Is $161 Too Much For An Eyeshadow Palette?

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 11 beauty brand founders: When Hourglass recently released a $161 five-pan eyeshadow palettecritics called the price tag “ridiculous” and “insane.” Do you think there’s an amount that’s too much to charge for a product like this palette, and why?

Loraine Dowdy Founder, Coloured Raine

I believe, as within any industry, there’s a demographic that every brand speaks to. With the release of the five-pan palette priced at $161, there are some consumers that wouldn’t mind spending the amount because they value the quality of the product along with the brand mission and are willing to it support no matter the cost. There’s something for everyone within the beauty space.

However, I also think it’s important to listen to your audience to see what works best. We are still very much in the midst of a pandemic, and there has been a huge shift in consumer spending. People aren’t keen to easily spend as they once used to. I think it’s important that we as brand owners take a step back and really take the time out to listen to our customers. At the end of the day, we create beautiful products for them.

Kristen Speller Co-Founder, Doubledown Cosmetics

Yes, I do believe that there is an amount that's too much to charge for a product like this palette because, for starters, there are only five shadows. Secondly, the colors aren't groundbreaking as I don't see anything vibrant in all three of the curation sets that would make me go, "I kind of would break the bank for these colors." And, lastly, it doesn't feel special for this price like a limited edition" In addition, Hourglass lacks diversity with their entire product lineup. This just isn't a standout palette as it's ridiculous, in my opinion, on many levels.

Gwen Jimmere CEO and Founder, Naturalicious

Too much? Not at all. There are prices to fit every consumer, every need and every desire. That's like saying a $500 dress is too expensive. Target would be on  your side, Saks would happily disagree with you, and Gucci would laugh and say that's way too cheap. In a world where you can buy $66 frozen collard greens (plus an additional $15.50 for shipping) from Neiman Marcus or a $200 paperclip bookmark from Tiffany, all pricing is fair game. It's too hard to win the race to the bottom anyway, so brands are going in the opposite direction. I'm confident that Hourglass has done its research and knows their target customer will pay $161 for five eyeshadows. For those that balk at the price, that's simply not their customer, and that's OK. There are options for everyone in every price range.

Natalie Plain Founder, Billion Dollar Beauty and Billion Dollar Brows

I’m all about free enterprise, but this palette’s pricing is absurd. Ultimately what makes this palette so obnoxious is that Hourglass doesn’t understand that refillable and sustainable shouldn't cost more. As the founder of the Billion Dollar Box, I pride ourselves on producing a refillable palette that is planet- and pocket book-friendly. Yes, you can have it all without sticking it to the consumer.

Lisa Brill Founder, Qēt Botanicals

We're thrilled that Hourglass is a fellow cruelty-free and vegan beauty brand. They've taken extra steps to remove animal products, including carmine, which comes from beetles and is found in many lip and eye cosmetics. We appreciate this. All of our treatments are entirely-plant based and are also vegan and cruelty-free.

As formulators of all of our own proprietary hair, skincare and body treatments, we know that reaching for our organic and whole plant ingredients is much more expensive than the easy-to-find synthetic and not cruelty-free alternative ingredients. This is something to consider and can affect the price when looking for clean or cruelty-free ingredient labels on any cosmetic or beauty product. It's a shame that cruelty-free, clean and/or organic ingredients are multiples higher in cost than traditional ingredients.

We're also happy to see that this eyeshadow palette is completely reusable. The beauty industry is known for accumulating and causing extreme waste when it comes to packaging. We took extra steps in developing a half box to house many of our glass bottles. For Hourglass, having a refillable palette rather than a single-use palette is a conscious decision to be waste savvy. Kudos for these efforts.

Then, there's the price for the palette. They sell each individual refillable color for $29, so ultimately the price is $16 for the refillable five-plan eyeshadow palette, which comes filled as a first purchase for $161. When broken down individually, we see many other eye makeup brands that are actually more expensive, single-use and not vegan or cruelty free. On the flip side, of course there are brands that sell their filled eyeshadow palettes for less.

The bottom line? Maybe it comes down to brand loyalty, trust in the quality of the ingredients, if they're safe to use, if you have sensitivities as a consumer, and whether or not you feel comfortable paying that price tag. There are almost always more and less expensive options out there. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes it's also in the beholder's wallet and in what they're willing to spend.

Paying the price of a product is an intimate decision because many personal factors come into play, including label ingredients and company ethics. Ultimately, if it's something you can't feel good about, then it's not worth paying the price at any price level.

Meryl Marshall Co-Founder, President and Chief Product Officer, Hynt Beauty

We are striving to offer more sustainable packaging solutions such as a magnetic palette that we have in the works. Unlike Hourglass's refillable palette, ours will be able to accommodate shadows of different shapes and sizes from not only Hynt Beauty, but from any brand because our ultimate goal is to strive for a better product that will be beneficial to the consumer and practical for our environment.

We want to promote sustainable practices because we know in the beauty space that most consumers will have a few products from multiple brands as the market is so diluted with so many options at the moment. The Hourglass palette will only accommodate an Hourglass eyeshadow and, for the price, practicality and sustainability of it, I think they could have taken in to consideration those concepts.

Ellice Darien Founder, Ellice Darien Beauty

I believe there is a price for everyone. However, the problem would be if that palette isn’t spectacular.

Samantha Cutler Founder, Petite ‘n Pretty

When Hourglass was determining their SRP [suggested retail price], they likely looked at the price of single eyeshadows in the prestige category. Also, they wanted to have the same price for all shades and finishes—and did an average. Colors with high pearl are going to be a higher cost for Hourglass, so they came up with a number they felt made sense.

Aimee Rauseo Founder and CEO, Peachy Queen Cosmetics

The Hourglass eyeshadow palette at a $161 is quite shocking, especially with so many brands out there that have great quality formulas at affordable prices. The palette offers something a little different to the industry with refillable and customizable palette packaging, but a $161 price tag doesn’t seem to reasonable, especially during these times. Even for a luxury makeup brand,  five shades for over $150 is pushing it. There are other brands in the industry that are starting to offer refillable packaging, which is a direction that we all should consider to cut back on waste in the beauty industry.

Krysta Lewis Founder, Aisling Organics

It's hard to say without having access to the ingredient list. [It] doesn't seem to be shown on the website, only claims of what isn't in it. I say that because, if it was a solid formula with a handful of good quality active ingredients, then a higher price could be justified. I'm seeing serums on the market for $200 and are essentially just argan oil. That's where I think consumers are being taken advantage of.

To answer your question, in this case, I would say that it's overpriced without knowing the ingredients and seeing that it's only a five-pan palette. It also seems a bit out of character for Hourglass as their other products are prestige priced, but not to this level of "luxury."

Melanie Cruickshank Founder, Da Lish Cosmetics

This is a prestige brand, and the palette is in line with their pricing of products. Some people are going to look at this palette and think it’s outrageous. Others won’t think twice. Guess which audience this is targeting?!? Many brands are switching to the refillable components, which means this investment is going to be passed on to the consumer.

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