Merle Norman Cosmetics has built a foundation by offering
samples to customers through its "try before you buy" concept.
Founded by a young woman named Merle Nethercutt
Norman, the company opened its first shop in Santa
Monica, California, in 1931. The company makes and markets
primarily skin care products and color cosmetics that are sold
through some 2,000 independently owned and operated retail outlets
operating under the Merle Norman Cosmetic Studios
name. Reaching from the US to Canada, Mexico, and the
United Arab Emirates, its studios are typically located in
malls. Brand names include Automatic Definitive, Inspirations,
Luxiva, and Only Natural, among others.
While the beauty company's operations are US-centric, the
company extends the reach of its business throughout the nation to
Canada and Mexico and overseas to the United Arab
To control formulation and maintain quality standards, Merle
Norman researches, develops, manufactures, and packages its line of
cosmetics and fragrances in the US. Research and development
activities take place specifically at its headquarters in Los
Angeles. Merle Norman operates warehouse facilities in both Los
Angeles and Memphis.
The beauty company aims to ultimately boast a network of some
2,500 studios. Merle Norman was able to expand in recent
years by opening about 125 stores a year. During the economic
downturn, however, the company's expansion plans slowed. In an
effort to boost its number of studios, Merle Norman is
looking to develop new franchise locations in key markets, such as
Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida,
Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Canada.
Merle Norman is also shifting its focus to growth outside
North America. It has looked to luxury markets, such as
the United Arab Emirates, to extend its reach and cater to its
typical upscale client. To this end, the cosmetics company
opened a studio in Dubai -- representing its first overseas
market -- as well as nearby Sharjah Mega Mall, Mirdiff City
Centre, and a studio in the United Arab Emirates.
The company is still family owned, today by chairman Jack
Nethercutt II, founder Merle Norman's great-nephew.