By  on April 22, 1994

CHICAGO-- With new products like Coty's Vanilla Fields, Maybelline's Revitalizing Makeup and the alpha-hydroxy acid skin care trend feeding the consumer's appetite for newness, cosmetics sales in the Midwest mass-market stores look healthy.

But the increasing number of new products coming onto the market also poses a problem. Chains say the proliferation of stockkeeping units is forcing them to heavily edit their offerings to fit into their limited space.

At Kmart, based in Troy, Mich., year-to-date cosmetics sales are up by a high-single-digit percentage, said Mary Prince, merchandise manager.

The discount store chain has placed a greater emphasis on its beauty and health care department in the last year, Prince noted.

"The beauty category creates a definite image for Kmart. The everyday customer enjoys seeing fashion and what's new," she said. "Newness is the life-blood of the category."

Kmart has also aggressively edited its selection, deleting poor performers as new launches come on board, Prince said.

"We've edited our assortment and have fewer skus than we did a year ago," she said.

Treatment and color are driving sales, she noted, with those categories up by double-digit percentages. The women's fragrance category is "sluggish," but men's fragrance is very strong, she added.

In treatment, alpha-hydroxy skin care continues to be the hottest new trend, Prince said, with Pond's being a strong brand. L'Oreal's Plenitude skin care line is also continuing to do well, she said.

The top-performing women's fragrance is Coty's Vanilla Fields, Prince said.

In color, lipsticks, especially with a matte finish, mascara and liquid makeups are all strong trends, according to Sue Grimshaw, Kmart's color cosmetics buyer.

Natural looks are taking precedence, with shades of brown and taupe doing well, she said. Dark colors are popular, and Grimshaw noted a crossover from ethnic-targeted lines into the main market.

For example: "Some of Revlon's deeper tones are being bought by the general market," Grimshaw said.

Kmart's strongest brand in color cosmetics is Maybelline, Grimshaw said. The chain also has high hopes for Maybelline's Revitalizing Makeup, launching this month.

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