Do Brands Lie By Not Fully Telling the Truth?


Burt’s Bees is now a Clorox company. And Tom’s of Maine is owned by Colgate.

But you won’t find that information on their product packaging. That’s because many consumers embrace “alternative” brands, in part, because they are not owned by global conglomerates.

That’s why I was disappointed last week when I placed an order with Kiehl’s—the low-key, white-smocked personal care products company—and it arrived in a box marked with a L’Oréal return address.

With a few keystrokes in Google, I discovered that Kiehl’s has been owned by the cosmetics giant since 2000. (Although you won’t find that anywhere on the Kiehl’s website no matter how hard you look.)

Irrationally, that’s changed the way I feel about Kiehl’s, even though I’ve been buying several of its products for years.

I’m not naïve: Small brands get gobbled up by big companies every day. But I think that Kiehl’s management should be more open and transparent about its ownership—especially when “truth, justice and fairness” are among the core tenets of its mission.