It says right on the bottle, “Guaranteed only when sold by a professional hairdresser” or “Guaranteed when purchased from a salon.” So how does professional product end up on the shelves at Target, Walgreens, or other mass retailers?
The answer is diversion. Somewhere between the manufacturer and the distributor there is a breach of contract and product is sold to a third party. The third party often offers underground deals to those with a legitimate contract with the manufacturer. They “collect” product in this way and then sell the inventory to mass retailers. Product is even occasionally moved out of the country in the diversion process and then it is sold back into the states.
Referred to as the gray market, the unauthorized sale of these products in grocery stores, drugstores, and discount stores is not actually against the law. Many salon brands have tried to pass legislation to make it illegal but have not yet been successful.
So, what’s the problem? Diversion hurts distributors, manufacturers, consumers, and salons. When products start showing up in mass market stores, it hurts the brand image. They are not guaranteed – in fact they may be old, diluted, damaged, or discontinued. Often the batch codes have been damaged or removed, which is downright dangerous if there is a recall.
Furthermore salons are small businesses. I think we all know that small businesses need our support. I know, I know — it’s really convenient to just grab your product while you’re shopping for everything else but think about what you’re doing. According to this New York Times article, honest salons lose about $100 million a year in sales due to diverted product.
Here is the kicker – diverted products are NOT cheaper. That’s right. The products you find at Target are often more expensive than at the salon because they’ve passed through an extra hand. So help everyone out, including yourself, and buy your products in a salon whenever possible.