By  on February 4, 2005

NEW YORK — When Lisa Yarnell, along with a group of investors, bought Jane Cosmetics one year ago, the beauty executive pledged to give up her beloved Chanel cosmetics — piece by piece — once the fledgling beauty company was able to offer mass shoppers a product of equal quality.

During a recent meeting held in Midtown here — two blocks from the corporate headquarters of Jane’s former owner, The Estée Lauder Cos. — Yarnell brazenly dumped out her makeup bag, chock full of Jane products. Not a Chanel lip gloss, mascara or concealer in the lot.

Jane’s mission, outlined the firm’s vice president of marketing, Meridith Gray, is to entice prestige loyalists — like Yarnell — to shop the value-priced line in drugstores. To do this, said Gray, Jane is bringing department store aesthetics to its packaging, advertising and in-store displays. At the same time, Jane’s low price points, added Yarnell, president and chief executive officer of the company, will encourage consumers shopping budget brands, such as Wet ‘n’ Wild, to trade up to Jane. Jane is not alone in its attempts to bring mass beauty shoppers department store quality. Other players, such as Sally Hansen Healing Beauty, Physicians Formula, Prestige Cosmetics, and newcomer NYX Cosmetics, are all touting the same positioning, albeit at varying price points. 

Undeterred, Yarnell spent last year doing the heavy lifting to revive the brand: ditching teen items, such as fruit-flavored lip gloss, mapping out a marketing campaign and bulking up Jane’s face makeup business with a cream-to-powder foundation and a foundation with SPF15 under $10 — a first for the mass channel.

Jane, which was positioned as a teen brand in the late Nineties, lost favor with retailers once the teen trend burst, and sales of girl-targeted cosmetics brands failed to yield sales gains. The brand was then relegated to out-of-the-way display space. When Yarnell took over the Jane business last year, many retailers were looking to ax the line all together. She had to convince them the line was worth saving, noted Yarnell. She argued that Jane did have a mature customer base, given face makeup accounted for 40 percent of the company’s retail sales last year. “That’s what told us that we could buy the business,” said Yarnell, noting that the face category drives consumer loyalty in the beauty arena.  

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