By  on March 1, 2002

NEW YORK -- What's one way of bringing new life to a mature cosmetics brand?

"A facelift," said Donna Italiano, president of Covermark, a 71-year-old independent focused solely on concealment products.

Completely revamped versions of Covermark's 75 foundations and concealers are slated to bow in May. A burgundy-and-white packaging scheme is giving way to gray tubes and black, lilac and white outer boxes.

The idea is to use a "clean, stylish look" to attract a younger, contemporary customer while staying true to followers of the original line, according to Italiano. "It's an old, established brand," she said. "But it's time to update it -- make it young again. We're reinvesting in it and giving it a whole new [look]."

It's not all about dolled-up product, though. January marked the beginning of an in-depth marketing plan that includes new promotions, displays, training and sampling. The ambitious initiative is designed to more than double total sales, which currently hover around $2 million, during the next two years, according to industry sources.

"Not enough attention has been given to marketing," said Italiano, who was appointed to head the firm in January of last year. "Now we're really focusing on marketing the products."

Italiano's formula involves boosting existing retail accounts rather than markedly growing distribution.

And promotions are key. Covermark is no stranger to a promotional business but now there's a set strategy of two "heavily supported" promotions a year, according to Italiano. Promotions account for roughly a quarter of Covermark's total sales and "keep the line young, fresh and ongoing," said Italiano.

The brand's Tattoo Cover Kit is a big driver in the promotional arena. The seven-item set, which launched last year and retails for $25, has been popular at Sephora and Henri Bendel, according to Italiano. For this year, Covermark has a kit called Surgical Blues that's designed for those in post-surgery and a kit called Leg & Body Worship for scars, bruises and veins.

Covermark is carried in roughly 700 doors, including chainwide at Sephora U.S. The remaining locations are mainly independent boutiques, upscale pharmacies, spas and salons. Some bridal shops also carry the brand, whose prices range from $13.50 for a 4-oz. waterproof makeup remover to $39 for the 2.75-oz. Classic Covermark Foundation. Products like Face Magic, Leg Magic and Coverstik, are designed to address everything from blemishes to prominent birthmarks. A new pressed powder in three shades is set to launch in May.New retail display units, which Italiano calls "streamlined [and] upscale," are also part of Covermark's new look. The units showcase product and testers, a storyboard and new collateral materials such as brochures.

Sampling and makeup artist consultations are also important to the remake. Additionally, "because customers need to [be taught] how to use the products," said Italiano, Covermark has bulked up its schedule of training symposiums for retail sales consultants.

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