From reinventing the mascara wand to reimagining the at-home hair color experience, this year’s standout products captured the imaginations (and dollars) of consumers and retailers alike.
This story first appeared in the December 12, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
PRESTIGE COLOR COSMETICS
Givenchy Phenomen’eyes Mascara
See a ball where a brush should be on a mascara wand and it’s natural to assume its creator has lost his or her marbles. Givenchy proved quite the contrary, though, with Phenomen’Eyes, a sphere-topped mascara wand that proved form and function go hand in hand. “The ergonomic brush allows the mascara to grab the very roots of the lashes and, by coating this critical area, the mascara mimics the same effect as eyeliner: Eyes appear fresher, enhanced and more awake,” explained Nicolas Degennes, Givenchy’s creative director of makeup. Phenomen’Eyes’ formula was as innovative as the wand, with fluid waxes for maximum playtime and molding polymers to keep lashes in place once the desired amount has been applied. For the launch, Givenchy created buzz with pop-up galleries outside Sephora doors, nighttime video installations in New York and a create your-own–screen saver Internet campaign. The plan worked: Launched as a Sephora exclusive in August, Phenomen’Eyes sold out in a month and continues to be a top seller in both the U.S. and France, with sources estimating that first-year retail sales will exceed $7 million in the U.S. alone.
Creating five different scents and five different doll-shaped bottles for a simultaneous launch would be viewed by many companies as nuts. Coty isn’t most companies, though, and that’s exactly what the house did with Gwen Stefani’s September launch of Harajuku Lovers. For the project, Stefani created scents based on herself and her four real-life backup singers, Love, Angel, Music and Baby. “I didn’t think this project would actually come to life,” she admitted. “The idea that Coty would let me do five fragrances was a fantasy. [But] it really had to be five. Each girl has her own personality and sense of style.” Stefani has long been fascinated by the whimsical style of Tokyo’s Harajuku area. That whimsy is reflected in the Harajuku Lovers bottles, which consist of a glass base holding the juice and a personalized doll on top, each meticulously crafted with hand-applied detailing. The scents are inspired by Stefani’s views of her singers. Love is described as “sweet, caring, free-spirited and off in her own little world.” Lil’ Angel is “constantly looking out for others,” but is no saint. Music is “looking to make someone laugh,” and Baby is “enticing in her frilly innocence.” And then there’s G, representing the singer herself. Coty’s risk has paid off: Sources say the scents will hit $30 million globally in first-year sales.
PRESTIGE SKIN CARE
At-home high-tech devices had retailers raving this year, and earning the biggest kudos of all was the Tria Laser. The first laser hair remover approved for direct-to-consumer sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the $995 device launched in Bergdorf Goodman, Studio at Fred Segal, select Bliss spas and dermatologists’ offices earlier this year. Already available in select European and Asian markets under the name i-Epi, the device sold 15,000 units in two years at a higher price point of $1,600. Created by SpectraGenics, the company that developed the first diode-laser hair-removal technology more than decade ago, Tria was called “easy and effective” by Bergdorf ’s Pat Saxby. “My customers want things that really work,” she said earlier this year. One of a handful of FDA-approved personal-use devices, Tria has consumers migrating from dermatologists’ offices and spas to the privacy of their bathrooms for services that were previously only performed by professionals. Said dermatologist Eric Bernstein, who started selling the device shortly after its U.S. introduction: “You cannot stop a field-changing technology. You have to embrace it.”
—Jenny B. Fine
Horst Rechelbacher isn’t one to mince words or think small. He’s the person, after all, who introduced aromatherapy to the U.S. with his line Aveda, which he sold to the Estée Lauder Cos. in 1997 for a reported $300 million. So, after years of criticizing the beauty industry for “harmful” product formulations, he put his money where his mouth was with the launch of Intelligent Nutrients, a hair care line bearing the USDA Organic seal. All items, save for two designed for color-treated hair, are 100 percent certified organic; each contains a proprietary seed oil complex, described as an antiaging, antioxidant blend of black cumin, pumpkin, red grape, raspberry and cranberry seed oils. Pure enough to drink—as Rechelbacher himself demonstrated by quaffing hair spray during the line’s debut luncheon—Intelligent Nutrients’ products contain many ingredients sourced directly from his 600-acre farm in Wisconsin. The entrepreneur enlisted a team of scientists and marketers to launch the venture, with an innovative cross channel distribution strategy that ranges from the trendy—such as ABC Carpet & Home, Studio at Fred Segal and Barneys New York—to the populist, like the specialty chain Pure Beauty.
—Jenny B. Fine
MASS SKIN CARE
Dr. Miracle’s My Goodbye Acne System
There haven’t been many innovations for women of color when it comes to mass market acne medications. Seeing that gap, Dr. Miracle’s stepped up with a new system called My Goodbye Acne. Brian K. Marks, Dr. Miracle’s partner, president and chief executive officer, said black women have specific needs when it comes to acne. “Women of color actually have oily skin on their face and dry skin on the body,” he explained. My Goodbye Acne is also formulated to treat acne for women of all ages. The three-step program starts off with an exfoliating cleanser, followed by a balancing toner and finally a tingling repairing lotion to kill acne and blackheads before they start. The tingling action is directly inspired by a similar tingling sensation produced by Dr. Miracle’s hair care, which the company created to let users know the products are working. The merchandising behind My Goodbye Acne is as clever as the products. To help draw attention, shelf talkers feature a red blinking light to signify a pimple. “You can’t miss it in the store,” laughed Marks. The visibility worked: Dr. Miracle’s, which also markets a 25–stockkeeping unit hair care line, is quickly proving that, in a category dominated by the majors, an independent firm can make waves, too.
Bath & Body Works Black Amethyst
Bath & Body Works’ decision to introduce a new olfactive category of fragrance with a chypre scent, Black Amethyst, was one well worth taking this fall. According to Camille McDonald, president of brand development and merchandising at the retailer, Black Amethyst marked the company’s most successful fragrance launch in its history, surpassing the success of Japanese Cherry Blossom in its first two months on counter. “We wanted to create a fragrance that was sheer and complex at the same time,” said McDonald. Created by Givaudan, the seven-item collection includes a fragrance mist, shower gel, body lotion, eau de toilette, body butter and cream and hand cream. Black Amethyst’s eau de toilette bottle also marks the national debut of the company’s repackaging efforts, which will be nationwide starting in March.
MASS COLOR COSMETICS
Physicians Formula Organic Wear
As the debate intensified in the beauty industry about the merits and authenticity of natural products, Physicians Formula, undeterred, charged ahead with the introduction of Organic Wear, the first certified-organic mass market makeup line. The entry took the mass market’s flirtation with organic to a more serious level, clearing space for ecominded products not just in the skin care aisle, but along the cosmetics wall, as well. The 42-item collection—including tinted moisturizer and pressed powders for the eyes, cheeks, lips and face—is stamped with Ecocert organic certification, which stipulates that 95 percent of the ingredients are of natural origins and at least 90 percent of the total formula contains certified-organic ingredients. Packaged in recycled paper, the products use 93 percent less plastic than standard compacts. Prices are about $1 more than the bulk Physicians Formula line. The company—which began the effort by asking consumers, “How green is your makeup?”—plans to put a more glamorous spin on that message for its 2009 introductions, although its lean toward green has definitely worked. During its most recent earnings call, Physicians Formula stated Organic Wear was the number two–ranked masstige makeup franchise over the 52-week period ended October 4, with a 14.7 percent share of new items, according to AC Nielsen data.
Clairol Nice ‘N Easy Perfect 10
When Procter & Gamble’s Susan Arnold visited WWD’s headquarters in 2002, she talked about some of her goals for P&G Beauty, one of the most important being improving the at-home hair color experience. In February 2008, Nice ’n Easy Perfect 10 rolled out to the mass market with a game-changing formula that addressed many negative home hair coloring traits. With Perfect 10, hair could be colored in 10 minutes, the formula’s aroma resembled a shampoo scent and hair was left soft and silky. Newly designed packaging eased the crucial shade selection process by featuring before-and-after photos on boxes, as well as glamorous photos of models on package facings. And, by breaking its own $10 price ceiling for home hair color—Perfect 10 retails for $13.99—P&G even changed what the category can command for cutting-edge technology. To develop Perfect 10, P&G tapped into its knowledge of bleaching and the fabric industry and created amino glycine, a combination of ammonium carbonate, hydrogen peroxide and glycine, which changes the lightening system currently used in home color kits. Now it’s looking to use the same technology to transform the professional business. Launching Perfect 10 in the mass market with 15 shades required 10,000 trials. Now, at almost 24 shades, P&G seems on its way to creating a global palette of 200 shades for salons.