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NEW YORK — Revlon is out to prove that 2004 was not a typical year.
The cosmetics company’s 2005 lineup includes signing new celebrity spokeswomen, such as Susan Sarandon and Kate Bosworth. Revlon also shines a spotlight on its ability to pump out a bountiful amount of launches, showing that this year’s slimmer-than-usual new product portfolio was an anomaly — one due merely to tweaking its new product development process, which has a lead time of 18 to 24 months.
Next year’s vision includes the company taking charge of its sexy and confident brand positioning and bringing existing franchises up to date with reformulations. Repackaging plays a key role, too — at least one upgrade could set an industry trend.
One of Revlon’s most hopeful prospects is Fabulash Mascara, a volumizing formula with a breakthrough brush design, one that grabs onto even the shortest lashes in very few strokes. Fabulash marks the company’s first foray into the everyday mascara business. It will be available in three shades — black, brown and dark black — and will employ premium packaging. A waterproof version is expected for the second half. Fabulash will retail for $6.99 and will be in stores in January.
Then there’s Revlon’s ColorStay 12-Hour Eye Shadow, available in 10 quad offerings and six singles stockkeeping units. Each contains two brushes, one that’s narrow for lining and one that’s thick for full coverage. Formulas have been designed to stay on all day without creasing. The new shadows will be merchandised on cards and will replace Revlon’s Wet/Dry shadows. The 12 Hour shadows will retail for $4.29 per single and $6.99 per quad.
Most of Revlon’s remaining product introductions are in the form of reformulations of existing brands and new packaging. For example, Super Lustrous Lipstick will get a facelift, with increased branding and a see-through top — an industry first — allowing consumers to see the lipstick’s shade without opening the tube. The lipsticks will also sport a locked barrel when caps are engaged, to avoid smashed tips — another industry first. An improved, silkier, moisturizing formula with 30 new shades will round out the brand’s 72 shade count, making it the industry’s largest.
New shades have been designed to better appeal to Hispanics, teens, Asians and African-Americans. “[In the past] we tended to err toward the darker shades. This is more balanced,” said Stephanie Klein Peponis, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Revlon, from the company’s Manhattan headquarters located at 237 Park Avenue. In light of the packaging changes, Super Lustrous lipstick prices will increase to $7.99 from $6.99. Super Lustrous Lip Gloss’ packaging will also be upgraded. Both will be in stores in January.
Eight new sheers will join Revlon’s ColorStay Overtime lip range, a long-wearing, two-step lip color, marking the industry’s first long-wearing sheer lip shades. Some shuffling of existing lip products will make room for the new sku’s. They will retail for $9.99 for in-store presence in January.
Revlon’s Nail Enamel products have been repackaged and reformulated for a smoother, salon finish. Sixteen shades will be added as well. They will retail for $4.79 and begin appearing in stores in April.
Paul Murphy, executive vice president of North American sales at Revlon, assured that the company has markdowns in place to help sell through existing product. With that set, retailers are optimistic about the new offerings, including Valerie Cheyney, the cosmetics buyer at Happy Harry’s.
“I think it’s great that Revlon is willing to spend money on its core business, and give its brands a facelift,” said Cheyney. She added, however, that her concern at this time is that some of Revlon’s new sku’s, such as the nail shades, don’t have new UPC codes, making marking down existing nail shades difficult.
But new products are just one part of Revlon’s strategy to drive consumers to its brand. In April, Revlon’s atmospheric Bellissimo TV ad campaign began airing, one that aimed to appeal to the emotional side of the cosmetics business, rather than focusing on product benefits. The ad’s romantic mood plays more like a dreamy film and capitalizes on Revlon’s stable of actress/spokesmodels, including Halle Berry, Julianne Moore and Eva Mendez. Revlon declined to comment, but industry sources said the TV and print campaign cost between $80 million and $100 million for the year, excluding model fees, an amount that’s slightly higher than last year’s.
“By nature [cosmetics] is an emotional category. We saw a gap and an opportunity in how mass was talking to consumers,” Peponis said.
The campaign’s emotional connection is what has generated positive consumer feedback, according to data from Harris Interactive Inc. Bellissimo has helped Revlon “move significantly on all of the important attributes — purchase intent, brand affiliation, brand personality,” Peponis said, adding that Revlon’s base business has been positively impacted by the ads, too. “We are getting people to our wall based on our advertising and that is compelling.”
Revlon is also looking to new celebrity spokeswomen to capture consumers. Susan Sarandon, 57, has been signed to appeal to Revlon’s more mature customer, and will appear in ads in January promoting Age Defying, a line of foundations and concealers, as well as other brands. Kate Bosworth, 23, has been tapped to promote Fabulash, as well as several other Revlon brands. Revlon will not move forward with spokeswoman James King.
Perhaps more importantly, Revlon has been working to get onto retailers’ timetables. Mass retailers, who have nine-month lead times, require cosmetics companies to present new product and merchandising plans so that planograms can be laid out in advance. Historically, Revlon was not on those timetables. “We tended to be late,” Peponis said.
But beginning in the fourth quarter, Revlon plans to be in sync at retail, meaning displays will reflect what is in-store. This holiday’s promotional campaign, complete with in-store displays, TV and print advertising, has been dubbed Get Reddy!, which will tie in with a promotional color collection of reds, golds and silvers. Get Gifted!, another tag line, will promote Revlon’s products as great gifts.
Revlon is also looking to make the shopping experience a bit easier by removing its lipsticks from universal components in stores such as Target to a more open-sell environment.
Licensed specialty bath products, which are sold exclusively in Walgreens and Target, are also planned for the fourth quarter, including Scentsuous and Innoscent, their two bath fragrances. They will retail for $9.99.
While Revlon still faces an uphill battle in a slipping category — sales are down 1.5 percent — it realizes that the opportunity is still there to provide a more compelling value proposition.
Peponis said while the lack of product newness for 2004 was strategic, she maintained the company is well poised for innovation and newness beyond 2005. “We are deep into 2006 and we are having conversations about 2007,” she said.
But that doesn’t mean 2004 has been a bust. Super Lustrous Lip Gloss, which entered the market this year, is the number four best-selling new product to date, Peponis said. And at least one of Revlon’s businesses is outperforming the category. Sales of Revlon’s eye products, according to Information Resources, jumped 6.1 percent to $81.8 million, for the 52-week period ended June 13. However, nail and lipstick sales have not fared as well. Nail polish sales fell 2.2 percent, though the overall category fell 5.2 percent, and lip color sales fell 5.6 percent, while the category fell 7.5 percent.
Revlon president and chief executive officer Jack Stahl told investors during a second-quarter conference call Aug. 3 that he believes the company strengthened its balance sheet during the quarter, despite widening losses, and he predicted stronger growth in the fourth quarter as new 2005 products roll out in December.
“Our 2004 lineup was not developed with a benefit of our new product development process and the level of consumer insight that we now have,” Stahl said. “We are doing robust consumer research and we are connecting it now to the technology that we have in-house inside of our research and development labs.”
— With contributions from Molly Prior