By  on July 15, 2005

NEW YORK — Estée Lauder is aiming for a perfect match with its new foundation.

Individualist Natural Finish Makeup is designed to adapt to individual skin tones. It will be introduced in September.

"Estée Lauder is a giant in foundation. We're number two globally, and foundation comprises more than 30 percent of our business," said Andrea Robinson, the new chief marketing officer for the brand. "We think that there's more of an opportunity than ever with the technology that is being introduced with this product."

Individualist is designed to be a natural-appearing formula that provides an exact match with both the shade and undertone of the skin, added Thia Breen, president, North America, for the Estée Lauder brand. "We have very high hopes for this and think it will enhance the strength of our foundation franchise, which includes Doublewear, Futurist, Lucidity and Idealist," she said.

Individualist differs from its Lauder foundation sisters in several important ways, noted Annie Carullo, senior vice president of global product innovation for Estée Lauder.

"This is our first natural-finish makeup," she noted, adding it came about after intense scrutiny of the brand's foundations, which started about two years ago. "We revamped our entire portfolio of foundations at that time, and added new colors to all. We also added a new foundation coding, so that we now have universal coding across all foundations. What we thought was missing, however, was a natural-finish formulation. The bar has been raised in the skin care arena, and because of that, many women are wearing lighter foundations."

Individualist's key is Ideal Match, a proprietary technology that incorporates Color True T102, a new type of titanium, Carullo explained. "It keeps the product from appearing chalky on the skin," she said. Carullo tweaked the formula so that the black pigment used in most foundations to formulate darker shades was replaced with a cobalt blue, which prevents the gray tones that can be caused by a black pigment, she explained.

Individualist will be available in 24 shades, each retailing for $32.50. The colors run the gamut from a pale porcelain to a deep chocolate, in cool, warm and neutral undertones. The brand has also developed an interactive shade guide for its foundation portfolio that helps beauty consultants to quickly and easily determine clients' shade and undertone levels.In the U.S., the foundation will be available in Lauder's 2,200 department and specialty store doors. Advertising breaks in October issues of fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines, including Vanity Fair, Vogue and In Style. A sampling program designed to distribute more than two million samples is also planned.

None of the executives would discuss sales projections or advertising spending, although industry sources estimated that the foundation would do upward of $20 million at retail in its first year on counter, and that about $5 million would be spent on advertising and promotion.

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