Marketing before Science in the Cosmetic Industry

I can completely understand how something like this happens. Overzealous marketers were selling iPhone apps that use colored lights to supposedly treat acne. The FTC found out and brought action against the two app makers. They subsequently stopped selling the products because they couldn’t prove they worked. Of course, not before they sold over $25,000 worth of product. Their fines totaled about $16,000. Seems reasonable.

Marketing pressure

So how does a product like this even get made?

This happens frequently in the cosmetic industry. It usually goes something like this.

1. Company outside the cosmetic industry sees problem not solved (e.g. acne)
2. Same company sees size of market.
3. Company creates product & makes impressive claims without adequate testing.
4. Company cashes in on desperate consumers.
5. Company keeps collecting money until FDA or FTC figure it out and shut them down.

Unfortunately, this last step doesn’t always happen and consumers waste lots of money on products that don’t work.

The other unfortunate thing is that marketers from legitimate cosmetic companies will see products like these that are making money and they will pressure their cosmetic chemists to come up with copycat products. When their scientists tell them they can’t do it, they risk being labeled obstructionists and having diminished reputations. But such is the life of a cosmetic chemist.

There will be times you have to disappoint your marketing people. Just remember to do it in a friendly way. You don’t want to develop an adversarial relationship with your marketers. You need each other to be successful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *