The Global Makeup Gorillas
April 6, 2016 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Who owns who? Corporate ownership of global makeup brands (Avery Mae Beauty blog)
"Welcome to my research into corporate ownership of global makeup brands! I have been working on this post for quite awhile - I became interested tracing the corporate ownership chains of color cosmetics brands by researching similar formulas of brands owned by the same corporate umbrella and it snowballed into a huge project.

"Why does it matter? My philosophy is that customers and consumers deserve to be informed and that being more informed leads to better decision making. If you have been curious about why certain brands have formulas similar to other brands or how brands change over time, this list will hopefully add some illumination to your buying decisions."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (45 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton

This is an actual company name. Their corporate logo is dudes making it rain at the club.
posted by sio42 at 12:20 PM on April 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


Askme makeup fav Laura Mercier is owned by Amway?!
Amway owns Laura Mercier. I admit,
this one blew my mind and I had to find out how one of my favorite makeup brands came to be under the Amway umbrella. Laura Mercier has gone through several iterations of being bought and sold - the Neiman Marcus Group originally purchased a controlling share in Laura Mercier, which was sold to Gurwhich Group when the Neiman Marcus Group was sold, which was bought out by Alticor Inc, the parent company of Amway.

And Chanel is surprisingly not owned by anyone but Chanel. Neat!
posted by sio42 at 12:23 PM on April 6, 2016


The Global Makeup "Gorillas"? What?
posted by clockzero at 12:25 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Or whom.
posted by Malory Archer at 12:25 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


The whom is obvious, that's the whole point of the post. I'm just confused by the use of that word here. Does it have some kind of special meaning in the fashion world?
posted by clockzero at 12:27 PM on April 6, 2016


"Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton"

They also own Ardbeg* distillery in Islay... I'm eagerly awaiting an "Eau d'Tourbe**" cologne. I'd wear that.
And, I'm afraid, I might be tempted to drink it.

* as well as Glenmorangie distillery
** tourbe == peat

posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:32 PM on April 6, 2016


Gorillas = Big players.

(I think)
posted by pearlybob at 12:32 PM on April 6, 2016


Gorillas = Big players.

There is just so much more to gorillas than their bigness. When we speak of love, does the tenderness of the gorilla mother make it to publication? No. When we speak of vegetarianism, do we note the noble gorilla's sterling example? Hardly ever.
posted by clockzero at 12:44 PM on April 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


Yeah, the gorilla is a person or a company with the ability to throw its weight (money, influence) around.
posted by explosion at 12:44 PM on April 6, 2016


To recaptitulate: Gorillas, many of who (or else whom) are not simians, own make-up companies which are not made-up.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:48 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Gorillas don't often wear makeup, though.
posted by quaking fajita at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2016


Laura Mercier Amway, wow. Also, that Jane and Stila are owned by something named Patriarch Partners, which was founded by and is run by a woman.
posted by Ruki at 12:55 PM on April 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


I was surprised to see Estee Lauder owns MAC, Smashbox and Tom Ford.

MAC in particular seems to try to position itself as an independent company -- I think they make a point of not being sold in Sephora
posted by pocketfullofrye at 12:56 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was so focused on the makeup getting passed around I didn't even notice the gorilla
posted by beerperson at 1:03 PM on April 6, 2016 [31 favorites]


When I was doing my library degree I took a course on reference work, and one of the assignments was a sheet of questions with seemingly simple answers, such as "Who owns [COMPANY]?" This was back during the early days of the internet, so I had to go down to the business library and pull these gigantic reference books off the shelf, look up [COMPANY] and...it turned out that this seemingly simple question did not have a simple answer because [COMPANY] was owned by [ANOTHER COMPANY] and *that* [COMPANY] was owned by another...and the higher up the chain you went the more generic the names got. So I started picking businesses at random and going up the chain and very quickly the same creepily non-specific "GloboBusinessCo."-style names began popping up again and again and I got a bit weirded out and depressed.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:05 PM on April 6, 2016 [13 favorites]


I've been working in this industry for coming on two decades, doing work for quite a few of these companies and there were still a few surprises here. It's difficult to keep up with all the mergers/acquisitions/partnerships!


I stumbled into something similar the time I organized my CDs by serial number.
posted by mountmccabe at 1:09 PM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


The other day we were walking around the "fancy" mall in a neighboring city and my husband was like "So how does this even work, all these little super-clean mostly-empty stores, is it just one or two companies that own all of them?" and I was like "Yeah I think LVMH owns pretty much every brand in this mall. It's the only way high-end retail scales."

I wasn't even sure if I was exaggerating, was the weird thing.
posted by town of cats at 1:14 PM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


MAC in particular seems to try to position itself as an independent company -- I think they make a point of not being sold in Sephora

MAC was entirely independent until a few years ago. (In fact, they made their very first lipstick in the founders' kitchen a couple blocks from where I live now). IIRC part of the deal with Lauder was retaining a great deal of independence.

The LVMH thing.. see also e.g. Diageo for alcohol.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:24 PM on April 6, 2016


The Card Cheat: the higher up the chain you went the more generic the names got. So I started picking businesses at random and going up the chain and very quickly the same creepily non-specific "GloboBusinessCo."-style names began popping up again and again and I got a bit weirded out and depressed.

The richest, most powerful people are those you don't hear about, who live secret lives and control vast fortunes, hidden from scrutiny (and general awareness) behind dozens of layers like this.

See also: The Panama Papers, except those who are discovered with any ease aren't really playing the game that well.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:26 PM on April 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also, that Jane and Stila are owned by something named Patriarch Partners, which was founded by and is run by a woman.

Patriarch Partners is basically a private-equity firm. Without checking, I'm fairly confident that those brands were brought into existence by someone else before being bought out by Patriarch.

Lynn Tilton is...a well-known character.

LVMH is actually a very sniffy French conglomerate that thinks it's producing high art.
posted by praemunire at 1:45 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


The LVMH thing.. see also e.g. Diageo for alcohol.

Yeah but Diageo is primarily the "every shelf at BevMo" company. It's insane how big they are but one you have a huge booze (and occasionally food) company out there it's not surprising that they would buy other booze companies. LVMH is like "luxury stuff amalgamated" which is somehow a more alarming concept to me (and also hilariously belies the idea that buying the things they sell puts you in a special and exclusive club).
posted by atoxyl at 1:54 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was surprised to see Estee Lauder owns MAC, Smashbox and Tom Ford.

This is one of those things that because you know it you forget other people don't. I worked for Clinique for a couple of years and they're owned by Estée Lauder Co. When you work for them you can order products with massive staff discounts (dangerous because it comes directly out of your pay so it's easy to order tons of stuff and pretty much hand a big chunk of your wages back to them) and so you knew all the companies they owned because they were on the order list. I remember at the time being especially popular with a cousin of mine who likes the finer things in life because I could get Creme De La Mer products for really cheap. It totally broke my heart going back to paying full price for products when I knew what the markup was.

Anyway is this not A Thing in general? Like does the company who owns Pedigree Chum not also own Mars or something like that?
posted by billiebee at 1:56 PM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ooh, someone do the skincare and Asian beauty versions of this list now!

Meanwhile, the indie brands provide occasional entertaining drama, and Colourpop is owned by the Illuminati.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:13 PM on April 6, 2016



Anyway is this not A Thing in general? Like does the company who owns Pedigree Chum not also own Mars or something like that?


It definitely is -- my surprise is a testament to my susceptibility to marketing more than anything.

For example, I knew that Estee Lauder owned Clinique and Aerin, and I wasn't surprised to find out it also owned Creme de La Mer. To me they're all kind of middle-aged suburban-woman brands.

My sense of MAC and Smashbox was that they were more "indie" and hipper, even though MAC has been around forever now too.

And then Tom Ford seems very fashion-y and high-end compared to any of them.

So basically their brand strategy has worked exactly as intended on me.

Aaaaah it's very embarrassing that I have opinions on makeup brand-identities.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 2:13 PM on April 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


This is the same everywhere: Teapigs is owned by Tetley which is owned by Tata; Ben and Jerry is owned by Unilever.
posted by marienbad at 2:19 PM on April 6, 2016


This entire system also makes things more complicated for vegans and other people very serious about "cruelty free" products, because a brand that claims no animal testing may be owned/bought by a company that does, or otherwise outsource the animal testing. "When a company says it doesn't product-test on animals, that's exactly what it's saying. That company didn't test its products (or ingredients) on animals. But someone, somewhere did."
posted by nicebookrack at 2:35 PM on April 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


Tom Ford used to be a line within the Estee Lauder cosmetics line before being spun off as its own brand.
posted by antimony at 2:47 PM on April 6, 2016


My favorite lux conglomerate is richemont. Get your 400k watch and you 250k brooch at the same store. No waiting.
posted by JPD at 3:46 PM on April 6, 2016


Whaaaaaaat. Three of the makeup brands I splurged on at Sephora recently are owned by the improbably named "Moet Hennessy|Louis Vuitton": Benefit, Bite, and Make Up Forever. AND Sephora itself is also owned by them!! I had no idea at all. I also have no idea why this is blowing my mind so much.

But the Amway/Laura Mercier thing is truly mindblowing.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:58 PM on April 6, 2016


Worth pointing out this doesn't say anything about the actual quality or similarity between products with the same parent owner. It's not saying your favorite expensive eyeliner is the same as a cheap one necessarily. It's still weird, of course, cause of the angles mentioned earlier, but, yea.
posted by odinsdream at 6:42 PM on April 6, 2016


I'd be a lot more interested in the manufacturers than the corporate structure, honestly. A lot of brands share those and it affects the actual product more.

Interesting that a lot of my favorites are independent (OCC, Illamasqua, Anastasia).

The manufacturer question is interesting to me because of things like the Illamasqua and Make-Up Forever liquid eyeliners being virtually identical in formula and packaging. My friend in the industry said they're normally manufactured by different factories but I can't believe that's the case with this product. Only the colors are different.

I'm more loyal to a product I like than a brand, so I love to know things like that!

Also yeah, as I get more into Korean/Japanese product, I'd love to see the same. This list got into it a bit with one big company.

The LMVH thing and similar is pretty evident in high-end fashion, if you're into that kind of thing. I buy a lot of it (second hand, mostly, and I do some consignment and dealing on the side to support my habit) and the quality can vary a lot. I've been personally getting more into very independent brands (like hand-made or produced local to the designer on a small scale) in the interest of slow fashion and not supporting these global conglomerates more than necessary. Not that I can do much, that gets REALLY expensive, REALLY fast. But it's interesting.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 6:52 PM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is fascinating, but not really shocking, right? Like, do you know how global marketing works? I feel like people who are outraged or miffed by this sort of thing may have subscribed to some variant of Fantasy Capitalism that doesn't exist and has never existed ever since the phrase "robber baron" came into common usage.
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:01 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is fascinating, but not really shocking, right?

I'm not -shocked- per se, but it's one thing to see somebody break their arm and another to have it happen to you. The scope is just too large to see a lot of the time.
posted by solarion at 8:27 PM on April 6, 2016


Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton ... making it rain at the club.

And yet they couldn't be arsed to hire a graphic designer to properly kern their logo? That LV ... just ... I dunno ... flames. Flames on the side of my face.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 9:10 PM on April 6, 2016


My parents sold Amway for a lot of years, and they used to have their own makeup brand, Artistry. It was really really great. Maybe this is why I like Laura Mercier so much? I doubt it.. but it's interesting!

I hate MAC and love Bobbi Brown... hmm.
posted by euphoria066 at 9:11 PM on April 6, 2016


I've been thinking of this (and the manufacturing angle) a little bit since I just bought a Too Cool for School compact (a Korean brand) and this review gets into it a little. The corporate structure and branding are one thing, the product is often another. Maybe I should just make a post about that! It's an intense industry.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 9:48 PM on April 6, 2016


The Japanese cosmetics translation blog RatzillaCosme has a narrow focus on assorted Japanese products, but it's still interesting to see which Japanese "Brands" are affiliated with which "Producers."
posted by nicebookrack at 10:14 PM on April 6, 2016


Burt's Bees is owned by Clorox! CeraVe skincare is part of controversial pharmaceutical company Valeant! Soylent green is people!
posted by nicebookrack at 10:22 PM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Swatch owns a number of watch brands including higher end ones like Omega, Breguet and Blancpain.
posted by dabug at 6:07 AM on April 7, 2016


I mostly buy my vegan make-up from Lush and Pacifica but hoo boy, is it expensive. AFAIK, neither of them are owned by seekrit giant companies.
posted by Kitteh at 7:52 AM on April 7, 2016


I'd be a lot more interested in the manufacturers than the corporate structure, honestly. A lot of brands share those and it affects the actual product more.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to tour a cosmetics factory in Shanghai that specialized in GWP and white label products. For the one-off GWP packaging for the big brands, they may take delivery of giant barrels of eyeshadow powder to press into pans for the special palettes and kits, or lipstick or whatever - so that the products in the gift kits was the same as in the full sized stuff.

But they had a full line of their own cosmetics you couldn't buy from them directly - they would only sell white labeled, the purchasing brand may make decisions about color or scent, etc, but the base product was being sold to dozens of different brands. As I remember, their white label customers weren't all small players, some of their more interesting stuff would be put out as "limited edition" products by large cosmetics lines.
posted by antimony at 8:23 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


My wife works in the industry, or a subset of it. Her view is that the larger players generally have much higher standards for traceability, stability, and quality than do the smaller guys. Even the "ethical" smaller players tend to be a bit faster and looser. That isn't to say a bigger guys products are better, just that smaller is probably not by definition a guarantee of a safer product.

If you think about it, it makes sense as L'Oreal has the ability to spend on auditing their supply chain in a way a smaller producer does not. That and L'Oreal risks a lot more than just one brand if they have an issue.
posted by JPD at 8:50 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


The corporate structure and branding are one thing, the product is often another. Maybe I should just make a post about that! It's an intense industry.

This is the interesting angle for me, too. As a new consumer of makeup products, it's very interesting to be finding manufacturing similarities between supposedly different brands. E.g., finding out who actually made a specific formula would be really good info. Probably highly prized though, like antimony's story mentions.
posted by odinsdream at 10:01 AM on April 7, 2016


Non-makeup-related, but yeah, French mega-conglomerates are kind of the submarines of this sort of thing in the world. We often hear about Anglo ones, but France has LVMH, L'Oréal, Lagardère... Lagardère's name is generally associated with publishing, especially their little house Hachette, but they're also tied to the aerospace and defense industry. It gets pretty weird pretty quick.

Speaking of ethical concerns. LVMH also owns De Beers.
posted by fraula at 1:46 PM on April 7, 2016


LVMH does not own DeBeers. They have a retail jv with DeBeers that is immaterial. Debeers is owned by AngloAmerican.
posted by JPD at 2:20 PM on April 7, 2016


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