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YSL Beauté Aims to Build Share With New Offerings

YSL Beauté will launch lip range Gloss Pur lip glosses, among other products.

Even in a tough economy, YSL Beaute is determined to give the high-end beauty market a little lip this month — with the launch of Gloss Pur lip gloss, its newest lip range. And the brand doesn’t plan to stop at the lips.

“We have seen double-digit growth in lip products and with fragrances, such as our L’Homme, even in this tough economy,” said Marc Rey, chief executive officer and managing director of YSL Beauté in the U.S. “Certainly, the economy is very tough and getting more so, and nobody is immune. But globally, we had a very good 2008 and were very positive in growth. According to NPD, we were up 5 percent globally, and the market was down 6.4 percent.” Those figures do not include the brand’s sales on QVC and in certain retailers who don’t participate in NPD, such as Neiman Marcus and certain online vendors, he noted.

“We have a strong pipeline of innovation for this coming year, of which Gloss Pur is the first,” continued Rey. “It is our aim this year to get market share, to do clever initiatives with our specialty store partners and look for ways to attract new customers. We are sticking to our values: no compromise with innovation or quality, and maintaining a high level of investment. We are choosing our battles.”

The gloss launch follows what the company described as the successful September launch of Rouge Volupté lipstick. “Rouge Volupté, in particular, has been a standout for us,” said Rey. “The texture is amazing, the case is very luxurious — it has very high perceived value, and although it is not cheap, it is selling very well. Our customer might not buy three lipsticks at once, but she will still buy one — because for $34 [for Rouge Volupté] she can still have that luxury.”

And Rey is hoping consumers will have the same reaction to Gloss Pur, which is a new variation on the brand’s top-selling Golden Gloss. While Golden Gloss includes 24-karat gold flecks, Gloss Pur, rolling out now, provides more of a glaze. Six shades are offered, ranging from a sheer nude shade to a plum hue; each is lightly scented with mango. Each retails for $29 and, like all of YSL’s color cosmetics, is available in the brand’s approximately 300 Beauté doors in the U.S.

YSL Beauté launched a limited edition Gloss Pur in black — showcased on models in the house’s ready-to-wear show for fall-winter 2008 — which sparked a boom of black lip shades in the market this past fall.

While Rey is all for gaining new customers, he isn’t aiming to drastically increase the number of doors in the U.S. — although 30 Sephora locations were added to the brand’s door count last September. “We chose to add selected Sephora doors because Sephora tends to attract a different consumer than a Neiman Marcus or a Saks Fifth Avenue; it will not cannibalize our business in those doors, but will bring the products to someone new,” he said. “We are also working closely with our specialty store doors to do clever initiatives with them.”

It’s been a busy year for YSL Beauté, which L’Oréal acquired from PPR in May 2008 for 1.15 billion euros. In that deal, L’Oréal also gained the licenses for the Stella McCartney, Oscar de la Renta, Boucheron and Ermenegildo Zegna beauty brands.

Renaud de Lesquen, president of YSL Beauté globally, hinted to WWD in October that the YSL Beauté team hopes to launch a new skin care line by 2010 and an organic fragrance for Stella McCartney. “To me, YSL Beauté is a brand of surprises,” de Lesquen said at that time. “Daring is the founding cornerstone of the YSL brand.”

As for worries about the economy, de Lesquen called the situation “a new adventure.”

“Everyone is conscious of the difficulties, but everyone is determined and very excited. We won’t let the gray environment pull us down,” he said.