By  on March 4, 2005

NEW YORK — Del Labs’ new leader may have temporarily stepped out of the industry spotlight last year, but the company’s beauty brands — even in the midst of an acquisition — remained as aggressive as ever, declared William McMenemy, who assumed the president and chief executive officer posts in January.

McMenemy pledged that the company has not trimmed operating budgets across its brand portfolio, which includes N.Y.C. New York Color and Sally Hansen Healing Beauty, among others.

That said, N.Y.C. has two significant new product programs planned for spring. The value cosmetics brand is expanding into new territory — L’Oréal and Olay’s space — with the introduction of a skin care line called Nourish Your Complexion.

Each of its five items, which are bowing now, is billed as a straightforward, dual-purpose skin treatment. Two target younger women: the Smooth Skin Exfoliating Crème Cleanser/Toner, which is described as a triple-action formula that cleans, scrubs and tones skin, and Skin Radiance Moisturizing Lotion, said to brighten skin.

Pure Skin Foaming Crème Cleanser/Toner, which is designed to clean pores and soften skin; Skin Protox, said to smooth fine lines, and Eye New, an under-eye gel, are expected to appeal to mature women. 

In a sea of $20 creams within the mass market, N.Y.C.’s $4.99 price point is a bargain alternative. “[The consumer] wants more and expects more from products,” said Laura Weinstein, vice president of Del Lab’s N.Y.C. “The gap between the higher-end mass product and the lower-tier department store item is closing. But often these prices are still out of reach for many consumers.” 

The theory, explained Weinstein, is that by moving into another product category, N.Y.C. will grab more dollars from the value shopper.

The skin care offering will be merchandised alongside N.Y.C.’s color cosmetics — not in the skin care aisle. The company will introduce Nourish Your Complexion on countertop displays with a $1-off coupon and with point-of-purchase material on N.Y.C.’s wall display. An e-mail blast will go out to consumers registered on the beauty brand’s Web site.Industry sources expect N.Y.C.’s go at skin care to generate first-year retail sales of $5 million.

Its staunch competitor, Wet ‘n’ Wild, a Markwins Beauty Products brand, plans to launch a skin care collection in spring 2006.

N.Y.C.’s strategy to expand into more categories, adding dual-purpose products along the way, also includes a pencil bar, eight stockkeeping units of cosmetics in pencil form. “We are doing every conceivable form of makeup in a pencil,” said McMenemy, naming foundation sticks and highlighters as examples. The pencils range in price from $2.99 for a Jumbo Lipstick Pencil to $4.99 for an Anti-Shine Stick, which is designed to remove oil and soften the appearance of wrinkles. Some of the other items in the lineup include Miss Sparkle Highlighter Pencil, Flatliner Jumbo Eye Pencil, Eye Shadow Wands, Corrective Color Pencils in green and yellow and Concealer/Foundation Sticks.

Retailers are giving the brand more display space to make room for the pencil bar, reported Weinstein, adding that N.Y.C. opened in new doors in 2004 and will continue to expand in 2005.

Del Lab’s is also revisiting its strategy for the two-year-old cosmetics line Sally Hansen Healing Beauty. The line, a spin-off of the Sally Hansen nail care business, launched in 2-foot and 3-foot displays with face makeup accounting for the bulk of the assortment. While Fast and Flawless Airbrush Makeup had a successful run, other products in the face segment underperformed, said McMenemy.  Retailers responded by cutting display space to 1 foot and 2 feet.

In the face makeup category, Sally Hansen sales slipped more than 8 percent to $13 million, while its sales in the lip category jumped 94 percent to $4 million for the year ended Jan. 23 (excluding Wal-Mart), according to Information Resources Inc.

Sally Hansen, in turn, has trimmed its mix of face makeup from 80 percent to 20 percent of sku’s. Sally Hansen is now looking to the faster-turning lip products and its popular Airbrush franchise to fill the space. Airbrush Sun, a spray-on tan available for the face and body, will bow this spring.

“Our focus is innovation. It is part of our culture,” said McMenemy.  “We’ve always been nimble, but now we’ll be faster.”

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