By  on August 21, 2009

A New Life For Hard Candy

The scene was Manhattan’s Bryant Park Hotel. The Mumm Champagne flowed, the Chardonnay was Cakebread’s best. The toasts were for Hard Candy, the breakthrough cosmetics brand that ushered in blue nail polish and a color called Trailer Trash. Many women were dressed to thrill. A party for a Fred Segal launch? Nope — the debut of Hard Candy, reborn as a brand that will be sold exclusively in Wal-Mart.

Hard Candy has been totally revamped and reborn as a line only available at Wal-Mart. The brand has been totally re-created for mass, complete with what undoubtedly will be a traffic-stopping fixture with Ed Hardy-esque graphics. According to Wal-Mart executives, everything has been totally overhauled.

For those who don’t remember the history, Hard Candy was launched in the mid-Nineties and zoomed to wholesale volume of about $12 million. It was sold to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 1999 and sold again to Falic Fashion Group three years later. Hard Candy took hard hits from brands — especially mass lines — that copied its edgy look for less. When some savvy mass merchants started asking about the line, its owners looked into a way to revamp.

A deal was inked with NuWorld Beauty, which knows quite a bit about marketing to Wal-Mart via its mary-kateandashley beauty line. Stu Dolleck, president of NuWorld, knew Hard Candy easily could find a home in Wal-Mart. Overseeing Hard Candy at Wal-Mart is Carmen Bauza, vice president of beauty at Wal-Mart — a perfect merchant to oversee it, thanks to her experience at Bath & Body Works as well as Disney.

The new line consists of 261 items ranging from shimmer lip glosses (Plexi Gloss, Lip Tattoo), baked eye shadow duos (Kal-eye-descope) and glitter liquid eyeliner (Walk the Line) to volume mascara (Ginormous Lash) and eyeliner pencils that double as hair sticks (Take Me Out Eyeliner). Prices run for $7 on average. Several iconic Hard Candy items will return, such as the Fortune Telling Lipgloss and the Eye Candy sliding compact with glitter eye shadow and coordinating glitter eyeliner, according to Lauren Kahn, Hard Candy’s senior brand manager, adding that the brand has exited its current retail partners and that is clearing out its existing Hard Candy inventory.

Bauza was a proud parent at the launch and, as expected, beauty editors flocked to a wall set up with samples for the taking as if the items were candy. Many beauty editors who barely step foot in a drug or discount store eagerly grabbed the lip, face, nail and eye products — stuffing them into a cute bag created for the event.

Wal-Mart found space to allocate to Hard Candy from the exit of Max Factor from the market, as well as overall stockkeeping-unit tightening that has occurred at Wal-Mart. The line is slated for next month in 3,000 Wal-Mart doors.

Despite its very youthful look — there are shimmers and Peace signs on packaging — Bauza told one editor who was clearly beyond the age of 40:“You’re going to love it.”

Wal-Mart won’t need to promote the line too much since there is an existing heritage, and for those not familiar with the logo, the impact in store is dramatic. “Trailer Trash should sell well in some parts of Arkansas,” joked one retailing expert, who declined to be identified.

“Seriously, though, if I were Wal-Mart or any other mass merchant, I’d be out looking for deals like this.”

Added another: “Brands that didn’t want anything to do with mass years ago now come knocking on [discounters’] doors.”

This isn’t the first time Wal-Mart is getting a well-known logo for its discount stores. White Stag, the outerwear name of the Seventies and Eighties, is now a Wal-Mart exclusive.

Many companies have tried exclusives, whether they’re imports from other countries or in-house creations, but the Hard Candy launch at Wal-Mart appears to be one of the best “rebirths” yet.

People, Places and Things

A few words with Stu Dolleck, president of NuWorld, a company making noise in the beauty world headed by a president who likes to keep things quiet. But at the launch for Hard Candy, even Dolleck could not hide his enthusiasm as he showed the items to beauty editors and others.

WWDBeautyNews: How did you reintroduce this well-known prestige line for mass?

Dolleck: The overall approach was to take this prestige brand, which is fun, avant-garde and edgy, and create it in the same way as if we were going into any prestige outlet. It still has the same graphics, brand presentation, componentry and formulas as if it were going to an elite store.

WWDBeautyNews: Is this a difficult time to launch, as some brands are being edited?

Dolleck: It would be if this was another me-too. Retailers don’t need just another brand — they’ve already eliminated duplicates. Hard Candy will look nothing like the brands around it.

What’s in Store

Walgreens’ Second LEED Store: Walgreens has opened a unit in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood that is the chain’s second to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

Alberto-Culver Files Claim Against P&G: Alberto-Culver has filed a lawsuit against P&G, stating it found 20 percent of jars of original Noxzema were defective. P&G had been making the product under a transitional supply agreement, signed in October, following the sale.

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