By  on March 4, 1994

NEW YORK -- Cocktail party chit-chat about QVC Network can easily turn to dollars-per-minute bravado, but the TV shopping operation is trying to go beyond the quick hit.

QVC wants to become a buy-anytime business in cosmetics.

"In order to build brand loyalty, we have to be able to service the customer," said Darlene Daggett, vice president of merchandising. "We have to stock the product."

Daggett said she is working to keep an inventory of a minimum of eight to 10 weeks' worth of merchandise. To do that, Daggett said she has changed her method of computing an open-to-buy. Rather than buying strictly for the on-air program, she said she now adds her expectation for the weeks between broadcasts, which can total up to 25 percent of the business.

To educate the consumer about QVC's buy-anytime offer, the network is running TV promotional spots between programs and sending information to viewers when fulfilling orders.

The buy-anytime program is part of QVC's plan to build its cosmetics business, which Daggett said now accounts for about 5 percent of the network's $1 billion in annual sales.

"We have yet to maximize our cosmetics business," Daggett said. "I think there are significant opportunities to expand the category. It's a huge opportunity for us, definitely a very high priority for 1994."

Daggett said she sees room for growth in "upscale, cutting edge" proprietary lines such as Hydron, a treatment range with updated technology, and branded lines, such as Elizabeth Arden, Guerlain and Tova Borgnine, which are seen lending credibility to QVC. Then there are the key items, which can generate immense volume.

Daggett singled out a "key item" from Flori Roberts, an ethnic-oriented skin care and makeup line. Over a recent weekend, a five-piece Dermablend kit, priced at $27.50, generated sales of more than 32,000 units for a volume of $880,000.

Although she declined to break down cosmetics sales by percentages, Daggett described QVC's skin care and fragrance businesses as "well-developed" and said makeup has "tremendous opportunities."

"We're prepared to work with anybody who can bring us something new and different in color," she said. "In order to make color more interesting, we're going to have to sell it on a treatment basis."

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