact my make up bag is made up of so many different brands! x

    Victoria | VictoriaaHelenn

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