Prescriptives, Out

It’s the end of an era, folks. Estee Lauder announced yesterday that it will be closing Prescriptives and will cease distribution globally by January 31st, 2009. This is the first time Estee Lauder has ever closed down one of its brands.

Why are they closing it? It just wasn’t successful anymore. Estee Lauder has been hit hard by the economic crisis, so it seems as though they are trimming the fat. Apparently this has been a long time coming. Frankly, I’m not terribly surprised.
Whenever I wandered around the cosmetics department of a store, the Prescriptives counters seemed to be ghost towns. And sometimes weren’t even manned. Of course you can always get someone from another counter to ring you up if you want something from an unmanned counter, but that person hasn’t necessarily been trained in that brand’s product lines and may not be able to help you if you don’t know exactly what you want.
Prescriptives as a brand lacks personality. I mean look at MAC. They have a personality. They’re out there, they’re creative, they’re edgy, and oh so cool. Estee Lauder is reliable and classic. Clinique is the brand for skincare and median-price good quality cosmetics in a wide variety of neutral palettes. Many of us started on Clinique as young girls. Who is Prescriptives? They seem to have a sort of ‘clinical’ vibe like Clinique, but do we need another Clinique? The test tube-shaped lip glosses makes me think of science classrooms and lab coats, but when I think of lab coats I think of Clinique. Prescriptives never seemed to do a good job of establishing a strong personality concept or message. And just like a boring American Idol performance, it’s “forgettable”.
When Prescriptives was born the idea of “colorprinting” was revolutionary and all the rage. Now it’s not as much, and many other brands are doing it anyway. That you could get custom foundation and other products from them has always been a cool concept, but not all locations offered this service. A custom foundation isn’t cheap either. I believe they run about $60. With so much competition from other brands with very wide shade selections that cost half that, why would I want to drop $60 on a foundation? Apparently a lot of other people felt the same way, because it hasn’t been a money maker for Estee Lauder in a while.
All of this is not to say that they don’t have a lot of good products in the brand, but I have a feeling some similar products will be showing up in other brands in the near future. Seriously, can you just think of the madness if now MAC started doing custom foundations? Estee Lauder owns the technology of Prescriptives’ custom match process, so it could happen. And I guarran-frickin-ty you it would sell like hotcakes just because it has the MAC name on it, especially if it’s within the general pricepoint of other MAC cosmetics. Mark my words.
I believe that the bulk of the reason why Prescriptives did not succeed as a brand is marketing, marketing, marketing. It’s a shame, but I really hope the good things about Prescriptives’ brand will be absorbed into the other brands in the Estee Lauder family.
Are there other brands doomed to the same fate as Prescriptives? Rumors are swirling about another Estee Lauder brand, Origins, also shutting its doors. Other rumors abound about the brand too. One rumor is that they are scrapping their color cosmetics line completely and concentrating the brand solely on skincare. Another rumor is their current color cosmetics will be scrapped in favor of an all organic line. I guess time will tell if any of those are true…


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