NEW YORK — Upping the retail price of a cosmetics line by a dollar may not seem like a whole lot. But for Wet ‘n’ Wild, a brand built around 99-cent and $1.99 lipsticks and nail polishes, it is a very big deal. Starting in January, retailer spring resets will contain many products priced at $2.99. The new pricing tier is part of what executives are calling a "brand conversion" that also brings in 78 new stockkeeping units. Wet ‘n’ Wild had tested many of the items and the higher tags in seasonal promotions this fall. A nearly equal number of slower movers have been sliced from the line."It is time for Wet ‘n’ Wild to grow up," said Paula Edell, vice president of creative, for the 22-year-old brand.The brand-building effort behind Wet ‘n’ Wild results from a shift in strategy. AM Cosmetics, parent of Wet ‘n’ Wild, was pulled off the block several weeks ago when its owners failed to find a qualified buyer. Instead, they opted to more aggressively market the business. According to Information Resources Inc., retail sales of Wet ‘n’ Wild slipped 4.2 percent to $70.9 million for the year ended Oct. 6. The figures do not include sales at Wal-Mart.Plans to hire a new chief executive officer are in the works, according to Robert Glendon, currently acting ceo. Stephen Heit, who remains with the company, had served as interim ceo while AM was searching for a buyer. According to Glendon, applicants have been whittled down to a short list and an announcement could come anytime. A new vice president of sales and marketing will be brought in after the ceo is in place.Edell, along with Valerie Wass, director of marketing, oversaw this latest makeover of Wet ‘n’ Wild, the largest brand in the AM portfolio. Many of the concepts were adapted from pricier competitors. There is Mega Glo Face Illuminator, a $2.99 knockoff of Revlon’s $13.95 Skinlights; Wild Shine lipstick, a $1.99 version of Maybelline’s $6.49 Wet Shine, and Mega Last lip color, which compares with Cover Girl’s $11 Outlast lip color. It also claims to be the first manufacturer to bring an eye shadow crayon, akin to one in the Pupa and Body Shop lines, to mass with Mega Eyes Shadow Crayon.The palettes for its core Wet ‘n’ Wild and Crystalic label nail polishes have also been updated. And all new items will carry a pink "New" sticker, to draw shoppers’ attention. With the addition of dozens of products to the core collection, "We want to bring shoppers back to the wall," noted Edell. "The brand was too promotional," said Wass.In order to offer consumers more interesting items, the brand had to go up in price, said the marketers. "Up until a year ago, the intent was not to go beyond $1.99 on the wall," said Edell; "$2.99 is bold for us."

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