The Colors of Spring

November 8, 2005

Big gains aren’t reserved for internet stocks—many color cosmetics brands have posted strong results for several years. The success of brands such as L’Oréal, Clinique, Lancôme and others, has encouraged new players to enter the color cosmetics market. Upstarts such as Tony ‘n Tina, Solar FX and Urban Decay are at the forefront of this color cosmetics craze. More recently, skin care brands such as Neutrogena and Oil of Olay have weighed in with collections of their own.

The wave of new entries hasn’t ebbed by any means. This spring, for instance, Calvin Klein will add the final element of his cosmetics empire with the introduction of a 180-SKU color cosmetics line. But Calvin isn’t the last designer with designs on the market; Ralph Lauren and Armani are said to be working on color cosmetics collections of their own.

A quick look at the data reveals why marketers and designers are eager to enter the color cosmetics market. According to Inform- ation Resources, Inc., sales of these products in drug stores, mass merchandisers and food stores rose 7.5% to more than $3.1 billion for the year ended Nov. 21, 1999. Revlon remains the No. 1 brand in mass, but its dollar sales slipped 2.7% during the period. In contrast, Bonne Bell’s sales surged more than 46% and newcomer Oil of Olay is already the No. 8 brand in the U.S.

Color cosmetics sales have not been quite as robust in department stores. According to NPD BeautyTrends, prestige sales rose 4% for the first half of 1999. Clinique is still the top selling brand in the prestige category, but the Estée Lauder brand faces a wave of competition from well-known designer brands eager to grab a share of the color cosmetics segment.


Count Calvin In
In March, Calvin Klein Cosmetics will introduce the Calvin Klein Color Collection, a 180-item line that includes lip, eye, cheek and face color, as well as seven skin care items and accessories such as brushes and sharpeners. The initial launch is limited to 50 specialty stores (Nordstroms and Saks Fifth Avenue) in the U.S. and just 100 doors worldwide. Nicholas Lon- gano, vice president, color cosmetics, Calvin Klein, noted that the limited launch will ensure the line gets off on the right track.

“We have great name recognition, but we’re primarily a fragrance house and we want to make sure all the elements in place are tried and tested,” noted Mr. Longano. “There are a lot of elements to get right for a global cosmetic launch. Plus, we want the brand to establish itself by creating a buzz.”

The line is targeted to women ages 25-49, but Mr. Longano insisted Color Collection will appeal to teens, 50-year-olds and women of all skin tones. Most importantly, fashion will play a key role in determining seasonal shades. Color Collection will take its cue from what’s happening on the runway.

“We won’t interpret colors, we’ll duplicate them,” insisted Mr. Longano. “Calvin personally went through all the shades and picked the best browns, the best reds. It’s all very wearable.

“This is the last element for Calvin,” added Mr. Longano. “Now he can say he dresses a woman from head to toe.”

Texture plays a key role in the new collection. In developing the long-lasting lipstick formula, the company was able to develop a lipstick that moisturizes and feels creamy. “It’s lightweight, just like Calvin’s approach to clothing,” said Mr. Longano. “The line never overtakes the face so people see the natural beauty of the woman and not the makeup that she’s wearing.”

That translucent, natural effect is most evident in the lip color wash, eye color wash and cheek color wash. Each looks different on every skin tone, a trait that opens up a new spectrum of color for women. “Now women can try gold, jade and deeper shades of purple that they couldn’t wear in the past,” according to Mr. Longano.


Leveraging Fragrance
To promote the brand, the company intends to leverage its No. 1 position in the fragrance segment with heavy cross-sampling. The retail environment is centered around the idea of “see, try, buy” so a woman can test every shade if she’s so inclined. Calvin Klein counters will be based on an open-sell format, but advisors will be on hand to offer assistance if needed.

“We respect the needs of the customer. Women are staying away from stores because they get intimidated by many beauty advisors,” noted Mr. Longano.

He refused to predict just how strong first year sales will be, but industry sources estimate the collection’s sales could top $20 million (wholesale). “We won’t deem our success by volume or share,” insisted Mr. Longano. “Our success will be based on how well we build the business. Starting with 50 doors, we can work slowly and ultimately take everything we learn from Saks and Nordstroms and apply it to new doors.”

Calvin Klein will face heavy competition from leading brands such as Clinique, Lancôme and other well known brands that will soon roll out their spring color cosmetics collections. Guerlain’s new palette, inspired by the rose, debuts in March. According to Karen Foertsch, makeup marketing manager, Guerlain, the new collectionfeatures a wide array of rose shades ranging from neutral to intense.

“The colors are designed to attract attention by their serenity,” said Ms. Foertsch. One of the highlights of the collection is the new Kiss Kiss Pure Comfort lipsticks which will retail for $22 each. In the fall, Guerlain will introduce a lipstick that plumps lips and makes them appear fuller. Also in the fall, Guerlain will introduce a new foundation that Ms. Foertsch said will “create the perfect play of light off the face.” It will come in blue gold, yellow gold, gray gold and red gold families.

Chanel is taking a dramatic approach to Spring 2000 with new Le Regard Laqué eye lacquer. Available in red and black, the eye shadows are infused with sparkle and veneered with a light-attracting transparent gloss finish. Also new is Fruité Cheek Gelée, a translucent, tinted gel that imparts a healthy glow. The gelée can also be applied to lips and eyes.

To reduce fine lines and imperfections, Chanel will launch Visage Parfait Correction Perfection Face Kit. The compact includes corrector, concealer, brightener, luminizer and line perfecter. To complete this dramatic look, Chanel will add new shades of its popular Vamp nail color in Sirocco, a golden brown and Morocco, a frosted brown. The products debut next month.

Estée Lauder’s Playful collection features soft shades of pink, coral, violet, blue and green. The line was inspired by the spring fashion shows which featured “body baring clothes and the glow of healthy skin,” according to the company. The Playful collection will debut next month.

Yves Saint Laurent’s vision of spring is anything but playful—it’s downright regal. Taking its cue from history, the company insists its Sahara collection can transform a woman into a “Cleopatra of the third millennium.” Limited edition, tri-color powders are available in blended earth/sahara pink and blended earth/yellow amber shades. Each retails for $45.


Developments in Direct Sales
Direct sales of color cosmetics are not as easy to track as those in mass or prestige channels, but Mary Kay Cosmetics’ sales rose about 4% through the first half of 1999, according to Shannon Sharp, product manager, global color marketing. The company enjoyed robust first quarter sales after relaunching its nail care line. “We made the nail system more user-friendly,” recalled Ms. Sharp. “It requires fewer steps and dries more quickly. It really spurred our cosmetics sales.”

For spring 2000, the company predicts natural, radiant skin will be popular. To help consumers achieve this look, Mary Kay will launch Highlighters bronzing beads that create a warm shimmer on the face and body. Also available for a limited time is 3-Way Switch Eye Kit. It includes four shades that can be used as an eye color, eyeliner or brow color, brow stencils for shaping and other applicators.

Finally, Mary Kay will launch Sheer Voltage lip color with SPF 15. Available in six shades, the lightweight formula adds color and gloss. With the rollout of a range of new products, Ms. Sharp doesn’t expect demand for color cosmetics to slow down any time soon.

“Color will continue to grow, although it will be split between a minimalist look for the day and a more dramatic look at night,” predicted Ms. Sharp. “What a woman wants to wear at noon is different than what she wants to wear at 6 p.m.”

Next month Avon will introduce Nailwear nail enamel. The formula contains a new high gloss polymer system that promises to last for 10 days with normal touch ups. It’s formulated with a nail nourishing system that contains apricot kernel oil, keratin, vitamin E, panthenol and a special calcium complex. Nailwear, available in 56 shades, will retail for $3.95. Avon’s Be Radiant Spring color cosmetics collection, based on gold and muted pink and brown shades, features the new Glazewear liquid lip color.


A Vision of Light
Oil of Olay is already the leading mass market skin care brand and now it’s making gains in the color cosmetics segment too. This spring, Olay will introduce Visionary Light, a palette of colors that range from soft hues of pearlescent pinks and luminous whites to iridescent violets and soft pink bieges. The line includes new ColorMoist lipstick with vitamins A and E and UVA/UVB SPF 15.

“Women of the new millennium will continue to have less time for themselves, so they will naturally look for products that offer multiple benefits including caring ingredients that are essential to their personal regimen, such as a moisturizing foundation or a lipstick that offers broad-spectrum protection,” noted Anne Martin, manager of global cosmetics marketing, P&G.


Olay’s Long-Term Goal
Ms. Martin said Olay Cosmetics is already on its way to achieving its long-term goal to be the leading skin care-based color cosmetics brand in the U.S. “Right now we’re focusing on delivering what our loyal consumers told us they wanted—innovative multiple benefit products, classic shades and a streamlined product lineup combined with a unique and simplified shopping experience,” said Ms. Martin. “We will continue to be successful by focusing on meeting every woman’s beauty needs, however she chooses to express her individual beauty.”

P&G wants to continue growing the Olay consumer base by reaching makeup users who have not heard of the line or sampled it yet. To accomplish this, P&G will focus on current Oil of Olay skin care users and ensure that they are aware that Olay offers color cosmetics. ”We will also enhance our current marketing program, using broadcast, in-store, print and direct mail vehicles to reach our target market—women who believe that skin care is the key to true beauty.”

The philosopher may argue that true beauty lies within, but as long as women seek to paint themselves in a range of fashionable colors, cosmetics marketers will be the final judges of beauty.

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