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Lancôme Adds Fuel to Its Fire

As part of its ongoing rejuvenation strategy, the blockbuster brand is set to launch a new line of lipsticks and nail polishes.

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PARIS — As part of its ongoing rejuvenation strategy, blockbuster brand Lancôme is set to launch a new line of lipsticks and nail polishes, called Rouge in Love and Vernis in Love, in mid-February worldwide.

This story first appeared in the December 30, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The introduction follows a bumper-crop year for the L’Oréal-owned brand.

Youcef Nabi, president of Lancôme International, called 2011 “probably the best year for Lancôme in 15 years. It’s doing well everywhere.”

The executive said it’s doing very well in Europe and America, and “fantastically well” in Asia, especially China and Japan.

Génifique is one of the brand’s key pillars, as is Teint Miracle, today Lancôme’s top-selling foundation franchise. It ranks first in France, Asia and Italy and in the top five in the U.S., for example.

Visionnaire, launched in September, is “really a huge success,” said Nabi. “It’s number one in many of the serum markets, but also the antiaging market and sometimes the skin care market.”

Meanwhile, to capture the attention of younger consumers, Lancôme launched products such as Trésor Midnight Rose, fronted by Emma Watson. It’s off to a strong start since its September introduction in France, for instance, where during the first two months the fragrance ranked in the top 10.

Nabi said Trésor Midnight Rose generated a lot of buzz in cyberspace, especially thanks to Watson herself posting information about the project. Prior to the launch of the scent’s TV advertising, six million viewers in Europe saw online films linked to the fragrance.

Also introduced with the younger consumer in mind was Lancôme’s Hypnôse Doll Lashes mascara.

“[It] was really invented to be the mascara of the new generation,” said Nabi. “We really tried to invent a new way of talking about the eye makeup result.”

Michelle Phan, Lancôme’s video makeup artist, was instrumental in that push, with her online how-to look advice.

As another part of the digital strategy, the brand conceived a trailer for the mascara.

“We had something like three million views,” said Nabi.

There was also a downloadable application for Facebook, through which a person’s photo can be transformed into a doll’s image.

“The buzz was huge,” said the executive. “For us, it was a very new way of launching a mascara and launching a fragrance.”

Nabi described digital media as not only a catalyst for bringing another demographic to Lancôme, but also a new trendy edge.

Meanwhile, Watson is the face of the Rouge in Love lipstick line, too. She was photographed by Mario Testino for its ads coming in single and double pages. The digital campaign will begin worldwide on Feb. 13.

With Rouge in Love, “the idea is to make this young generation — that has been a gloss fan — come back to using lipsticks,” said Nabi, who explained Lancôme learned that such women today weren’t using it as much because they couldn’t find colors to fit the looks they had in mind and because the hues in longwearing lipstick generally fade.

“At the same time, they were complaining about the fact that the classical lipsticks were heavy on lips,” said Nabi. “So we invented a formula which is a brand new generation of texture that is at the same time very intense color and six-hour perfect wear.”

The executive described the texture as a thin film that’s imperceptible and doesn’t stick.

“We worked with Emma on the shade range,” continued Nabi.

Rouge in Love, with 24 hues at launch, is divided into three families. Jolis Matins has easy-to-wear colors, such as beiges and pinks, according to the executive. Lipsticks in the Boudoir Time category contain silvery and white sparkles, while those in Tonight Is My Night have the strongest colors and golden sparkles.

“It’s really for the night,” said Nabi.

The lipstick comes in a metallic case decorated with what looks like a ring at its base, stitching on the back (a nod to couture) and writing that appears to be done by hand on a mirrorlike background.

“This new generation spends their time looking at themselves in the mirror,” said Nabi. On Rouge in Love’s ads, Lancôme will launch a new app, called Virtual Mirror.

“You will be able to try all the shades by downloading your picture,” explained the executive. “It’s really you transformed under your eyes.”

Sampling for Rouge in Love is to include cards with lipstick-coated lip impressions that can be kissed to trial the product.

“And, of course, a lipstick doesn’t come without a nail enamel, because it’s the ultimate fashion accessory,” said Nabi.

Lancôme studied the nail polish market and found consumers want ease of use. So the brand opted to come out with a new formula of varnish and a brush allowing for product to be applied in one stroke, said Nabi. The 24 Vernis in Love shades, which range from classic to trendy, will be presented in-store in pairs — a suggested hue for the hands and one for the feet.

“It’s not obligatory to buy them like that,” added the executive.

A small number of shades are to be added to each collection every season.

The lipstick line will replace the Color Fever collection, while the nail polish line takes the place of Le Vernis collection.

Both Rouge in Love and Vernis in Love are due to be launched worldwide in mid-February. In the U.S., the nail polish will have a three-month exclusive at Nordstrom, and the lipstick is to be distributed countrywide. Rouge in Love will cost $25, and the 0.21-oz. nail polish bottle is to be priced at $15.

Lancôme executives would not discuss sales projections, but industry sources estimate the lipstick and nail polish collections together will generate first-year global retail sales of $75 million.

In other Lancôme-related news, Teint Idole Ultra is being relaunched worldwide as Teint Idole Ultra 24 Hours early next year with a new longwearing formula, wider shade range of 50 hues and multiethnic campaign featuring Arlenis Sosa and Hanaa Ben Abdesslem.

 

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