Merle Norman Expected to Thrive Despite E-commerce Boom of Health and Beauty Products
Unique products and a focus on personalized experience create loyal customers
In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing digital world, potential franchisees may wonder if Merle Norman’s brick-and-mortar store model is a liability. Actually, the opposite is true. The key characteristics of our brand, created by Merle Norman herself almost 100 years ago, will enable our franchise owners to succeed even in the middle of online retailers’ growth.
Our award-winning, prestige, yet affordable products are made of the finest ingredients; cozy and inviting community-oriented studios; and a high-touch, personalized customer service model all make Merle Norman a standout in the beauty and skin-care industry.
In fact, we’ve enjoyed an impressive growth spurt lately. In 2018, we grew by 56 percent over the previous year and added 47 new studios, and we anticipate more expansion in 2019.
“We’re not afraid of the digital world at all,” says Travis Richards, Vice President of Franchising. “We know that we’ve got a winning formula with our business model, as seen with our recent growth. We have every reason to believe that in 2019 we’ll enjoy more of the same: more franchise owners in more communities selling more products and services to more customers. That’s something you can’t get from a website or a digital shopping cart.”
According to eMarketer.com, Amazon’s U.S. sales of health and beauty products increased more than 37 percent over 2017, reaching approximately $16 billion in 2018. Edison Trends data reports that health and beauty is the third-most-purchased category on Amazon, and in 2018, brands Neutrogena and Dove captured the largest market share. Rounding out the top five were L’Oreal, Garnier and Olay.
“Those statistics about Amazon purchases do not set off any alarms for us,” says Richards. “Merle Norman is not an ‘ordinary’ brand that customers price-shop online. Our products are one-of-a-kind and outshine the competition on quality, performance and value. Comparing someone’s purchase of Oil of Olay on Amazon to a Merle Norman shopping experience is not even a fair comparison.”
Merle Norman’s consumer-driven consultation experience is nothing new – they invented it in 1932! Franchise owners and their staff know their customers and are able to offer informed assistance based upon their experience. Customers regard their Merle Norman studio owners as experts when it comes to cosmetics and skin care, and they are able to take home samples of any product before they make a purchase.
Merle Norman Cosmetics Studios are unique buying experiences for customers
Other research indicates these hallmarks of Merle Norman are keys to our success, especially in our digital world. According to a Pymnts.com survey, “the most important factors for US female beauty buyers in choosing a store were special sales, unique products and rewards programs.”
Merle Norman checks off all three. We have an exclusive product and service line that is only available through our studios, and franchise owners have great freedom to customize special offers for their stores. Our seasonal free gifts with purchase reward frequent buyers with trial sizes of our most popular products.
We’re not oblivious, however, to the fact that our studio owners and customers have been asking for a digital option to shop for Merle Norman products. We are working on an e-commerce platform that will roll out later this year.
“We’re not ready to give out specifics just yet,” says Richards. “We know that our customers like the convenience of online ordering and delivery, and our studio owners want to be able to provide that to their customers. The e-commerce initiative will never replace the studio experience or the relationship with the owner or the staff. But we do believe it will further enhance the customer’s buying experience. We’re working closely with our franchisees to get the partnership program right.”
Now is the time to open a Merle Norman Cosmetics Studio
There’s never been a better time than right now to become a Merle Norman cosmetics franchisee. We are in the middle of a successful, exciting franchise recruitment effort, which will position our company for growth and expansion into the next decade.