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MAC Cosmetics Launching 65 New Nail Shades

The bulk of the initiative will begin rolling out at freestanding MAC stores and at Nordstrom in North America in July.

The offerings in MAC’s permanent nail color collection.

MAC Cosmetics is nailing down a booming category by launching 65 new nail shades intended to double its reach in the category in the coming year.

This story first appeared in the June 22, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The bulk of the initiative, 30 permanent shades ranging from a glittery red called Sparks on Screen to Nocturnelle, a polished ebony, will begin rolling out at freestanding MAC stores and in Nordstrom in North America in July. Department and specialty stores will get the collection in August, and it will be launched internationally in September. Each nail color retails for $16. For those who prefer gels and nail art, MAC’s Glitters and Pigments can be mixed with clear gels. A smaller collection, Fashion Sets — trios of lipstick, Lipglass and nail colors based on best-selling lipstick shades — is rolling out now, as is an online-only Ruffian collection of three press-on nail designs for fingers and toes.

Before this initiative, MAC had occasionally included nail colors in seasonal color collections, but had just eight shades in its permanent collection. “We support hundreds of fashion shows and we were starting to see an increased emphasis on nails over the last few seasons,” said Guillaume Jesel, senior vice president of global marketing for MAC Cosmetics. Quoting NPD Group statistics, he continued, “Also, nails are the fastest-growing segment of U.S. prestige makeup. The category is up 67 percent and is currently a $32 million dollar business in prestige. It is a category that has primarily been in the salon and mass channels in the U.S., so there is tremendous potential in the prestige space. Nail color is an affordable indulgence and women continue to trade up in it.” Jesel sees a big opportunity for the line in France as well. “The French nail business is relatively equal to the U.S. — the market size is currently about $24 million at retail and 6 percent of the [total color cosmetics] business, so there is a lot of opportunity there as well.”

Jesel and other MAC executives declined comment on sales projections, although industry sources estimated that the initiative could double MAC’s nail business to $20 million at retail globally in the next year.

“For in-store, we’ve designed an on-counter as well as freestanding unit to showcase the collection, featuring nail swatches so you can see how the color will look on your nail before buying,” noted James Gager, senior vice president and creative director of MAC. “It’s the perfect customer experience for no-mistake shopping.”

MAC’s artists are looking forward to using the colors backstage, said Keri Blair, senior artist for MAC Cosmetics. “Makeup artistry isn’t just about the face at MAC,” said Blair. “Last February we debuted backstage nail support during New York Fashion Week at six shows. And our momentum will continue this September; here at New York Fashion Week and moving beyond to London, Milan and Paris. It’s an exciting evolution for us as a brand — layering in one more aspect of beauty and bringing a designer’s story to life.”