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Jane’s Second Act: Maturity

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...

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.  

The company has tweaked the packaging of its foundations, trading plastic tubes for glass bottles and outfitting its oil-free foundation with a pump-top dispenser.

Yarnell reported retailers have rewarded her elbow grease by increasingly moving Jane from promotional areas of the beauty department to the cosmetics wall. She added business is up more than 25 percent since its purchase, and that for the first time in 12 years the brand is profitable.

Jane also made inroads into the Canadian market last year. It has set up shop in Zellers and Pharma Plus, and is in the midst of testing its line at Shoppers Drug Mart.

While the company would not discuss the brand’s distribution, industry sources indicated Jane is in 25 percent more doors than one year ago, and has nabbed 30 percent more retail space.

To reintroduce itself to consumers, Jane launched a marketing campaign at the tail end of 2004. This year’s print ads, which broke in December’s books, rely on four “Janes,” or personalities, to capture the attention of its core consumers, women 19 to 39 years old. Each of the Janes, namely, Baby Jane, G.I. Jane, Mary Jane and Jungle Jane, represents a 21-piece color collection that will be merchandised on countertop displays and supported with a dedicated print ad. Baby Jane and G.I. Jane displays shipped in December, with ads breaking in February.

Their peers, Mary Jane and Jungle Jane, will follow in late spring. A fifth Jane, currently dubbed Jane Bond — a glamorous, mysterious incarnation — is scheduled to join the gaggle of Janes for holiday. Industry sources anticipate Jane’s advertising efforts will total $5 million over 2005.

Yarnell and her team will present Jane’s product at the Efficient Customer Response Management meeting, scheduled to take place in San Francisco next week.

The lineup includes a smattering of lip and eye products. Several of the dual use products include: Gloss ’n Line, a lip liner and gloss in one, and Shadow ’n Line, a cream shadow with eyeliner, for a suggested retail price of $4.99 each; ColorStick Lip Crayon, said to condition and plump lips, and ColorStick Eye Crayon, designed to smooth wrinkles and brighten eyes for $3.99 each, and Max Lash2 Primer +, a dual-ended mascara with primer on one end and pigment on the other for $4.99 each. Jane will also expand its mascara offering with Max Lash2 Mascara +, a dual-barreled wand with black mascara on one side and a vibrant pigment — either purple, gold or blue — on the other.

Yarnell commented that this year, more than half the Jane products on its cosmetics wall are new. While the company would not comment on sales, industry sources expect Jane’s sales, which were less than $25 million in 2004, to reach $40 million by the end of this year.

The company has also replaced Jane’s current logo with a simplified version (without dots) on product cards, which will ship this spring. With the change, the company has prevented peg holes, used for merchandising the cards, from piercing through the Jane logo. Updates to the firm’s wall display are slated for fall.