Small Business Heroes

David vs Goliath: Is it possible to slay the cosmetics giants?

29 Nov 2013

How does a new small business take on a market leader? Can a new online retailer reach the dizzy heights of ASOS or can a small chain of grocery stores change the shape of food shopping in the shadow of Tesco or Sainsbury’s? The answer, sometimes at least, is yes.

A giant’s advantages can also be its weaknesses

Size can be a hindrance; in Goliath’s famous punch up with David, his strength wasn’t much use at all when the diminutive David changed the rules of the fight.

In the same way, large corporations can be slow to react to change and run the very real risk of failing to notice innovation right under their nose.


When beauty therapist Marissa Carter developed a new fake tan during maternity leave from work, it probably seemed unlikely that it would compete with St Tropez, Loreal and Garnier products but after only a short while her product Cocoa Brown is being stocked in Boots, Superdrug and even Primark (a store that doesn’t traditionally carry cosmetics). It is so good that in fact 3 bottles are purchased every minute in Ireland where the founder hails from.

Marissa, our “David”, knew what the Goliaths were doing and knew that they lacked a product that that didn’t break the bank which was also suitable for troublesome skin too.

She says, "My inspiration for the Cocoa Brown range came as a response to the lifestyle needs of my beauty customers, my own love of looking naturally bronzed and my passion for exciting beauty product innovations.  My product has been incredibly successful in Ireland and I’m aiming for the same success and more in the UK. The Cocoa Brown team believe our products are something special - it is a high quality, quick, affordable tan and we believe it is better than anything else on the tanning market today." 

Marissa’s innovative product sets itself apart by eliminating the unwanted signature scent that is infamous amongst self tanning products and, what’s more, once applied it develops in just one hour in comparison to the 8 hours it takes other tanning lotions.

Armed with her wonder product Marissa started to approach prominent fashion and beauty bloggers and journalists to test the product. Rave reviews starting rolling in and she was then able to take her product and testimonies to larger stores who quickly snapped up the brand.

Keir Wright-Whyte


Managing Director

0207 043 4000

About the author

Originally graduating with a degree in geography from Edinburgh University, Keir claims that he was then tricked into becoming an accountant by one of the UK's top 5 accountancy practices.The deception extended to the usual training in audit and associated activities.

Keir subsequently worked in a number of advisory roles with clients including in the energy trading, pharmaceuticals and financial services sectors.

He loves working at Accounts & Legal because of the variety of work and clients, the excellent team ethos and morale, the importance placed on genuinely helping and being useful for clients and because he believes what he does matters to clients and helps the firm.

Keir's primary role is to ensure that new clients with complex businesses or needs are on-boarded in the best way and he is a "trouble shooter" both for clients and where complex issues arise internally. He also helps the accounting teams strive to improve what we do for clients, whether processes or services.

When not debiting or crediting, Keir has a penchant for fixing old buildings, skiing, surfing and cycling.


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