How Merle Norman Stands Out in the Crowded Cosmetics Market

Studio owners say outstanding products and a fantastic customer experience are keys to success

The cosmetics and skin care industry generates more than $62 billion each year in the United States, and that figure is expected to climb in the future, according to Demanding consumers have a plethora of options when it comes to where to buy beauty products and services.

Department stores, grocery stores and malls all offer cosmetics and skin care brands in a range of prices. At Sephora and Ulta Beauty, shoppers will find almost all of the brands (low-end and prestige and everything in between) under one roof. Even direct sales reps with multi-level marketing companies (including Rodan+Fields, Mary Kay and Avon) bring in almost $6 billion total each year selling “beauty and personal care” products, according to the Direct Selling Association.

In such a highly charged and competitive climate — vying for customer attention, brand loyalists and devoted fans — how do Merle Norman Cosmetics franchise owners set themselves apart in their communities? How do they attract, serve and keep their customers?

Merle Norman Cosmetics studios offer great products and a fantastic customer experience

Our most successful studio owners say two aspects of the Merle Norman brand and legacy make their studios a No. 1 choice for customers: outstanding, high-quality products that work and a customer-centric shopping/makeover/spa experience.

Hear from some of our franchise owners about how their Merle Norman studios stand out from the competition:

“One main thing is the cost and quality of our products. In stores like Sephora and Ulta, products are so much higher [in price] than at Merle Norman. You won’t get that much more for all that money, either.

“To me, those things — the quality, the price and Merle Norman’s satisfaction guarantee — all set us far apart from the competition.”

Robyn Steinmetz, multi-unit owner in Little Rock, Arkansas

“When a customer comes into our store, they get nothing but Merle Norman. They go into Sephora and Ulta, and it’s just a jumbled variety of this, that and the other. There’s too many name brands. It’s confusing. We’re all one brand here, and we’re more personalized.

We’re immaculately clean. We pride ourselves on that, too. And you’re just not going to find that anywhere else. We have everything that Sephora has — every darn thing. But it’s more organized and cleaner.

“With our competitors, you don’t get to try before you buy. I have had numerous customers come in and say, “Oh my goodness. I got this foundation at the drugstore. I paid this for it. And it’s horrible. Oh, I just love yours.” And even though ours may cost a little more money, it works. They’re actually saving money and getting a better brand.”

Barbara Norris, multi-unit owner in Arizona

“I have always believed that the quality of the products is second to none. I always kind of knew that because when I’d try different brands, I would always come back to Merle Norman.

“However, here’s the one thing that solidified it for me: After I bought my first studio, we went to training at the home office for two weeks. During that training course, we toured the factory where they make all the products. I was totally blown away as I watched them take all those raw ingredients and individually measure everything that goes into the products.

“When you purchase products from other brands, you’re buying a lot of marketing that hooks you in. But once I saw what goes into a Merle Norman product, I knew that you pay exactly for what you are purchasing. The other brands are really marketing baloney, where our stuff is the real deal. Our products are absolutely the best on the market.

“We offer a relationship. I don’t go into Sephora and find the same person next time. Who knows if they’re going to work there anymore? We know our product, and we’re going to sell the right thing for you. I don’t always believe that about those stores. I really feel it’s more like they’re selling you what they need to sell this week.”

Tammy Escobar, multi-unit owner in Illinois  

“Because of our years of experience and our reputation, we have more authority on skin care and makeup, and our customers rely on that. Twice last week I had someone come in I hadn’t seen in quite a while. The reason that they came back was because they said they knew that I’d give them the right product.

“In the skin care and cosmetics world, it’s a candy store out there right now! But if we continue to do what we do best — being the experts in our field and being consistent in the service and quality we offer — customers will come back to us because we’re the ones that have been around so long.

“Hands down, Merle Norman has the best products. You can tell when someone’s been using Merle Norman. The products will speak for themselves.”

Renee Hitt, studio owner in Wisconsin

“When I go to department store cosmetics counters, I know when I’m just being pushed the product. They don’t care whether it’s good for me or not. They just want to make a sale. That is the polar opposite of my goals. My goal is to build a relationship with that customer, to educate that customer and really find something that is going to help with their issue — not just try to sell another high-dollar serum or product.

“Literally, weekly, I hear from my customers, ‘I won’t go to the mall anymore. I used to use XYZ with this or that name brand, but I want to come over here and see what you’ve got because I trust that you’re going to give me the right information and tell me what I truly need.’ ”

Renee Rollins, studio owner in Texas  

Ready to bring Merle Norman Cosmetics to your community?

We are actively recruiting entrepreneurs to open Merle Norman Cosmetics studios in markets all over the United States. We offer a wide variety of studio options at different investment price points, and we never charge a franchise or royalty fee.

If you’re looking for an affordable business that’s easy to run and easy to scale, Merle Norman could be perfect for you and the women in your community.

Learn more by exploring our research pages or requesting a copy of our free Franchise Information Report.

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