Merle Norman Cosmetics

MerleNorman1

Merle Norman Cosmetics is revamping its look and offering new spa services. 

By Kat Zeman

Though it’s been more than 86 years since Merle Norman first introduced her skincare and cosmetics products, the family-owned and operated company is still empowering men and women through its products and business opportunities. 

Los Angeles-based Merle Norman Cosmetics develops, manufactures and distributes its own full line of skin care and cosmetic products.

They are sold through independently owned and operated Merle Norman Cosmetic Studios in the United States and Canada.

While the company still follows its founder’s vision, it is in the process of updating its look. It has invested money into new designs, Merle Norman Fact Boxproducts, technology and merchandising programs in an effort to improve its industry image.

“You’re going to start seeing a new Merle Norman Cosmetics look and level of engagement,” says Travis Richards, vice president of franchising. “We’re going to reclaim the consistency of our brand. We’ve always had exceptional products and training. Now we’re tackling our distribution model to create a cohesive look … We’re not going to change who we are but we are becoming more modern.”

Spa and Facials

Merle Norman Cosmetics, a company long known for its skin care products, is adding professional grade spa services to its brand. It has introduced five new spa-grade products to its line in addition to a robust spa program.  

“The future of the franchise is the day spa and cosmetics offerings,” Richards says.” For an initial investment of $1,200 to $4,000, depending upon equipment selected, its current franchisees can add a spa to their existing Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio.

Franchisees will receive education, business support and marketing materials. These include training materials that detail product information, customer service and sales skills as well as business support in the form of comprehensive guides. Finally, they will receive in-store, social media, advertising and PR product materials.   

New Look

One challenge for Merle Norman Cosmetics is in how some of its franchisees merchandise their studios.

Many of the current Merle Norman Cosmetic Studios have a “look but don’t touch” type of feel with clear display cases that do not allow the customer to interact with the products. Richards is out to change that, too. For example, the clear cases will be replaced with open “play tables” that allow customers to touch and interact with the products.

“We haven’t completely changed the design of the studio but we’ve added enhancements and have evolved it,” Richards says. Other enhancements include subtle contemporary wood grain cabinetry, tile flooring, LED lighting, glass shelves, adding tables and chairs with chrome accents around the studio and lastly new color schemes. The new merchandising acrylics will be tested in select studios this year and rolled out early next year. “It’s got a really different look and feel, it begins the discussion about our products with customers in a manner the younger customer is accustomed to,” he adds. “We’re really excited about it.”

Merle Norman products are made primarily in the United States and the company has invested millions of dollars into upgrading its manufacturing processes and equipment.   

Unique Franchise Model

Merle Norman Studios are located in a variety of retail areas including malls, strip centers and stand-alone buildings. Many existing retail businesses have added a Merle Norman studio to their location as a store-in-store concept. These include gift shops, boutiques, salons, pharmacies, jewelry stores and bridal/dress shops.

“We’re unique,” Richards says. “What works in one market won’t necessarily work in another market. We have an initial investment range that will suit many different opportunities.  Someone can add Merle Norman to their existing business for starting at $35,000 for fixtures and opening inventory. The investment goes up from there depending on location and operating capital needs,” he says. The company does not charge a franchising or royalty fee and also offers its franchisees a 60 percent reimbursement on all approved advertising.

 

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