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Critical Mass: New Products Look to Fill Gaps in Market

With shoppers trickling back to stores with more discretionary dollars, a slew of new and somewhat unconventional items are hitting the market.

Tanee's tan-line corrector.

NEW YORK ­— The beauty industry is filled with quirky ideas that morph into big businesses.

Elizabeth Arden’s Advanced Lip-Fix Cream that stops lipstick from feathering, crackle-finish nail polish, mineral makeup and foam hair color are examples of items that at first blush may have seemed obscure, but created huge sales opportunities.

With shoppers trickling back to stores with more discretionary dollars, a slew of new and somewhat unconventional items are hitting the market. Marketers hope one could be the next nail polish pen or mood lipstick.

When Caboodles made its debut in 1987, retailers didn’t quite get the need for the storage container fashioned from a fishing-tackle box. Consumers did, and Caboodles along with copycat products blossomed into a $200 million business.

Twenty-six years later, InStyle Products hopes to re-create the Caboodles frenzy with a new line of cosmetics bags called The Bumpbag.

“We feel this is something we do well — take a category missing something and make it more relevant,” said Rob Luby, president of InStyle, best known for its alternative designer fragrances.

InStyle’s creative director David Pina said the cosmetics-storage category, once fashion-driven, has become a commodity opening the door for new options. “The inspiration came from pro makeup artists and their organized approach to coordinating their tools,” said Pina of the assortment available in four colors and retailing between $9.99 to $24.99.

Putting a new spin on an existing item is what The Tanee Company has in mind with its Tanee Tanline corrector. Sensing the traditional self-tanner and bronzer market was crowded, company president Jim Adelson looked for a gap in products. “We found many people are worried about tan lines,” he said. In the works for two years, Tanee is a tan-line corrector in a pen form. Harmon and HEB are early customers for Tanee, which retails for $5.99.

Users of at-home hair color are familiar with the problem of removing pigment along the hairline. BluSand, a company known for BleachSafe towels sold at 20,000 salons nationwide, brings a solution with Pro Color Stain Barrier Wipes. The wipes can be used before, as a color barrier, or after, as a remover.

Shown some of the items, a buyer for a drug chain said she never scoffs at products. “If I passed on things I thought were too strange, I wouldn’t sell half of the products in my beauty department.”