By  on June 17, 1994

NEW YORK -- Almay is out to add a cutting edge to its hypoallergenic heritage.

For 65 years, the company has presented its products as being gentle, dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested and safe for consumers with sensitive skin.

Now Almay has decided that it wants to be all of these things and more.

"We felt that consumers with sensitive skin were looking for the same kind of excitement, fashion and product news that [mainstream] customers want," said Rosie Albright, executive vice president of the company, which is a division of Revlon. "Our focus from now on will be to offer true product innovation and fashionable shades, while staying true to our hypoallergenic roots."

Over the remainder of this year and through 1995, the company will introduce a series of new products, reformulate many existing ones, launch new advertising campaigns and redesign its merchandising units to project a more fashion-forward and innovative appearance.

Many of the revamped product lines will also carry loftier price tags than before, to reinforce a more upscale image.

Here is what is new with Almay:

  • A high tech treatment and makeup line called Time-Off, introduced in April.
  • The restaging of the company's eye shadow business in August, a move that will involve more currently fashionable shades, tonier-looking packaging and a new display unit.
  • The launch next February of an upgraded liquid eyeliner and mascara.
  • The revamping of Almay's lipstick and nail enamel businesses in March, including new shades and formulas, as well as a redesigned merchandising unit.
  • A heftier ad budget, with new print and television campaigns slated for each of the new launches.
  • All the new products will be introduced in Almay's 18,000 mass market doors.
While Almay executives declined to discuss sales and advertising figures, industry sources estimated that this year the company should have growth of 15 to 18 percent, reaching a wholesale volume of $175 million to $180 million.

Sources predicted that next year's new promotions and products would boost sales by at least that much, meaning a wholesale volume in 1995 of $200 million to $212 million.Almay is reportedly spending $10 million to $12 million in print and TV advertising this year, which represents roughly a 10 percent increase over last year's budget. The company is expected to spend up to $15 million in advertising in 1995.

Almay instituted its new approach in April when it launched Time-Off. The line is priced about 20 percent above comparable Almay products, and the items contain an ingredient called Gentle Glucose Complex.

The company maintains that this sugar-derived ingredient has virtually the same exfoliating and moisturizing benefits of alpha-hydroxy acid products, without any of the associated irritation.

"We positioned this as a premium line," Albright said. "It has technologically advanced ingredients and more sophisticated packaging than our other treatment products. We think it will definitely appeal to department store customers."

According to sources, the new line could have sales of $25 million to $35 million in its first year.

Almay is reportedly backing the brand during the second half of this year with a $6 million print and TV campaign that features Kathy Lee Gifford.

Next up in the company's product realignment is the launch of Easy-to-Wear Longlasting EyeColor. The new eye shadow line will consist of 15 single-shade compacts with a suggested retail price of $2.95 each, five duos for $3.50 each and eight quads at $5.10 apiece.

The singles will be priced 20 cents above Almay's existing products, which will be eliminated, while the new duos and quads will be 15 cents more.

The company maintains that the new shadows are not only hypoallergenic, but long-lasting and fade-proof. The formula is said to be nonirritating and safe for wearers of contact lens.

In addition to upgrading the performance claims of its eyeshadows, the company said nearly any consumer would be satisfied with the muted, natural-looking shade selection.

"We are redoing our eye shadow line because we knew we could offer superior performance benefits and we needed to revise our shade selections, packaging and merchandising units," said Jerri Baccus Glover, vice president of makeup marketing.

Baccus Glover noted that the company's previous eye shadow business spanned four separate lines that all had different claims and shades."This is the first time we have a defined shade strategy instead of just trying to offer as broad a selection as possible," she said. "All of our shades now follow the trend in fashion toward muted or natural color."

Print ads for the new shadows are slated to break in October.

Almay will turn to the eye category in January with the launch of Amazing Lash Mascara and I-Liner.

The company maintains that Amazing Lash lengthens, conditions, thickens and separates lashes. According to Baccus Glover, thanks to the football shape of the mascara brush and its varied bristles, the product accomplishes all four benefits at once.

Traditional mascaras on the market can usually achieve just one or two functions, she claimed.

The new mascara will be launched in three colors: Extremely Black, Quite Black and Intense Brown. Each tube will be priced at $5.50, about 40 cents more than Almay's seven other brands of mascara.

I-Liner is a liquid eyeliner that is presented in a bottle reminiscent of an inkwell. The company claims that the item's applicator, which has a soft and pliable nylon tip, provides precise and even application.

The company also claims the product is nonirritating, fast-drying and water-resistant.

The liner will be available in three colors: Precise Black, Perfect Gray and Definite Brown at $5.75 each.

The company will inaugurate a print campaign for both new items in February.

"We believe that we are the first company in the mass market to offer this kind of technology in an eyeliner product," Albright said. "And this one has the added benefits of being hypoallergenic and ophthalmologist- and dermatologist-tested. Typically, people with sensitive skin or contact lenses aren't able to take advantage of technology like this."

Next in line will be the company's lipstick and nail businesses, which are scheduled to be overhauled in March.

As with the eye shadows, the shades of both the lipsticks and the nail enamels have been updated to be more natural and universally appealing, according to Baccus Glover.

The company will now have three different lipstick formulas under the brand name Color Protective.There will be 28 shades of a basic everyday lipstick with a creamy formula, plus two specialty products: an intensive moisturizing treatment and a lip base. Also available will be 10 shades of a moisturizing matte formula and 10 shades of a sheer lipstick with SPF 15.

Each tube of lipstick will be priced at $5.50, up from $4.95, and will be merchandised in a new display.

For easier shopping, Baccus Glover noted, the shades will be grouped horizontally according to color family and vertically by shade intensity.

At present, the company's lipstick business consists of the Color Protective line, along with a brand called SPF Lipcolor, which will be discontinued. The shades are currently merchandised alphabetically.

"Basically, we wanted to address what we found to be the major consumer concerns with both our lip and nail businesses," said Baccus Glover. "With lipstick, people seem to want long wear, moisturization and color [stability]. With nail enamel, they want long wear and fast drying time, plus strengthening and hardening properties."

The company will reformulate its Color Protective nail enamel and has pared the nail enamel line back to 27 shades from 36. Prices will be $3.25 per item, up from $2.95.

Print advertising for the new lip and nail products will break at the end of next April.

"These two years really represent a big change for us," Albright said. "We have a new and aggressive attitude and are really planning to be out there with continued innovation, advertising and fashion."

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