NEW YORK -- Retailers say Clarion's call was never clear.
Launched in 1986 by Noxell Corp. as the mass market's answer to Clinique, Clarion was not able to expand its wholesale volume beyond $35 million, even with the muscle of Procter & Gamble, which acquired it in 1989.
Last week P&G decided to pull the plug and phase the line out by June 1995.
"Clarion never really had a strong focus, except when it was launched as a hypo-allergenic line," said Pat Gardocki, director of merchandising at F&M Distributors, Warren, Mich.
Most recently, P&G tried to establish Clarion as a brand for women over 30.
Many chains had given P&G an ultimatum: Make Clarion perform or it gets dropped from their assortment.
"We had an agreement set last June that they would make it profitable by December or it was out," said the buyer for a large discount chain.
Others, such as Fay's Drug Stores, based in Liverpool, N.Y., had already edited Clarion from its merchandise selection.
Although P&G's announcement didn't catch buyers off guard, the terms of the phaseout program were a pleasant surprise.
The buyers said P&G has put together a lucrative, comprehensive program that includes markdown money, return agreements and a discount program to help retailers wean out the Clarion inventory.
Based on how aggressive the plan is, buyers believe P&G has a huge inventory of product it must move.
"I was very surprised at how lucrative it can be," noted Gardocki.
Many other phaseout programs in the beauty industry have not been as well executed, buyers said. The plans have resulted in empty pegs on the wall or a patchwork of products that detract from the overall appearance of the department, as well as deep discounts that erode gross margins.
A P&G spokeswoman would not comment on the specifics of the program other than to confirm that a plan is in place.
The only catch: Retailers must retain their space commitment to P&G brands until 1995 in order to get the full benefit of the phaseout program."It is all or nothing," said one buyer.
Space in the nation's mass market stores is at a premium. Not all retailers are sure they want to fill precious shelves with P&G's brands.
F&M had already decided to chop Clarion from four feet to two feet, and planned to extend P&G's sister product, Max Factor.
Others view it as an opportunity to uncover space for Maybelline's expansion of the Revitalizing line, which is aimed at the 35-plus consumer.
"We have had an excellent response to Revitalizing," said Robert Hiatt, Maybelline's president and chief executive officer. "We have asked retailers to give us a space commitment, especially by finding room from least-productive lines."
Hiatt said the growing popularity of Revitalizing and its need for more space on cosmetics peg walls helped P&G "face reality" and reach the decision to phase out Clarion.
"You can't continue to flog a losing cause," said Hiatt.
"I'm looking into expanding Maybelline and giving space to Almay," said Gina Russo, buyer for The Rx Place, based in New York. "Almay has been doing really well for us and this is a good time to expand it."
Russo has had service problems with P&G and is wary of expanding Cover Girl and Max Factor. Another buyer was adamant in saying, "Why would I give them more space when already they have holes on the wall?"
Buyers and competitors also wonder whether P&G has a new line up its sleeve -- an Oil of Olay cosmetics launch, perhaps. Although rumors are rife that P&G has a line ready to go into test marketing, no retailers would admit to having been presented with a plan.
Unfortunately, many retailers also think the push to clear out Clarion might hurt in the long run. Gardocki at F&M plans to slash prices on many Clarion items to $2 and under -- about half the suggested retail. She thinks it will push sales and possibly encourage new users.
"Quality was never the issue for Clarion, and people may now come to like it and will be disappointed when they can't find it one year from now," she said. "I'm also concerned to see when new lines can't make it and what that means for the business."The Health & Beauty Care Division of the Anti-Defamation League held a testimonial honoring James I. Harrison Jr. and James I. Harrison 3rd on Jan. 20 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York.
The elder Harrison is ceo of Harco Drug, Tuscaloosa, Ala., the second-largest privately owned drug chain in the industry. His son is president of sales. The team was honored for its contributions to the chain drug industry as well as their struggle against bigotry, according to Stewart Turley, chairman and president of the Jack Eckerd Corp. and master of ceremonies. More than $300,000 was raised to continue the programs of the Anti-Defamation League.
Beauty executives in attendance said 1994 would shape up as a turning point for the business.
"It is going to be a more gentle year," predicted Jack Hall, Revlon's executive vice president of sales, referring to last year's rough and tumble business climate.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews