Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Besides testing and reviewing products, the one thing that really interests me about the beauty industry is the evolution of how brands interact with the customer, particularly in the online space. However, a real problem area still exists with bricks-and-mortar counters, all revolving around key principle of customer service (or lack of!). I submitted this article as part of Beauty Heaven’s Blogstar competition and thought I would reproduce it on my own blog. You are all consumers – what are your thoughts?

There’s been a lot of noise lately about shoppers skipping bricks-and-mortar department stores and making their beauty purchases online. The retailers are complaining that they can’t compete, but is price really the problem?

For decades, department stores have held a monopoly on high-end cosmetics. It didn’t matter what the price was and what the service was like – if you wanted the product, you had no choice but to buy it there. Over the past few years, aided by a boom in e-commerce, beauty products have become far more accessible to a broader range of consumers. The retail landscape has changed significantly but many counters are failing to adapt.

Price is a key factor but it seems that many brands have forgotten the basic element of sales – customer service. Customers want to be pampered and to feel special. They want someone to help them who is polite and knowledgeable, and can show them the right products and techniques to look their best. A customer has to feel comfortable enough to share their insecurities with a complete stranger.


Beauty brands often strive for the image of luxury, but some staff are confusing this with unapproachable. A sales assistant should not be snooty or aloof, no matter what brand they are representing. Most of the time I’m too scared to come within five metres of the counter, let alone touch the products for fear of a sales assistant snapping “Can I help you?!”. This is one of the key factors that has made beauty bloggers so popular – the ability to see real-life photos of products from the comfort of your home, without the pestering and the hard sell.

Given the universal policy of not accepting returns on used cosmetics, customers want to be absolutely sure before they buy. Trying on products is essential, but often there is reluctance by counter staff to spend the time on a proper application. Foundations and skincare need to be trialled for a few days, so why are counters so loath to provide samples? Customers don’t want to feel like they are begging for the right to try products.

One-off sales need to be translated into long-term relationships through positive experiences. Redeemable makeovers have become a popular way to add value, as have in-store visits by international makeup artists. Some brands even demonstrate key looks in dedicated studios at the back of the counter.

Everyone likes a free gift, but purchasing rewards are in desperate need of an update – how many of us have a huge bag of unused, generic samples sitting under the bathroom sink amongst a pile of cosmetic bags? Products chosen by the customer and tailored to their needs will provide the most popular and provide highest level of satisfaction. Interestingly, no-one has thought to implement a points-based loyalty program like Sephora’s hugely popular Beauty Insider.

Have you drifted away from the department stores? What could they do differently to win you back?


2012 New Year’s Resolutions

Posted: January 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Why are most people so down on New Year’s resolutions? I think the start of a new year can be a great time to draw a line in the sand and make positive changes to your life. The key is to actually have a plan. Most people set goals and fail because they haven’t thought about what they need to do to get there.

Here are a few things I hope to accomplish in 2012:

1. Read 12 books. I used to be a reading machine when I was a kid. I churned through every single Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl book in existence, and spent countless hours at the library. Once I started uni, it all stopped. All those dry, boring textbooks and academic papers killed my enthusiasm and I hardly touched a book for four years. I’m pleased to say that after a few years in the wilderness, I’m back on the wagon and looking forward to my first read of 2012, The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do.

2. Go to the gym three times a week. I usually go to the gym a few times a week but I’ve been a bit slack over the last six months. I want to get fit so I can do Run for the Kids again, plus I want to lose a bit of weight but most of all, I don’t want to waste money on something that I’m paying for every fortnight! I’m going to go to Results class on Mondays, Body Pump on Thursdays and run on the treadmill on Wednesdays. That equals about $4 a visit.

3. Save more, spend less. I want to save more for a few reasons: (i) I want to build up a deposit for an apartment (ii) I want to have enough money to go to New York in 2013. I want to spend less for a few reasons: (i) I already have way too many clothes and accessories and way too much makeup, all of which are underutilised (ii) My apartment is hard to live in when it is so cluttered with stuff (iii) I feel overconsumed – buying stuff isn’t as fun as it used to be.

4. Bring my lunch to work four days a week. This spins out of goal number three. It’s very expensive to buy your lunch every day – I’d know, because I used to do it. $10 x 5 days x 48 weeks = $2,400 = yowser! I can’t quit altogether, I mean, I’ve been buying my lunch every Friday ever since my first lunch order in Prep. It’s a big deal for me. However, if I only bought my lunch one day a week and put the money I would have spent on the other four days in a jar, I’d save $1,920. That’s more than enough for my plane ticket to New York.

What are your goals for 2012?

2011 Highlights

Posted: January 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

I was flicking through my iPhone the other day and realised that I’ve collected quite a selection of photos over the year while I’ve been out and about town. Here’s a few highlights…

I watched Kim Clijsters defeat Li Na in the Australian Open Women’s Final…

I attended my first ever rugby union game at AAMI Park (Go Rebels!)…

I cheered the Tigers to a good win (vs Essendon at Dreamtime at the ‘G)…

I took a winter trip to Darwin…

…and a cruise down Katherine Gorge…

…I strolled along Port Melbourne beach…

…I witnessed show time at the Regent Theatre…

…someone bought me flowers…

…the city was guarded by giant Batman babies…

…I ate my first ever vanilla slice…

…I ate breakfast at OST (Bridge Rd, Richmond)…

…I posted a letter to Santa at City Square…

…I ticked off a bucket list item – drinking Veuve at The Italian!

Winner! Prada Tendre Giveaway

Posted: February 3, 2011 in Uncategorized
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The winner of the Prada Tendre 50ml EDP giveaway is Abby! She named her favourite fragrance as CK One.

Abby, check your inbox for the next steps.

Thanks to everybody who entered and stay tuned for more giveaways in the future!

Following on from yesterday’s post on re-gifting, I have decided to give away the unwanted perfume that I received. I never actually revealed what scent I was talking about – it’s Prada Tendre. As a light, soft floral fragrance lover, it’s not quite right for me, but it may be for you!

The Perfume Connection tells me that “notes include citrus, mandarin, neroli, bergamot, maté leaves, cedar, cardamom, plum, vanilla, incense, jasmine, vetiver, patchouli leaves, sandalwood, labdanum and benzoin”.

The perfume is almost new – I spritzed it once – and in the original box. It’s a 50ml EDP.

How do I win it?

There’s two different ways you can win:

  1. Subscribe to my blog by clicking the ‘Sign me up!’ button on the left of screen, then leave a comment below naming your all-time favourite perfume!
  2. For a bonus entry, follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: “Follow @MelbourneBeauty and RT to win a Prada Tendre 50ml EDP! Click this link for a bonus entry and rules:

This competition will close on Australia Day (Wednesday 26 January) at 11:59pm. The winner will be selected at random under the supervision and guidance of my super clever statistically-minded boyfriend.

Due to shipping restrictions, this one is for Australian readers only.

Good luck! 🙂

The Art of Re-Gifting

Posted: January 11, 2011 in Uncategorized
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My wonderful colleague splashed out this year and bought me a bottle of expensive fragrance for Christmas. As a lover and collector of perfume, I was excited at first but when I took in the aroma of the first spritz, my heart sank. It was a spicy, heavy oriental, the fragrance of a sexy, seductive, confident woman. On me, it was overpowering. Actually, to be quite frank, it ponged and it gave me a headache.

What could I do with it? I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t like it, and I didn’t have the receipt so I couldn’t exchange it. And then there was the fact that I’d already sprayed it. I couldn’t throw it out either – what a waste! I turned my thoughts to people I knew that could pull this fragrance off – maybe I could re-gift it?

A series of re-gifting faux pas by my grandmother had always left an impression on me that re-gifting is wrong. After all, she was the one who held on to a hand cream given to her by her daughter-in-law for 20+ years (note: this hand cream was so old that the writing had faded off the tube!), only to re-gift it to her now-divorced son’s new wife! In my mind, re-gifting was something you did when you couldn’t be bothered spending any of your hard-earned cash on a present for someone else.

But what about things like the perfume? Perfume is tricky because people usually have a very distinct preference as to what they do and don’t like. Plus it’s expensive, so if you mess up, it’s a costly mistake. I know that my trash could well be someone else’s treasure, but is it disrespectful to both the original gift-giver and the new recipient to gift something that was picked out especially for you? eBay doesn’t seem to think so – they sent me an email first thing on Boxing Day to let me know that I could list my unwanted gifts for free and use the proceeds to buy something I really want.  In fact, I even remember Nova hosting a very successful Christmas gift swap meet a few years ago.

Personally, I think re-gifting is ok – let’s face it, we’ve all received gifts that are the wrong size, shape, colour, or just plain wrong altogether – but you have to be very careful toorder to avoid hurting a loved one’s feelings. My policy for recycling gifts is as follows:

  1. Re-gifters need a good memory. You don’t want to be caught out giving a gift back to the person who gave it to you in the first place (see Nanna’s mistake above). It’s best to move unwanted items on quickly, and never in the same social circle.
  2. Never regift anything handmade or with a personal message in it. Who wants to be around when your friend opens up the new Jamie Oliver cookbook you gave her and sees a lovingly scribed note on the title page from Aunty Betty? 
  3. Never regift anything in bad condition. It sends the message that you couldn’t give a damn about the recipient. I still can’t forget moving into my apartment and receiving a mop with a dirty, old dried-out sponge on it from my almost mother-in-law.
  4. Never regift anything obviously used and pretend that it’s something you bought yourself. You’re better off just being honest and giving it to someone. There’s nothing wrong with saying that the vase you received on Christmas Day and put flowers in is not to your taste. Just don’t go on and on about how ugly you think it is because the recipient will think that they’re being used as a dumping ground for your unwanted junk.

(You wouldn’t believe it, as I am typing this, a colleague just regifted some chocolates to another colleague! In his defence, he was honest about their origin and the fact that he didn’t like chocolate.)

What are your thoughts on re-gifting? Tell me in the comments section below!

(EDIT: I guess you’re wondering what I’m going to do with the perfume. I’ve decided to be honest, admit it was a gift and give it away to one of my readers. Stay tuned for the next post which will contain further details.)