General Question

robmandu's avatar

Do our national-chain supermarkets really sell black market hair care products?

Asked by robmandu (21285points) October 8th, 2008

According to Paul Mitchell and Redken they do.

They claim their product gets to the supermarket shelves due to break of contract or theft and that the products themselves are old, tampered with, or counterfeit.

But I have a hard time believing it. Breach of contract has legal remedy… or stop dealing with those people. Theft and the acquisition of expired product is hardly a reliable way to sustain the supply chain that gets items on supermarket shelves.

Is this a massive conspiracy? Or poor product distribution? Or a serious problem in control of trademarked branding? Or what?

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8 Answers

jsc3791's avatar

I have often wondered this too. If Paul Mitchell says that their products are not sold in super markets, what are the bottles of Paul Mitchell on the shelves??

syz's avatar

On a related side note, I’m more concerned about various reports that allege that as many as one in four prescriptions contain counterfeit medications.

fireside's avatar

With these types of higher end products, there is usually a distribution contract that allows wholesalers to only sell within their region to salons. What happens, I believe, is that wholesalers from outside the market make deals with these supermarkets and sell them bulk quantities of product they haven’t moved yet at a huge discount.

My parents sold Redken and other high end products for years and would always get mad when they saw someone selling product that they were supposed to have exclusive rights to in our area.

The problem is that the control numbers that are printed on the bottles are usually removed so there is no way of tracing the product back to its source. They do have lawsuits where the trail is revealed.

jsc3791's avatar

@fireside – wow that is interesting! and scandalous!

tonedef's avatar

This also reminds me of cat and dog flea medication. I’ve heard that, unless you get it from a vet, it’s not legit. And that’s why 1–800-Pet-meds is so cheap- that stuff is expired. Allegedly! I have no proof.

robmandu's avatar

So far, these sound like packaging problems that have been solved elsewhere already. The manufacturer should be able to label the package with non-erasable control codes (etching is one way I can think of) and also place a human-readable expiration/use-by date in plain sight. At the price per ounce of some of these products, I can’t believe there’s insufficient margin to support this basic innovation.

So, are the manufacturers putting on a good face by having an awareness campaign, but in reality profiting from the ability to charge a premium for “exclusive” rights whilst moving the bulk of product thru “unapproved” channels?

fireside's avatar

that’s a great point, rob.

what I described was almost 20 years ago, i would think that there would be no need for those issues to continue.

The margin on a lot of this product is really incredible by the time it gets to the consumer. i think it doubles each time it changes hands.

robmandu's avatar

Counterpoint from a manufacturer on the problem of counterfeiting.

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