By  on March 1, 2002

NEW YORK -- Revlon is banking on a new lip color, with a spongy applicator tip, to smooth over some of its rough edges.

Jack Stahl, Revlon's newly installed president and chief executive officer, says great brands are created when a company effectively "creates a promise" and then "delivers on that promise." In LipGlide, Revlon is pledging a lip product that delivers high-impact color with the shine of a gloss and coverage of a lipstick.

"This is a top priority for Revlon this year," said Carolyn Holba, vice president of marketing at Revlon. She anticipates Revlon will hit dead-on with its latest lip item. "The lip gloss segment has been really hot and we expect it to continue this year and beyond."

She explained that LipGlide fills a gap in lip gloss market. "There was something missing in lip gloss," said Holba. Consumers told us, "the color aspect was missing."

Continued Holba, "Women didn't want to lose the rich color that they get from traditional lipstick, so we have married those two ideas."

To drive home the color message and reflect Revlon's color heritage, LipGlide tubes are color matched to the lip gloss. There are 20 in all, with names like Nude Slip, Patent Leather Pink and Tangerine Ice. But Revlon marketers expect women will be as interested in its pen-like applicator with the cushion tip as they are in the lip gloss itself. When twisted, the color is pushed through the barrel and emerges in a series of beads from the tip. "You get just the right amount of color and shine," said Holba. "You get really precise application."

The formula contains "ultra-reflective" mini-prisms that interact with light to create "high-impact shine," according to Revlon. The smooth formula doesn't have the "sticky, tacky feel" of other glosses, said Holba. "This glides on extra smooth." Revlon marketers like to say, "It is like patent leather on your lips."

It wears like a traditional lipstick, said Holba, "After a few hours, reapply." A tube is $9.50. It will be in-store in June. The ad campaign is now being created by Revlon's new agency, Deutsch. TV will begin in May, with print ads breaking in July books.Last year, Revlon badly smudged its lipstick business. Absolutely Fabulous, positioned as Revlon's lipstick "for the millennium," didn't match up with consumer desires and sales fell short of expectations. At the same time, Procter and Gamble swooped in with Cover Girl Outlast and Max Factor Lipfinity, longwearing lip colors that drove category growth. While still the industry leader, sales of Revlon lip color fell 17.7 percent to $182 million as Cover Girl grew 45.2 percent to $110 million for the year ended Nov. 4.

The sales dug into Super Lustrous, Revlon's best-selling lipstick. So, for the first time in almost four years, Revlon has begun to advertise it on television. The formula has also been revamped to improve the scent which had been criticized, particularly by young women.

Revlon executives declined to comment on sales projections or spending, but Holba did say that LipGlide is "one of the most heavily supported Revlon products this year." Industry sources estimate the budget at about $10 million and project first-year retail sales could reach $30 million.

In-store displays have been designed to emphasize the color story and explain its attributes -- full color, high shine -- in simple copy. The display will have a sample of the LipGlide's cushion tip applicator for women to touch. The promotional message "will be consistent" across television, in-store and print, she noted. Marketing materials for Absolutely Fabulous were faulted for not clearly stating the product's mission.

"We expect this item to appeal to a wide range of women," said Holba. "When we did research on the product we found it appealed to lipstick and lip gloss users."

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