Okay, so here’s the deal. I love Julep. I’ve been collecting Juleps for about a year and a half, and greatly enjoy many of their products. While there have been a few minor issues, overall, I think the products themselves are very high quality, and have no complaints in that regard. However, I’ve had some frustrations lately, and have some concerns about where they’re headed. Of course, as a consumer, I can always stop buying their products. But hopefully, my concerns are overblown, and Julep will continue to listen to Maven feedback and shift away from some of the more disagreeable changes.
I’m writing this post because I think it’s important to get my thoughts out there, and give my feedback. This isn’t a whiny, woe is me post. It’s not a customer service complaint. It’s just my thoughts on the brand and their recent marketing.
One big change that happened in 2015 was the renaming of many products. I have found that many of the new names are too long or don’t indicate what the product actually is. Perhaps the oddest renaming was of the Orbital Eyeshadow, to Dial Up Your Glam. Orbital Eyeshadow was simple, made it clear what the product was, and fit the theme, as all of the names are astronomy-inspired, like Luna, Eclipse, and Moonbeam. This renaming was definitely the strangest. Some other renamed products include the Gel Eye Gliders, now When Pencil Met Gel (I still call them Eye Gliders); Plush Pouts, now It’s Balm; and Luxe Lips, now Luxe Up Your Lips.
Some of the new product names have also seemed to focus on being trendy or catchy (I assume that’s the idea), but also resulted in long or awkward names. There’s It’s Whipped (matte lip “mousse”), Don’t Leave Your Brows at Home (brow powder), Your Cuticles Look Thirsty (cuticle cream), What Your Skin Needs (body milk), and that product recently teased in the new live with Jane, Your Lip Addiction (a tinted lip oil). In a sense, many of these renamed and new names feel juvenile to me (and this is coming from someone in her mid-20s). Given the price point and quality of the products, I feel like these names are targeting a much younger audience, and take away from the higher-tier feeling of the brand.
Another thing people have pointed out is that some of these product names seem like commands, which doesn’t really seem to fit with the way Julep promotes beauty. With Julep’s Brave Pretty and Beauty is About Connection, Not Competition philosophies, they really encourage beauty that’s not specific to any one standard, and going out of your comfort zone to try new things. It’s a very positive, inclusive way of looking at beauty, that lets you decide what beauty is to you, rather than having it dictated to you. It just doesn’t fit that the products should tell you what to do and what you need.
In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter what the product is called, as long as it works well? Probably not. But it does make them awkward to talk about, and takes away from the overall feeling the product gives you.
The other trend that’s been emerging is Julep partnering with other retailers, largely QVC and Ulta, to release exclusive items. While it’s great to see the items available in brick and mortar stores, and reach more customers, I do feel that if Julep makes it, it should be available on their site.
QVC items are often sold in sets that require you to buy a number of items you may not want or need in order to get the one, QVC exclusive item. This has happened with the Oxygen Nail Treatment in Pearl, and with the shade Twiggy. I would love to have more Nail Treatment in Pearl, but it’s not worth it to me to buy the set again. With Twiggy, Julep confirmed that it was a QVC exclusive, so I bought the set, only for Twiggy to show up on the Julep site for $5 a few months later. Recently, it appears that they’ve released a new set with QVC, with a new Shawn, in gold (although there is already a Shawn in a poppy shade from the January 2015 Collection). Once again, in order to get the color, you have to buy a larger set of other items.
For now, Ulta has only introduced items that are also available from Julep. However, they have advertised that they will be getting an exclusive nail shade, in Ultamate Fuchsia, in July. Jane has also indicated during some of the Live with Jane videos that this will be a more frequent occurrence, with new colors of products only being available from these retailers.
If Julep guarantees that items will be available on their site, I don’t mind if they’re also on other sites or even if they debut with other sellers first. For example, QVC had the new konjac sponges before the main site, but they have now been released to Mavens in the April Collection. It does defeat the point of Maven first access, but bothers me less. However, as some others have pointed out online, the collections are normally exclusive to Mavens first, and it really does feel like it goes against the feeling of the Maven program. As one commenter put it, quite well, I felt, “I think nothing should be exclusive from Mavens. Make it so that Mavens can buy it directly from Julep – it is still exclusive in the sense that it is not available to the general public through Julep. I think this goes against the community feel they have built with Mavens” (quote used with permission). I couldn’t have put it better myself.
I really don’t like the idea of exclusive products, and feel that it does exclude Mavens. When you can only get it from another retailer, you (1) might miss an item altogether because there’s no way to keep track of everything; (2) you cannot use coupon codes (Julep usually has at least 3 active at any given time); and (3) you don’t have the benefit of Maven pricing, which is one of the touted benefits of being a Maven.
Thus far, I’m still going to keep purchasing Julep. I still love the products and look forward to seeing what they’re going to do each month. But these new changes are disappointing to me, and to be honest, I’m nervous about where they’re going. My hope is that these are just growing pains, as Julep expands to be a bigger brand with a wider reach. I don’t want to fall out of love with a brand I’ve come to enjoy and respect so much. I’ll be curious to see what happens in the next several months, and hoping for the best.