L’Oréal is pulling the plug on its iconic – and often imitated – Clarisonic brand, best known for its power cleansing brush. The company made the announcement Tuesday on Instagram; emails were sent to customers the next day.
Communications on social and email said the brand would be shutting down as of September 30 and that the decision was made so L’Oréal can focus its attention on other “core business offerings.” The company thanked customers, dermatologists and retail partners “who helped put this brand on the map” over the course of more than 10 years.
The news about the discontinuation of the power cleanser, generally considered the “Q-Tip” of the category, was met with disappointment, questions about warranties and a rush to buy replacement brushes. One consumer, who had seen prices discounted over the past month, said she tried buying products at three outlets—Clarisonic’s own site, Sephora and Ulta Beauty, where she ultimately had success. Inventory is currently marked down 50 percent at authorized retailers such as Amazon, Sephora and Ulta Beauty. Sets that once retailed for $199, for example, are now priced at $99.50.
L’Oréal purchased Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, the developer of the tool, in 2011. Robb Akridge, Steve Meginniss, David Giuliani, Ward Harris and Ken Pilcher are credited as joint developers of the brush, which shook up the traditional cleanser market, and was an Oprah Favorite Things mention in 2007. More than 15 million devices have been sold since the brush was created in 2004.
Buyers and those familiar with the category cited several factors that could have pushed L’Oréal to halt production. First is competition by a number of players in the tools category, such as Foreo and NuFace, two high-end players, and also by imports and private label versions, on the low-end. An emerging player in the category, Michael Todd Beauty, is reportedly gaining traction with high-quality tools that come with extensive testing and value pricing. One expert said the Michael Todd Beauty version has a full sonic brush head and a patented anti-microbial treatment to avoid mold and mildew that distinguishes it in the marketplace.
L’Oreal said it had no further comment than what was posted on social media.
Clarisonic has been losing steam over the past three years, one retailer said. “You purchase one device and there’s no need to purchase another. The only repurchase are replacement heads. Other brands have branched out into different device forms,” said the source, who asked not to be named said. Clarisonic did experiment with men’s products and ancillary items with mixed results. Also, the Mia Smart device with blue-tooth pairing device didn’t generate the expected buzz, sources said.