The grey-market in professional hair care products
What has long been known by those in the professional salon world is still little known in the general public. Diversion is the industry that deals in counterfeit, stolen, or outdated merchandise. Most major professional hair care companies have been battling this issue for years; major brands like Paul Mitchell, Redken, Matrix, Pureology, and Morocconoil. The companies they are battling are everyday names in most of our lives; Target, Wal-Mart, and other large retailers.
When a company states that they only sell their products through professional salons, they do so to maintain the quality of their product and ensure the customer is getting expert advice. When we walk into a major retailer and see these products on the shelves, the retailer did not purchase that product from the manufacturer. They purchased it from a diverter. A diverter approaches a salon owner or manager. The diverter offers to pay the salon 10-30 percent over cost. Often the salon might need some extra money — or the manager might not know he or she is doing anything wrong — and they agree to do business with the diverter.
The salon orders the products. The diverter returns to the shop, pays the agreed price — often as cash under the table — and picks up the unopened boxes. They do this until they have truckload and then they take the products back to their warehouse.
Once in the warehouse, the diverters remove the batch codes on the products. The decoded products are then shipped to discount stores, grocery stores, and drugs stores nationwide.
Since these retailers purchase the product on the open market it is not illegal but consumers should be aware that they are not purchasing legitimate product.
What to look for when you see professional products on retailers’ shelves:
You will pay more. The average price for a bottle of shampoo or conditioner is generally 10% higher than salon retail prices.
Stickers or changes to the product UPC code. UPC codes are printed directly on most major professional hair care product bottles. Since major retailers are not authorized to sell these products, the UPC codes have been changed. This could mean the product is expired, diluted, or completely counterfeit.
Find out more about what manufacturers are doing to prevent diversion and catch diverters: