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A Multibrand Game Plan for Lancaster

PARIS — Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of marketing for cosmetics and American licenses for Lancaster Group Worldwide, is getting mileage from her lineup.<BR><BR>She oversees such wide-ranging brands as Jennifer Lopez, Marc Jacobs,...

PARIS — Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of marketing for cosmetics and American licenses for Lancaster Group Worldwide, is getting mileage from her lineup.

She oversees such wide-ranging brands as Jennifer Lopez, Marc Jacobs, Kenneth Cole and Lancaster.

“My goal is to treat each brand with its own personality,” she said, “and to make sure that the business model is appropriate for the personality of the brand and the reach of the brand.”

That approach appears to be working beautifully. Last year in the U.S., Jennifer Lopez’s Glow by JLo women’s fragrance ranked fourth in sales, and Kenneth Cole’s Black for Women and Black for Men were each among the top 10 scents in their respective categories, according to Walsh.

Meanwhile, Marc Jacobs — which she calls a “jewel” at Lancaster — has a unique international following. And when it comes to the Lancaster brand, which has undergone a renaissance in everything from its packaging to its formulations, Walsh said she has high hopes.

“Over the next three years, we want to make Lancaster our most profitable brand and achieve double-digit increases in all four of its product categories,” she said. At present, Lancaster generates about as much business as Lopez.

In Europe, Walsh wishes to maintain Lancaster sun care’s prime position. The brand’s skin care showing there is expected to rise to 10 from 16. For makeup, she expects Lancaster will come in at the 11th spot, compared with its current 15th position.

Color cosmetics, she said, has long existed in the Lancaster line, but it hadn’t boasted a strong following. “So part of the renaissance was to leverage our technology in skin and sun care and to really bring it into the makeup category,” said Walsh.

In fragrance, she is excited about the brand’s first major initiative, called Aquazur.

Geographically speaking, there are no immediate plans for the Lancaster brand to enter the U.S. and Asian markets.

“Lancaster is a European brand with a wonderful history, and we’ll grow our market share first and foremost in Europe — in our own backyard,” said Walsh. “Once that’s achieved, then additional distribution opportunities will open, too.”

This story first appeared in the September 3, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

She cited among the brand’s most successful products 365 Elixir, which was launched last September and became Lancaster’s second-best stockkeeping unit in value. Also in skin care, Lancaster will focus on antiaging items.

The company will potentially tap into new sun care categories. And in makeup, its focus is to be on lipstick and foundation.

Walsh doesn’t underestimate the challenge of restoring the Lancaster brand to its former glory. “The hardest thing in the world,” she said, “is to convince someone that a brand this old is relevant and hot and young again. But I think our plan is extremely well focused.”

As for Jennifer Lopez, it is a name that has been relevant and hot since its launch.

“It’s a celebrity brand,” said Walsh, “so when the celebrity’s hot, you’ve got to move with it.”

That means creating products that grab the attention of consumers. For Lopez, in April the company launched BodyGlow, which is “off to a great start,” said Walsh. “Consumers love the idea of being able to get a bronzer that gives them Jennifer’s golden skin.”

Among Lopez’s strongest markets are the U.S., Germany, the U.K. and travel retail.

A new women’s scent is also slated for a spring launch in the U.S.

All this should translate into strong growth. “With Lopez, the plan is to have a single-digit increase over the next three years — but a high-single-digit increase,” said Walsh.

When it comes to Kenneth Cole, Walsh exclaims: “What a great success. I am just so psyched.”

The aim is for the brand to clock high double-digit gains over the next three years.

“It’s an extremely aggressive pipeline, which is due to the different franchises under the Kenneth Cole umbrella — Kenneth Cole and Reaction — which both allow us to launch multiple fragrances,” she said.

For Marc Jacobs, which started from a smaller base than the other brands she oversees, Walsh expects “to triple the business over the next three years.” She said the brand — which starting this fall will include the Blush Marc Jacobs scent — requires a careful distribution strategy.

“Marc Jacobs needs to be treated like a good specialty store brand,” she said, “and we thought that the distribution became too broad, too fast. When it launches in fall 2004, I’m hoping that Blush will reenergize the existing men’s and women’s business, because we’re treating it in the right way.”

Also adding to the brand’s allure, said Walsh, are ancillaries that are “quite unique.” Among the bestsellers are hair shine and body butter.

Of all Walsh’s brands, Marc Jacobs enjoys what she calls “a unique mix of markets,” with particularly strong business in the U.S., travel retail, the U.K., Japan and France.

Looking ahead, does Walsh believe her cosmetics and American licenses division has room for additional brands? She responds to the question with characteristic enthusiasm.

“Bring ’em on,” said Walsh. “Bring ’em on.”