BOSTON — Retailers will be rich in minerals as they reset beauty departments next year.

Entries into the mineral makeup segment were the predominant trend at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores' Marketplace meeting, held this week at the Boston Conference and Exhibition Center. Beginning as soon as next month, mass market retailers will have more mass equivalents of the cosmetics brand Bare Escentuals, which became a hot item in the prestige market in the Nineties. New mineral lines from Maybelline, Revlon, Wet 'n' Wild and Mirage are expected to join mass market mineral pioneer Physicians Formula and its followers, Neutrogena, Milani, Jane, L'Oréal, Cover Girl and Walgreens' exclusive brand IsaDora. Almay, too, is launching mineral items, slated to land in stores next month.

Retailers acknowledged that mineral makeup offers a better end result and are in the midst of determining just how many mineral items they need.

"Minerals have a loyal following," confirmed Montean La Porte, buyer for Ulta, which sells Bare Escentuals as well as its own house line.

Ingrid Jackel, chief executive officer of Physicians Formula, said minerals, like bronzers, is now a category, not just a trend. "You can compare it to long-wearing formulas like ColorStay when they first debuted. They have become a category."

Now the mineral wars are heating up among companies as they try to prove their powders are superior to others.

Milani is expanding on its mineral assortment in 2008 with Mineral Eye Pencils, which are talc free and formulated with vitamin E, and oil from mango seed, cottonseed and jojoba. Items will sell for $3.99 each. Also, a new Mineral Blush with a no-mess brush is entering stores and will sell for $4.99.

Revlon's mineral entry, a complete cosmetics lineup which includes face, color and pencil items, is said to be marketed under the Age-Defying brand, a natural link since minerals are known to hide imperfections. One buyer who recently viewed the line called it "the best lineup from the company in several years."

Tina Perez, vice president of marketing for Markwins International, the maker of Wet 'n' Wild, said the company's entry into minerals will take the category "to the next step."Jane is expanding on its Be Pure mineral line, including seven new eye shadows, mineral pencils and eight mineral lip balms.

L'Oréal, said one buyer, is expanding on its Bare Naturale Minerals line this fall, with a mineral veil product as well as with eye shadows.

Alba and Juice Organics are each launching color-tinted glosses formulated with minerals. Sally Hansen also offers minerals imbued in lip color. And, Mirage's mineral items claim to have more mineral concentration.

The avalanche of new mineral items will create a space crunch on the cosmetics wall. Wet 'n' Wild, for example, is said to be asking for 2 more feet. Jane, according to company president and ceo Lisa Yarnell, is receiving more footage based on the success of its Be Pure mineral items.

Another impact of the rush to minerals may be the bottom line, since some of the more value-type mineral items, which are produced overseas for a fraction of the cost, have much lower price points.

"Retailers are digging themselves a hole," said Physician Formula's Jackel. "They are letting budget and value brands knock off the national bands and the impact is simple," noting that consumers who are trading down from an $18 sale to a $5 sale will affect the entire category.

Physician's Formula is in final testing for its 30-minute infomercial venture. Jackel said the next phase of testing will measure whether sales of Physicians Formula increases in stores in the regions the infomercial is running. Products purchased from the infomercial include a $5 retailer coupon to drive customers to stores. If the venture is successful, the infomercial may launch nationally in 2008. — Faye Brookman, Andrea Nagel and Michelle Edgar

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