Archives for June 2012

Over the Top – CVS’s Maybelline Lipstick Price

At first I thought the $9.99 price for Maybelline Colorsensational Lipstick at CVS was a mistake. I hadn’t bought that lipstick in a coon’s age or two, so I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the price take a bit of a jump, but not THAT high of a jump. When I found out the cost was indeed correct, it added to my growing sense that CVS’s prices have steadily been rising a lot more steeply than other discount stores.

Sure enough, a few days later I hit my local Rite Aid and the price for that exact same Maybelline Colorsensational Lipstick was $7.19. That’s 39% cheaper. Which meant CVS was making $2.80 above and BEYOND a normal mark-up. And they were making that off ME. And I would be losing $2.80, the price of a nice juicy melon or box of berries, every time I would be dumb enough to pay that higher price for a tube of lip color.

The story doesn’t end there. When I double-checked the oline lipstick prices at CVS, the price listed for that Maybelline lipstick suddenly turned out to be $8.79 – over a dollar cheaper than their in-store price.  It’s true some stores charge lower prices online than in-store but I couldn’t help wondering if that cheaper CVS online figure wasn’t conjured up more for the benefit of the Maybelline folks,who might not be exactly delighted with the exorbitant markup CVS was actually pulling in for their product.

It’s interesting though, that Rite Aid’s price for that Maybelline lipstick both online and in-store was the same $7.19. Which I think is always less confusing for customers.

If you’re wondering how CVS can get away with charging 39% more for a product than Rite Aid and why customers simply don’t desert them for the cheaper store, the answer may lie with their real estate. CVS stores are everywhere in New York and their locations are always prime spots near subway stops. The two nearest me are only blocks away, both on Lexington in the eighties, giving them a wide radius of buyers in every direction. Whereas the nearest Rite Aid is a bit of a hike much farther east. It’s a more out of the way location and  too much of a hike for customers pressed for time or unwilling to traipse those extra blocks.

Needless to say, it’s now my lipstick refill stop and, pending further research in price differential, my discount store for who knows how many more items.