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Origins Moves to Pump Up its Colors

NEW YORK -- Having made its mark primarily as a skin care line, Origins Natural Resources is now out to invigorate its color cosmetics business.<BR><BR>The three-year-old division of Estee Lauder Cos. has reformulated several products, added shades to...

NEW YORK — Having made its mark primarily as a skin care line, Origins Natural Resources is now out to invigorate its color cosmetics business.

The three-year-old division of Estee Lauder Cos. has reformulated several products, added shades to make the line more global and developed a new display and sampling program called Free Play. The products are shipping this month to Origins’ 180 department store doors and six freestanding boutiques.

William Lauder, vice president and general manager, said he would like makeup’s percentage of total sales to increase, but declined to specify a target number.

Color cosmetics now contribute a little more than 35 percent of Origins’ sales, compared to about 55 percent for skin care and 10 percent for aromatherapy, Lauder said.

Lauder declined to discuss volume figures, but industry sources estimated Origins did about $30 million in 1993. Sources said the new push in makeup should lead to a 20 percent increase in the color cosmetics business, putting it at about $12.6 million.

Lauder did say that he expects the overall business to grow by 30 to 35 percent this year, and he intends color cosmetics to be one of the driving forces behind that growth.

“Right now, Origins is in a growth phase, and we want to introduce it to as many new customers as we can,” Lauder said.

To encourage more women to try Origins makeup, the company has redesigned its display, taking the tester units from beneath closed domes into the open air. Alongside the testers will be pots of disposable applicators, so women can try the makeup without needing help from a salesperson.

Origins is trying to provide convenience, as well as maintain hygiene. Women who don’t want to try on the makeup in the store can dab the applicators with color and put them in matchbook-style cases to take home, or they can smear the makeup in “coloring books” provided at the counter.

“We wanted customers to come to the counter and play,” said Maria Corbiscello, executive director of product development. “It takes you back to your childhood and crayons and finger painting and colored pencils.”

In reviewing Origins’ color line, Corbiscello said she saw room for improvement both in the formulations and in the shade ranges.

Many of the 10 new blush colors, including the Elderberry and Hazelnut shades, are geared toward ethnic women. Origins also expanded its offerings of eyeshadows, lipsticks, full-coverage lip glosses, lip liners, eye pencils and brow pencils.

“Our shades tended to be brighter, cleaner, more flowery,” Corbiscello said, adding that the new colors contain more brown.

Origins has eliminated the talc and aluminum from the blush, giving it a more natural, sheer appearance.

Aluminum, a common ingredient in cosmetics, was also removed from the foundation and loose powder because of some health concerns about the substance. The lipstick was reformulated to be have better adhesion, making it less sheer but longer-wearing.

In addition, Origins is introducing a product called Matte Sticks for lining and shading lips, priced at $11. The company has added refillable compacts at $3.50 and $4 for blush, eyeshadow and pressed powder.