Throughout MAC Cosmetics history, “All Ages, All Races, All Sexes” has remained their motto and driving goal. This cosmetics brand celebrates individuality and diversity. Their motto isn’t just a matter of words to them but it’s what drives the culture of this cosmetics giant.
However, apart from their motto, the question that arises is ‘what drives this billion-dollar cosmetics brand?’.
How has MAC Cosmetics been able to keep up with their competition and become one of the leading brands in the industry?
These questions are what we’ll be answering in this case study. We’ll explore MAC Cosmetics’ history and their marketing strategies to gain insight into their success.
MAC Cosmetics History
To truly understand this cosmetics giant, it is essential to start at the beginning. This cosmetics brand began with two Franks back in the late 1900s Frank Toskan and Frank Angelo. A photographer/makeup artist and a salon owner were really frustrated at the available cosmetics products in the market at the time. They didn’t like how this scarcity was affecting their business. Frank Toskan, a Canadian photographer, wanted a makeup product that didn’t just look good but also photographed well. Taking his concern to his friend, they started brainstorming. This was how MAC Cosmetics was born.
The name MAC is short for Makeup Art Cosmetics. The founders established this brand in order to develop a makeup line that met their professional needs. Another aspect that occurred to them was that they felt the makeup industry excluded the LGBTQA+ community. Since they were a part of the community themselves, they wanted products that were inclusive to all demographics and fun for all artists. This idea is how Frank Toskan and Frank Angelo created the first MAC product, which had spirit and creativity as the driving force.
The Birth of Kitchen Cosmetics
The two Franks got together and started crafting pigmented lipstick shades. A pink Crayola crayon inspired this idea, and they started right in their kitchen. The idea behind creating these makeup products was to create products that Toskan would use on the models he worked with. However, word quickly spread, and soon, they were creating a line of brightly colored lipsticks.
Frank Toskan and Frank Angelo started selling their products at Angelo’s salon to mostly their friends and family. They also got sales through word-of-mouth referrals when they decided to open their store. MAC Cosmetics history shows that in 1984, MAC Cosmetics officially entered the beauty market. They started from a Toronto department store counter with the tagline ‘All Races, All Ages, All Sexes.’
Since they were far ahead of the rest of the world in inclusivity, these two founders made enormous strides for the LGBTQA+ community. Most people were inspired by their message, which piqued people’s interest, increasing the commercial success of the company. Their efforts helped the community blossom into today’s proud and fantastic community.
Madonna’s Effect on MAC Growth
MAC Cosmetics history wouldn’t be complete without the mention of Madonna. The brand enjoyed its first huge success when Madonna wore one of its signature lipsticks in a modeling ad back in the late 80s. She fell in love with the brand, and together, they created a signature lipstick for her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990. The founders created a shade called Russian Red for Madonna, which helped them gain massive brand recognition. Their newfound popularity led to high demand for this crucial lipstick color. MAC Cosmetics opened its first American store in New York City a year later. Many would argue that the location and timing of this launch contributed to their success and brand recognition.
The store is located on Gay Street in New York, it was launched during the AIDS epidemic, and the store soon became a hub for individuals and artists. It was clear that people from all walks of life were welcome at MAC. Their outwardly accepting nature drew most people to the brand. Creative artists, bold personalities, and drag queens were intrigued by the brand’s freshness in the beauty industry.
MAC Cosmetics History – Approaching the Cosmetics in a Unique Way
Because of the brand’s nature, the founders knew that their packaging had to be as unique as the products themselves. Although they started out selling MAC products in black containers rather than the standard compacts, it was clear that their products were different from others in the industry. Beneath their chic packaging, you would find quite bold and beautiful products. The stage makeup in those days could not compete.
To society, it was clear that MAC Cosmetics was not your usual beauty brand. They didn’t claim to provide natural aesthetics nor start as a skincare brand. The brand became the color authority of the beauty industry back in the 1990s, and it continued to grow in this direction. This beauty trend catapulted makeup from simply being an art form for the creatively employed to an art form anyone who felt compelled to could indulge in.
MAC Cosmetics provided several statement options that resonated with top figures in pop culture. Their products also impressed industry professionals and daily customers who were searching for something different. The brand kept creating more color options and products and led an unseen culture in the beauty industry. This was what MAC Cosmetics offered and continued to deliver.
MAC Cosmetics – A Social and Environmentally Conscious Brand
MAC Cosmetics history shows that the brand’s recognition grew due to celebrity endorsements over the years. Their philanthropic initiatives like creating the Viva Glam lipstick to raise awareness and funds to fight the raging AIDS pandemic also helped to heighten the brand’s awareness. This new recognition only played a part in the brand’s success as they continued to expand due to their commitment to high-quality products. To back up their loud presence in the beauty industry, they had to keep providing high-end and unique products to their customers.
MAC Cosmetics never faltered in its goal to provide high-quality products for true beauty artists. Over the decades, the brand has stayed agile and predictive of upcoming trends while still adapting to the new era of retail. Impressively, MAC also showed adaptability in its many initiatives to be an ethically sound brand. Although the brand stays committed to inclusivity and diversity, they have also demonstrated their ability to address socio-cultural concerns.
MAC Cosmetics History and Industry Trends
Testing animals in the cosmetics industry started raising concerns in the early 2000s. Many organizations advocated for animal rights and claimed that cruelty was prevalent in beauty product production. Although MAC Cosmetics had factories and distribution centers in countries where animal testing was legal, the cosmetics company stayed committed to never testing animals. Additionally, the brand never made requests for animal testing from a third party.
Also, when industry trends shifted towards the planet and towards the facilitation of clean beauty in the early 2020s, MAC was at the forefront, making efforts to remain relevant and thoughtful in the beauty industry. The company made product transparency a part of its mission. Additionally, it aimed to provide only health-conscious beauty products. They ensured widespread and harmful chemicals were absent in their ingredients and only stuck to pure and clean ingredients in their products. The brand also considered the environmental impact of production when selecting the ingredients used in their products.
In addition to these ethical practices in their production process, MAC Cosmetics also made eco-conscious practices available to customers. The company has shown a genuine interest in environmental health throughout MAC Cosmetics history, and their customers recognize this. To limit the number of MAC plastic that evades recycling, MAC Cosmetics has a program that allows consumers to return up to six containers and get a free lipstick in return. This ‘Give Back’ initiative allows brands to gain goodwill while helping the planet. The company continues to search for sustainable products for its packaging.
Creativity is Key
Although the company is socially conscious, environmentally conscious, and famous for their philanthropic actions, they owe a lot of their success to its creations and innovations. Throughout MAC Cosmetics history, the brand has developed its product line and now offers more than 7000 products and over 100 eyeshadow shades to consumers. Each product offered by MAC has a unique flair and a specific purpose.
Beginning with their lipsticks, MAC created complex and stand-out collections with little competition in the early 2000s. At a point in the MAC Cosmetics history, the brand expanded into eyeshadow pallets and foundation shades that covered varying skin tones. This collection was limited but contributed to the brand’s growth. However, the brand has not slowed down in its innovative product creations over the years.
Although themed makeup releases are now widespread, MAC began providing imaginative makeup collections. Each year, the brand had 52 launch collections, and this kept the MAC design team busy as they worked round the clock to produce creative, artistic, and original collections. Their limited-edition makeup collection is released through collaborator campaigns and partnerships with top brands like Disney. MAC’s fun and unique collections include the Cruella and Aladdin collections. These collections were able to gain considerable attention from nostalgic Millenials.
MAC Cosmetics History – Dedication to a Customer-Aligned Strategy
Throughout MAC Cosmetics history, the brand has provided customers with what they want. It is a brand focused on its customers, which has contributed to the making of this beauty giant.
Initially, MAC owed its success to word of mouth and celebrity endorsements from affluent people. However, over the years, they shifted their focus to target marketing. This brand took on a segmentation strategy and launched products to specific groups of people. By segmenting their products into physiographic, demographic, and geographic categories, the brand better understands their customers’ needs. This approach to understanding their target market has helped them develop the appropriate product for each group.
With social media fast becoming the top influencer tool today, MAC began utilizing the social media strategy. The brand was far ahead of competitors in MAC Cosmetics history because they already used social media to provide more value to their customers. MAC Cosmetics understood that most of their clients were artists, educators, and people who were passionate about makeup. Therefore, they started providing tutorials; creative and educational content that their audience found engaging. The brand also created the Lover Loyalty Program that rewarded customers for continued brand purchase. This program provided tiers of rewards for different levels and added benefits to the money customers spent on the brand.
Throughout MAC Cosmetics history, the brand has experienced great success. It continues to stay current and relevant by evolving and developing appropriate positioning in its customer relationship and core values. Additionally, MAC has consistently delivered on the brand promise of All Ages, All Races, All Sexes over the years.
This beauty giant owes its success to its ability to study the beauty industry’s growth process and take advantage of trends to attain recognition and continued patronage. Will MAC Cosmetics continue to be the color authority of the cosmetics industry? With this creative, sustainable, and health-conscious approach to customers, it is very likely.