A Skinny Scent?

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Posted January 22, 2013 by Katherine Toll in Building Your Brand
birchboxTypically, I delight in receiving my Birchbox treasure trove each month and hold the founders of the company in high regard, but I have am anorexic bone to pick with them this week. If you’re not familiar with Birchbox– it is a monthly subscription service that curates different beauty samplings exclusively for me. (Actually, Birchbox curates it for a woman between the age of 44 – 55 with dry skin, dark eyes, and dark hair.)  The package ships in a bright pink box, and offers a lovely respite from an otherwise dreary day.

Two Harvard Business School students, Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, founded Birchbox in 2010 and it’s been a runaway success. I followed the ladies progress the last few years marveling at their simple, yet elegant solution to the ‘try before you buy’ beauty dilemma. Katia Beauchamp told Forbes magazine that,

 It’s like having a beauty editor as your best friend. We don’t just send [beauty] samples, but tell the story about each product and how to get the most out of each one. We’re a source of information and inspiration.

Last Saturday, after a particularly hellish week on the road (replete with the stomach flu) I arrived home to find my monthly Birchbox waiting for me. As I opened the carton I perused the cover of my February issue of InStyle noting the ridiculous contrast between the cover headlines –- ‘Love Your Shape!’  and ‘9 Muffin Top Miracles!’ Talk about a mixed message….one headline shouts accept yourself, while the other one perkily reminds us to stay on top of our bodies’ flaws.

I brought my attention back to my Birchbox as I started to unwrap my samples – a lovey hair oil from Ojon, a fab navy blue nail lacquer by Alessandro, and a new fragrance by Harvey Prince, Skinny Chic. HUH?

The fragrance name pulled me up short, so I took a peek inside to read one of the most distressing marketing messages ever written,

Sexy, zesty, and bursting with energy. Skinny Chic is your daily cure for the common bore. A spritz a day keeps you feeling young, slim, and beautiful.

News flash Harvey (Schmuck) Prince! Young, slim, and beautiful are not feelings! Mad, sad, glad, and afraid are feelings….young, slim, and beautiful are adjectives, and pretty damn subjective ones at that! The message bluntly tells women that youth + slim + beautiful = happy. Bullshit.

What’s worse: two brothers founded the company as a gift to their mother. What kind of mother inspires that? A youth-obsessed, anorexic? A neurotic socialite? Am I the only one who thinks this is whacked?

This time the Birchbox founders, Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna blew it. Straight up, ladies: I expect more from you than this. How can you promote a message and product that throws women back to 1953?

To use your own words, you stand on a platform, which allows you to inform and inspire. Do better. 


About the Author

Katherine Toll

Katherine (Kathi) Toll possesses more than 20 years of management and consulting experience within the retail and beauty industry. Her industry experience combined with her special brand of irreverence fuels her mission to find the ‘must-have’ beauty products for Career Girls of all ages. She aspires to remind women the airbrushed perfection of the beauty industry must be tempered with a healthy dose of humor. Kathi holds a general management certification from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, along with an undergraduate degree from Northwestern’s School of Communications.

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