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Makeup Prices Vary Widely From Store To Store

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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GALLERY: Price Comparison: Same Makeup, 5 Different Stores

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Katie Enright and Michelle Hamann in Maple Grove aren’t concealing anything when they say they prefer Cover Girl and Revlon products.

When it comes to makeup, most women are loyal to certain products, but they may not realize the price for the same item can vary widely from store to store.

University of St. Thomas Marketing professor David Brennan says makeup can be a unique purchase.

“Charles Revson of Revlon said, ‘Why do women buy cosmetics in the first place?’ He said, ‘Hope.’ When you think of cosmetics it’s something that has more of an emotional appeal,” said Brennan. “Cosmetics is different.”

Brennan says stores know about the emotional pull behind makeup, and that’s why pricing can vary greatly.

WCCO went shopping at five popular stores for the same five makeup products and found price differences as great as 50 percent.

We chose five products — L’Oreal mascara, Cover Girl powder and lipstick, and Revlon color stay foundation and concealer — and went to the Maple Grover outlets of five popular stores: Walmart, Walgreens, Target, CVS and Ulta.

The Results

The most expensive store for the five items altogether was CVS, with a total of $46.45.

Ulta came in at $41.25, Walgreens was $40.71, Target was $38.89 and Walmart’s price was $38.26. The difference between the highest and lowest was more than $8 for the same items.

“Eight dollars is a lot. I am very surprised. I would think a couple of dollars maybe, but eight? No,” Enright said.

There was more to look at when WCCO broke down our receipts. We found dramatic price differences from store to store for individual items.

Mascara, one of the most popular of all makeup items, showed a wide range of prices. The L’Oreal mascara was 50 percent higher at CVS than it was at Walmart and Target. The price at Walmart and Target was $5.84. The price at CVS was $8.79.

The Revlon foundation prices were also sharply different. The price at Walmart was $9.98. At Target, it was just a penny more. But at CVS the price was $12.99 — 32 percent higher than Target and Walmart.

Both Hamann and Enright say they will start paying more attention to price from now on.

“It’s surprising it is such a big difference,” said Hamann. “Now that I know, I will stick Target or Walmart.”

The Stores Respond

Target told WCCO you can save even more at its stores by using its Red Card and getting an additional 5 percent off.

Walmart said it has a low-price guarantee and will match a competitor’s advertised price.

Walgreens told WCCO it distinguishes itself by having trained beauty advisers on staff.

CVS director of public relations Erin Pensa said CVS customers who use the ExtraCare Rewards card can earn ExtraBucks Rewards. These can be used to purchase almost anything in the store.

Ulta had not responded to WCCO’s story as of Tuesday afternoon.

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