Among all the cosmetics brands in the United States, Revlon is one of a kind.
Founded in the 1930s, Revlon started as an innovative and creative brand that took the beauty market by storm. More, it even became a household name with its memorable and inclusive marketing campaigns.
Alas, in June 2022, Revlon announced that it filed for bankruptcy after almost 90 years of existence. What happened to Revlon and why did the brand experience such a blow? Today, this article analyzes the causes of the rise and fall of Revlon.
The birth an American cosmetics titan
In 1932, brothers Charles and Joseph Revson teamed up with the chemist Charles Lachman and launched the company Revlon. The name of their new company was a moniker made of the name of the brothers with the “L’ of the chemist’s name in the middle of the brothers’ name.
The very first product of the company was an innovative one. Indeed, they launched a new style of nail polish which contained pigments instead of dyes.
Once they launched their product, it became an instant success and a massive hit. Soon, they developed several shades of nail polish and sold them in department stores. By the end of 1937, Revlon became a multi-million company, despite the financial turmoils of the Great Depression.
In the 1940s, Revlon’s founders decided to expand the brand. Consequently, they launched their first lipstick collection which was a massive hit. Do you remember the trend of matching lips and fingernails? Well, Revlon launched that trend in the mainstream market with its Lips and Fingertips marketing campaign. This helped Revlon to capitalize on the success of its nail polish.
Also, Revlon had an entire manicure line which helped it to become the second cosmetics brand in the United States, just behind Besame Cosmetics.
Starting in the 1950s, the brand started selling their products internationally. Revlon’s main foreign markets were Japan, France, Argentina, Italy, and Mexico.
Expansion, celebrities, and good marketing: the trinity behind Revlon’s success
Over the years, Revlon continued to grow and acquired many companies in the beauty industry and beyond. Indeed, it ventured into other products, such as:
- shampoos and conditioners
- optical equipment and supplies
- contact solution manufacturing
Those acquisitions and new launches helped Revlon to strengthen its position as a leader in the US beauty market. For instance, when Revlon launched the fragrance Charlie in 1973, it became another massive hit worldwide. Indeed, Revlon’s sales increased by nearly 20%, from $506 million to $606 million the next year.
Another expansion strategy of Revlon involved massive marketing campaigns relying on celebrities’ endorsements. Indeed, celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn publicly endorsed the brand. This gave the opportunity to Revlon to rely on celebrities spokespersons throughout the years.
The celebrities Revlon chose always had something in common. As a matter of fact, they would always represent the ideal American girl next door. In my opinion, their best celebrity spokesperson was Cindy Crawford in the 1980s and the 1990s. She was so beautiful in those advertising campaigns!
Besides Cindy Crawford, Revlon had many celebrities as spokespeople, such as:
- Lauren Hutton
- Kate Bosworth
- Claudia Schiffer
- Melanie Griffith
- Julianne Moore
- Jennifer Connelly
- Emma Stone
An inclusive brand
Also, Revlon was innovative in its approach to inclusivity. Indeed, it was the first drugstore beauty brand to create an entire makeup line dedicated to women of color. Even more, Revlon made history when the brand hired its first black spokesperson to promote their products in the 1970s.
Her name was Naomi Sims and she was one of the first Black supermodels at that period. Soon, other women of color followed, such as Iman, Eva Mendes, and Halle Berry.
Revlon became such a staple beauty brand that it even helped preparing models for the runway. For many years, Revlon has been one of the brands chosen exclusively for the New York Fashion Week.
In the 1980s, Pantry Pride, a subsidiary of MacAndrews and Forbes, bought Revlon Cosmetics for $58 per share. Then, the brand entered the stock market in 1996 and continued to be successful until the 2000s.
Revlon was behind many charitable endeavors. For instance, the company organized an annual EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women to raise awareness on breast and ovarian cancer. Many celebrities participated to this event, such as Halle Berry and Oprah Winfrey.
Revlon also organized many charitable galas and concerts, such as the Revlon Concert for the Rainforest Fund in 2012.
Throughout its massive success, Revlon also shared its fair share of scandals. For instance, in 1989, the brand announced that it would stop testing their products on animals. Unfortunately, in 2011, PETA uncovered that this was remotely true.
Instead, the company paid Chinese laboratories to test its cosmetics on animals. Did they really believe that they wouldn’t be responsible if they just shifted this in another country?
In my opinion, the worst is still to come. Indeed, since 2021, Revlon’s healthcare division has been accused of importing HIV-infected blood products in the UK. The case is currently ongoing in Canada.
The beginning of the end
In the 1990s, Revlon already faced harsh competition from brands such as CoverGirl and Ester Lauder. But this was still within the frame of the traditional beauty industry. So, Revlon fought back.
The beauty brand attempted to improve its sales by buying Elizabeth Arden and nail care brand Cutex in 2016. Sadly, it wasn’t enough.
Indeed, Revlon’s sales plummeted by 20% between 2020 and 2021. And the beauty brand didn’t recover from the effects of the pandemic. Several factors can explain the downfall of Revlon.
Factor #1: Celebrities’ brands
Revlon couldn’t keep up with the disruptions created by celebrities’ brands in the beauty industry. Indeed, brands such as Kylie Cosmetics, Glossier, Hula Beauty, or Fenty Beauty took over the market through their massive social media following. Also, they created product ranges that were more inclusive and innovative.
On the other hand, Revlon didn’t leverage the power of social media to increase sales at the beginning. But the brand finally invested in e-commerce and its sales increased by 20% at that stage. Also, Revlon launched new products blending skincare and makeup. But this wasn’t enough.
Factor #2: Supply chain issues
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Revlon faced supply chain shortages like many other beauty companies. Indeed, the price of raw materials skyrocketed and Revlon had a hard time managing these issues. Also, the Russia-Ukraine war contributed to the rise of prices, and it is still current.
Factor #3: Failure to innovate
Once an innovative cosmetic brand, Revlon became merely content to rest on its laurels. Indeed, Revlon had always sticked to its traditional colors, including shocking red. For a very long time, the beauty brand relied on the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” philosophy. And though it worked at the beginning, it finally hit hard on Revlon.
Factor #4: Massive debt
Currently, Revlon is facing a massive $3.2 billion debt, while having assets estimated between $1 and $10 billion. The purchase of Elizabeth Arden and Cutex amplified Revlon’s debt as well.
Also, after the pandemic, creditors were less understanding toward Revlon. Therefore, Revlon filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company is currently restructuring its debt.
Summary: what happened to Revlon?
At its inception in the 1930s, people hailed Revlon as an innovative beauty brand. The brand managed to thrive during several decades thanks to its striking marketing campaigns and innovative initiatives. Unfortunately, Revlon struggled to address several issues, which ultimately led to its downfall. Hopefully, the beauty brand will solve these issues and rise again like a phenix!
That’s all for today! What do you think of Revlon’s rise and fall? What is your favorite Revlon’s product? Share your opinion in the comments!
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This news comes as a shock to me because I really like Revlon. From hair color to makeup to nail polish … Revlon is one of the best brands we have (or should I say, “had?”). Who would have thought that a giant beauty company like Revlon would one day shut down? What company would go bankrupt after 90 years?
For a couple of months, I wondered why I began to see fewer and fewer Revlon products in the market. Thanks for the information.
Do you think there’s a chance for Revlon to bounce back?
Yes there’s a chance for Revlon to bounce back. Never say never!
Wow, this article takes us on a journey through the rise and fall of the iconic cosmetics brand, Revlon. From its innovative beginnings to its celebrity endorsements and inclusive approach, Revlon was a true leader in the beauty industry. It’s amazing to see the impact it had on the market and how it paved the way for inclusivity in the beauty industry.
Questions: Do you personally think Revlon will bounce back? What companies have flourished in place of Revlons fall?
Yes I believe that Revlon might bounce back but a huge overhaul on the brand must take place. Many celebrities’ brand have taken Revlon’s place, including Kylie Cosmetics and Fenty Beauty.
Revlon is a cosmetics giant that has been around since the 1930s when it was founded by Charles Revson, who named the company after himself and his brother. Over the years, the company has grown to become one of the most recognizable brands in the beauty industry. However, in recent years, Revlon has faced a variety of challenges, ranging from financial difficulties to difficulties in adapting to changing trends and consumer preferences.
The article on Beauty by Elodie does a great job outlining Revlon’s rise and fall over the years. It discusses how Revlon began as a small family business and grew to become a major player in the beauty industry, and how the company has faced several challenges in recent years. It also looks at how Revlon has responded to these challenges and how they have tried to stay relevant in a rapidly changing market. This article is a great resource for anyone interested in learning more about the history of Revlon and the current state of the company.
Goodness, this article takes us on an excursion through the ascent and fall of the notable beauty care products brand, Revlon. From its creative starting points to its superstar supports and comprehensive methodology, Revlon was a genuine forerunner in the excellence business. This is so shocking, I had no idea about this. However, it makes sense because there are less marketing favoring the brand.
Hey there! I stumbled upon this interesting post about Revlon, the cosmetics giant. It’s fascinating to see the rise and fall of a brand that has been around for so long and has made such a big impact on the beauty industry.
First off, I have to ask, what led to Revlon’s decline? Was it competition from other cosmetic brands, or perhaps some internal issues? It seems like a shame to see a brand with such a long history fall from grace.
I, personally, remember growing up with Revlon products in my household. My mum always used their lipsticks and nail polishes, and I remember thinking how fancy and grown-up it was to wear Revlon products. But it seems like over the years, Revlon has lost its spark and isn’t as prominent as it once was.
It’s always interesting to see the evolution of a brand, and it seems like Revlon has gone through its ups and downs. I do hope that they can turn things around and make a comeback in the beauty industry. The cosmetics market is incredibly competitive, and it takes a lot to stand out and make a lasting impact.
In my opinion, I think that Revlon needs to re-invent itself and find a way to appeal to a new generation of consumers. Maybe they need to change up their product line and focus on using more natural ingredients, or perhaps they need to tap into new markets. Whatever it is, I believe that Revlon has the potential to make a comeback and once again become a leading player in the beauty industry.
All in all, it’s always intriguing to see the rise and fall of a brand, and I’m curious to see what the future holds for Revlon.
Hello Bob, thanks for your comment! Revlon’s downfall is caused by a combination of factors: massive competition of celebrities’ brands, failure to keep up with the trends, and massive debt.
I had absolutely no idea that Revlon filed bankruptcy after 90 years! Truly the end of an era indeed. When I think of Revlon I think of their famous red lipstick and red nails to match! I really enjoyed the timeline of learning how this company began, what it achieved and what ultimately led to its untimely downfall. I hope in the future, through restructuring the company that Revlon will make a come back! Cindy Crawford was one of my favorite celebrity endorsements as well as Emma Stone and Halle Berry!
thanks for sharing Jenny!
Until I saw this article I didn’t even think about how I haven’t heard “Revlon” in quite some time! Come to think of it, now it makes sense that I haven’t seen or heard an advertisement from them since 2016. It’s surprising that such a big brand couldn’t keep up with the celebrity brands, even though Revlon using their products on animals didn’t help their situation. Thank you for the article. really opened my eyes
And thank you for your comment! Really appreciated…
A century ago, Samuel Revson changed the world of cosmetics forever when he introduced the world to “revlon.” Available at all major retailers and boasting an award-winning ad campaign starring pop icon Destiny McKine, revlon was the go-to product for everyone looking to cover up imperfections and change their appearance.