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Men’s Corner: Direct Sellers Set Sights on Men

NEW YORK — Beauty’s top direct sellers are eager to tap the growth potential of the men’s side of the business, considering several efforts set to commence this fall.<BR><BR>Avon, for one, signed New York Jets quarterback Chad...

NEW YORK — Beauty’s top direct sellers are eager to tap the growth potential of the men’s side of the business, considering several efforts set to commence this fall.

Avon, for one, signed New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington to appear on the cover of the company’s first men’s catalogue, “M — The Men’s Catalog,” which bows next month and drops quarterly thereafter. Also, the brand is launching men’s products — including two men’s treatment lines — in the fourth quarter.

Furthermore, Avon’s year-old, youth-oriented Mark brand unveiled its first men’s scent, called Mark.blu, this summer. The fragrance is to be launched in November.

Now, Mary Kay is joining the fray. The Dallas-based firm will introduce Velocity for Him next week, a masculine counterpart to its three-year-old Velocity fragrance, skin care and color cosmetics collection for women.

“The men’s market has been exploding,” said Lisa Cohorn, director of product marketing at Mary Kay, discussing why she believes now was the right time to add a masculine scent to the core Velocity brand. “Eighteen- to 24-year-old women are purchasing one of our men’s fragrances every month. That led us to believe that if we targeted their brothers, boyfriends and husbands, it would be a great opportunity for the company and its sellers.”

Industry sources have estimated the Velocity for Him introduction could generate $56 million in first-year sales volume for Mary Kay.

Velocity is important as a brand to Mary Kay, according Cohorn, because it “has really hit on the future of our sales force as well as our customer.” She noted Velocity for Him will target males within the same age range as the female offerings.

Mary Kay’s field of salespeople consists of about 750,000 independent beauty consultants in the U.S. The company operates in 30 global markets and has more than 1.3 million independent beauty consultants worldwide, less than 1 percent of whom are men.

Velocity for Him is Mary Kay’s first men’s scent since Domain in 2000. Its first was Mr. K in 1969 and subsequently it introduced Quattro in 1986 and Tribute for Men in 1991. Velocity for Him, a 2-oz. cologne priced at $28, will be accompanied by a 6.5-oz. tube of body wash priced at $16. International Flavors & Fragrances blended Velocity for Him, an olfactory mix of mandarin and tomato; sassafras and boxwood, and linden bark and teakwood.

To promote Velocity for Him, Mary Kay will provide samples of the scent in its fall “The Look” catalogue to about six million customers in the company’s preferred customer program. The issue, which will drop on Thursday, will contain packaged towelettes saturated with the scent, a sample vehicle created by Arcade Marketing.

According to the Washington-based Direct Selling Association, direct sales within the personal care category were estimated to be $8.1 billion in 2002, the last year the organization amassed figures.

Jafra, a California-based direct marketer that was acquired by Germany-based Vorwerk and Co. KG in the spring, relaunched its 12-item assortment of men’s skin care and fragrances in May. “We’d had the line for 12 years,” said Lorna Paxton, senior manager of marketing and merchandising, “but there was not the big interest [in men’s grooming] 10 years ago that there is today.”

While direct marketer Nu Skin Enterprises launched a men’s line last fall and does not have specific men’s grooming plans for this fall, a spokeswoman said, “We view the men’s grooming market as the next growth category in personal care.”

Regarding efforts by multiple direct marketing firms to target men’s grooming across the wider direct sales arena: “What it signals is it’s a growing market — and it’s a [legitimate] market,” said Mary Kay’s Cohorn. “[Men] are interested in grooming and appearance and they are willing to purchase the products.”

— Matthew W. Evans