"Revlon Inc. is preparing to file for chapter 11 protection as soon as next week after struggling for years with too much debt, stiff competition in the cosmetics business and more recent inflation and supply-chain pressures..." (Source: The Wall Street Journal)
I'm not a Revlon consumer myself, but as a marketer, it's impossible for me not to know the brand: not only have Revlon products been ubiquitous in grocery, drug, and mass stores throughout North America for decades, but they've also been a major advertiser for just as long. (The roster of celebrities who have been brand ambassadors over the years is nothing short of incredible. Have a look.)
Which makes their pending bankruptcy somewhat surprising.
Of course, bankruptcy these days doesn't mean the company is finished: bankruptcy is taught to MBA students as a tool to be used when a debt restructuring is required. (And if you read the WSJ story linked below, it seems this is certainly the case with Revlon.)
But reading this article made me think of a conversation I had last week about industry giants.
During our discussion, a friend said that companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, and Meta seem to be virtually unstoppable these days.
My reply: "At one point, GE and IBM seemed unstoppable too."*
Businesses need to evolve alongside their consumers if they want to remain relevant.
I admittedly don't know much about makeup. What I do know is that when my wife buys makeup, she's not buying Revlon products. She's buying from SEPHORA, and considering products from small upstarts who prefer niche consumers targets to mass appeal.
Is Revlon still relevant to consumers today?
To a segment of consumers, sure! But is it enough?
Any company's failure to reinvent itself and remain relevant to its consumers will be its downfall.
Because as any student of business history can tell you...
... your success today does not guarantee your success tomorrow.
Just ask Revlon.
* To the credit of IBM and Lou Gerstner, they DID evolve, and their move from hardware to consulting services and AI is almost certainly the reason they're still around -- and thriving -- today. If you want to learn more about that story, "Who Says Elephants Can't Dance: Leading a Great Enterprise Through Dramatic Change", written by Gerstner himself, is a classic business read.