By  on November 9, 2007

Maybelline New York is out to prove that timing isn't everything.

Three years after mineral makeup entered the mass market, the country's largest mass cosmetics brand, which is owned by L'Oréal, is entering the mix. Executives at Maybelline acknowledge its less-than-timely launch, which follows close to half-a-dozen brands into the estimated $80 million mass minerals category, including Physicians Formula (the mass market pioneer), L'Oréal Paris and Neutrogena. Even Walgreens, noted several industry observers, has a private label version of minerals with its Isadora brand.

But Karen Fondu, president of Maybelline New York, said doing it right rather than doing it first was important. The brand's launch into minerals, she said, which will take place in January, marks the first time a mineral line will provide a total beauty look, since it touches five cosmetics segments: foundation (Natural Perfecting Foundation), pressed powder (Finishing Veil Powder), concealer (Natural Perfecting Concealer), loose powder (Natural Perfecting Powder Foundation) and blush (Naturally Luminous Blush).

Moreover, the technology within Mineral Power, as the line is called, uses triple refined micro minerals and is talc-, oil- and fragrance-free, setting it apart from competitors. Of all the items, the team points to the liquid foundation as the item with the most potential to drive consumers to the brand.

"We know many people have not tried mineral makeup because they are loyal foundation users. This product really hasn't been made available in this form, so we're excited to bring new people into the category this way," said Fondu.

Maybelline executives would not comment on sales projections for Mineral Power, but Fondu said, "This is the single biggest launch we have had on the brand."

Industry sources estimate Mineral Power could generate $50 million in first-year sales, supported by an ad campaign budgeted at $50 million. Print and TV ads are scheduled for January.

Mass mineral beauty sales only account for about 20 percent of overall mineral sales, Fondu said, which she estimated to be near $400 million. Products are largely sold in spas, salons and specialty beauty stores by brands such as Jane Iredale and Bare Escentuals.

"When you really evaluate the level of purchase outside the trade channel we are operating in, there is a big opportunity to recruit consumers outside of our channel," said Cheryl Vitali, senior vice president at Maybelline New York.According to Euromonitor, Maybelline leads mass makeup sales with $808 million in sales for 2006, in front of L'Oréal Paris with $720 million and Procter & Gamble's Cover Girl with $645 million in sales.

Jane Iredale, the founder of her eponymous mineral makeup brand, is a proponent of mass manufacturers entering the category, as long as they do it right.

"The more people who know about and use mineral makeup, the better," Iredale said. "However, there are many that are not true to the segment. It should be talc-free, and free of synthetic dyes and fragrances. Keep it as clean as possible. In the end, people are being informed that this is the way to go. They are trying it out and seeing a difference."

Mineral Power will be merchandised within the Maybelline section of the cosmetics wall, as well as in display towers, and will feature extensive educational material. All items are priced at or below $9.99.

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