Cutting-edge product propositions combined with comprehensive sales and marketing programs were the key to success for the year's standout launches.


PRESTIGE FRAGRANCE

Estée Lauder Sensuous


Estée Lauder long has been known for its best-selling floral scents, but group president John Demsey took a risk this summer by taking the brand into a new olfactive realm with the launch of Sensuous: wood-based notes. “Woods are a growing category in North America and an important opportunity in Europe,” he said during its launch, adding that the scent marks “an evolution of the brand’s core aspirational position—beauty and sensuality at any age.”

To underscore the importance of the launch, the ad campaign featured all four of Lauder’s superstar spokesmodels—Gwyneth Paltrow, Elizabeth Hurley, Carolyn Murphy and Hilary Rhoda—each dressed in a white button-down shirt in various stages of undress. “A white shirt is iconic all over the world,” said Aerin Lauder, senior vice president and creative director, who created the campaign with Doug Lloyd of Lloyd & Co.

In addition to traditional print advertising, Demsey and his team created an exclusive editorial splash with more than 40 pages in Harper’s Bazaar devoted to the Sensuous spokeswomen, staged a comprehensive Internet campaign, ran extensive outdoor advertising and worked scheduling miracles to secure all four stars for an appearance on the same day at Bloomingdale’s. “They took a novel approach,” said NPD’s Karen Grant. “They really went after it in a different way to heighten awareness.” The risk has paid off, said Grant. “Sensuous is one of the top launches of the year, and may come out to be number one,” she said. Although Grant declined to disclose figures, sources say that it could hit first-year retail sales of $50 million in the U.S.
—Julie Naughton


PRESTIGE SKIN CARE
Clinique Medical


As growth in traditional channels stalls, Clinique returned to its dermatological roots to create new streams of revenue. The $4 billion behemoth joined up with Allergan, the Irvine, Calif.–based maker of Botox and Juvéderm, to launch Clinique Medical, created for and to be sold exclusively in doctors’ offices. The five-item line is designed to be used before and after cosmetic procedures such as peels, intense pulse light treatments and microdermabrasion, and is available both as single stockkeeping units and a $235 kit. Clinique developed and formulated the line, and Allergan tapped into its considerable doctor network to distribute it. Sources estimate the line will reach $5 million in first-year retail sales, but more important than sales, said executives, was solidifying Clinique’s positioning in an ever-competitive environment. “This is a strategic move intended to bring Clinique back in front of dermatologists,” said Agnes Landau, senior vice president of global marketing, earlier this year. “It’s not for volume, but to reinforce our commitment to skin care.”
—Matthew W. Evans


PRESTIGE COLOR COSMETICS
Lancome Oscillation


Sneak previews. Newspaper ads trumpeting starred reviews from fickle yet powerful critics. A public relations–orchestrated buzz campaign among influentials. Lancôme borrowed Hollywood-style tactics for the launch of Oscillation, its $34 vibrating mascara, rolling out the red carpet to differentiate itself from the season’s other vibrating mascara, launched by arch rival Estée Lauder. To begin with, the brand previewed Oscillation in 17 of its top U.S. doors on a Thursday in early August, three months before its scheduled launch in November. By lunchtime, stocks were said to be depleted, with retailers estimating Lancôme sold close to $200,000 worth of product in total. Simultaneously came the press push, with parent company L’Oréal flying in its Paris-based mascara guru, Jean-Louis Guéret, to explain the battery-operated technology to beauty editors. During the November launch period, ads mimicking movie posters ran in high-profile papers like The New York Times and the New York Post, with blurbed reviews by beauty editors from Teen Vogue, Lucky and Vanity Fair, while blockbuster ads featuring spokesmodel Daria Werbowy ran in major fashion and beauty magazines. Consumers heard the buzz: Sources say Oscillation rang up $5 million at retail in the U.S. during its first six weeks on counter, and is on track to hit its goal of first year sales of $20 million.
—Jenny B. Fine


PRESTIGE HAIR CARE
Sebastian Professional


Since the early Nineties, Sebastian Professional had been challenged with declining-to-flat sales, a lack of innovation and the impact of widespread diversion. In an effort to tackle these challenges, parent Procter & Gamble combined its brand-building know-how with cutting-edge technology to create a new equity, complete with new packaging and upgraded education. Marketing support, however, is what helped get this brand into the hands of influencers, and included premium in-salon merchandising, aggressive public relations efforts, highly visual consumer print advertising, extensive interactive efforts and the creation of a flagship salon network. Specifically, Sebastian reached out to the all-important fashion community and partnered with “It” girl Cory Kennedy to represent the brand’s hero styling item, Whipped Crème. It also teamed up with designer Charlotte Ronson, sponsoring the hair portion of her spring 2009 show and featuring the notable hipster in its advertisements. Both ad campaigns showcase how Sebastian’s hair care products can transform someone from one look to another. According to Sebastian, the reinvention of the brand, which launched last summer, represents a massive two-year effort and more than 10,000 conversations with stylists and consumers to better understand their needs and insights and clearly define consumer and stylist targets.
—Andrea Nagel
MASS FRAGRANCE
Avon Products

While fragrance sales in the mass channel have beendriven by prestige fragrances trickling down, Avon steered its business in an upwardly mobile direction this year, signing a slew of tony designer and celebrity names to its roster. There were launches for the Paris-based design houses Christian Lacroix and Emanuel Ungaro, collaborations with New York designer Cynthia Rowley and celebrity efforts that centered around actor Patrick Dempsey and the Bond Girl franchise—all with higher price tags than Avon’s previous scents. That aggressive approach worked: In the third quarter of 2008, the company’s net earnings surged 60 percent, which its chairman and chief executive officer, Andrea Jung, attributed to its ongoing three-year turnaround plan and its strategic direction. Fragrance sales for the quarter rose 19 percent, according to the company, driven by the premium-priced introductions. And, despite the tough economic times, Jung reiterated her resolve to stay the line. “We won’t de-invest in this business,” she said during an earnings call. “We’ve worked too hard for too many quarters. We won’t change the course now.”
—Jenny B. Fine


MASS COLOR COSMETICS
Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Inspired by Carmindy


Mass market makeup brands long have tapped high-profile beauties to tout their lines, but only one company has Carmindy, the seemingly tireless and radiantly positive celebrity makeup artist best known for her role on TLC’s What Not to Wear. Sally Hansen, now owned by Coty Inc., tapped the stunner to co-develop its natural and 100 percent paraben-free cosmetics line, called Natural Beauty Inspired by Carmindy. The line consists of 140 stockkeeping units formulated with minerals, natural extracts and active botanicals, including soy, bamboo, papaya and mango. To introduce the line, Carmindy embarked on a five-city tour last summer, making stops in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Miami, where she gave makeovers and plenty of tips (for instance, when applying blush, Carmindy uses a big powder brush to impart a natural flush effect). Her fans waited in long lines for a chance to sit in her makeup chair and snap a photo or have Carmindy sign T-shirts or a copy of her latest book, Get Positively Beautiful. During a recent appearance in a San Antonio HEB Plus store, Carmindy spent four hours giving shoppers makeovers, while her how-to video played on flat-screen TVs throughout the store. Her focus on accentuating the positive plays well with consumers and, apparently, retailers. Natural Beauty is sold in about 5,000 doors, including CVS Pharmacy, Ulta and Duane Reade.
—Molly Prior


MASS SKIN CARE
Nivea Good-Bye Cellulite Body Program


For those serious about ridding their skin of unwanted dimples, simply rubbing on a lotion may be too passive an approach. So, earlier in 2008, Nivea, in a bid to engender the trust of American women, created a comprehensive program designed to get women bikini-ready by summer. Called the Good-bye Cellulite, Hello Bikini Challenge, the 30-day program featured an online component with tips on nutrition, fitness and style. It’s hero element was Nivea Good-bye Cellulite Body Program, an $18.99 kit that includes an anticellulite gel cream and pack of 30 dietary supplements. Nearly 100,000 women flocked online to share their progress and win prizes, including a trip to Miami, bathing suits, health-conscious cookbooks and cash. The launch strategy snuggly fits into Nivea’s repositioning from clinical to cheeky. The transformation in tone is all part of the aim of its Hamburg, Germany–based parent company, Beiersdorf AG, to build an emotional bond with U.S. consumers. The program did more than help broaden Nivea’s appeal. It propped up sales. According to AC Nielsen data provided by Beiersdorf, Nivea ranked second on the list of mass market hand and body care products during the 13-week period ended September 20, with category sales of more than 50 percent in the past two years.
—Molly Prior


MASS HAIR CARE
Sally Hershberger Supreme Head


Celebrity hairstylist lines have come and gone in the mass market, but that didn’t stop uberstylist Sally Hershberger from launching her own version of a salon product, Supreme Head, this year. Hershberger, who helped create iconic subbrands such as Beach Blonde under John Frieda, knew it took more than great product to get into the hands of consumers. She wanted consumers to really know how to use her products. So, in concert with the launch of Supreme Head hair care and styling items in Walgreens came in-store videos and a step-by-step online style guide offering product overviews and a dozen video clips of Hershberger using the various products on different hair types. This effort, combined with her salons, which serve as living labs, as well as her T.V. appearances, has helped Supreme Head generate about $5 million to $7 million in sales for 2008. Success led to expansion into other retailers: Currently, Supreme Head is shipping to Duane Reade, and plans with a national mass market retailer are slated for spring, as well as with Ulta and Shoppers Drug Mart. An additional 11 stock keeping units are set to enter Walgreens in February under the subbrand Shagg, named after Hershberger’s signature cut and the best-selling sku in the current line. A print ad campaign is also in the works for 2009 and, if you believe rumors, so is a reality show based out of her East and West Coast salons.
—Andrea Nagel



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