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P&G Halts Reflect.com

On June 3, Procter & Gamble's customized beauty Web site Reflect.com began informing registered customers that it will close for business June 13.

“As a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, the company has decided it is not currently in its long term strategic goals to continue the Reflect business and brand,” was the reason given in an e-mail sent to customers. June 13 is the last day the site will accept orders, and all products will ship by June 17. The company also will close its Reflect stores in San Francisco and Chicago.

P&G did not comment on the news.

Reflect was started with much fanfare by P&G in 1999 during the dot-com boom as a joint venture with Institutional Venture Partners. At that time, women could create their own beauty products from 50,000 product and packaging combinations in hair care, skin care, cosmetics and fragrances. Since then, more products have been added including color palettes and cellulite cream.

Giddy over the prospect of a new distribution channel, numerous ventures launched beauty Web sites during that era, including BeautyJungle.com, Eve.com, Beauty.com and Gloss.com. Of those, only Beauty.com and Gloss.com survive today.

To avoid conflict with retailers, all products were priced above mass merchandise, and existing P&G brands were not sold.

Reflect was an early promoter of the Internet as a vehicle for customization. Since its launch, this concept has broadened in reach to include various consumer goods from major brands such as Lands' End, M&Ms and Nike.

Over the years, one complaint lodged against Reflect.com was how long the questionnaires were that had to be answered to customize a fragrance, lipstick or other item. However, the information P&G accumulated in this manner could prove priceless.

According to the e-mail last week to Reflect's customers, the brand's “presence online and in the retail world has provided P&G with invaluable information and insight on custom beauty. In the not so distant future, you will see the custom innovations developed at Reflect in some of P&G's other beauty brands. One fine example of this, now available at major national retailers, is Cover Girl's Custom Compacts.”

The news coincides with P&G's ongoing push into prestige cosmetics with the recently announced new Hugo Boss fragrance and its high-priced SK-II brand.

Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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