Kiss Touts Chip-Free Manicure Kits

Kiss launches manicure kits and the first national television campaign for artificial nails since Lee Press On Nails 20 years ago, according to the company.

NEW YORK — With fewer women having the time or money to frequent salons for artificial nails, Kiss Products Inc. sees ample opportunity. The company is launching a French manicure kit that promises new technology and the first national television campaign for artificial nails since Lee Press On Nails 20 years ago, according to Kiss.

This story first appeared in the February 27, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Everlasting French Nail Kit for hands and toes is currently shipping into 24,000 doors, and features a new technology said to be chip-resistant. Thanks to a new manufacturing process, the white part of the nail is molded, rather than airbrushed. Additionally, the thin material makes the nail more flexible to provide greater comfort. Everlasting French Nails is available in flat and regular nail arcs and in 12 sizes for hands. There’s a Real Short length as well as a Medium length, while toenails come in a short length.

A $10 million advertising budget, which includes television, will not only help usher in the new kit, but also will work to convince women, especially those in the 18- to 34-year-old age range, that these aren’t the fake nails of the Eighties. Advertising starts March 31 with print ads, and 15- and 20-second lifestyle television commercials. The spots are intended to reach almost 80 percent of the target audience.

The timing couldn’t be better with the economy taking a bite out of salon visits and retailers expecting to see more do-it-yourself consumers who don’t want to shell out money for expensive salon visits. The price of the kit — only $5.99.

“We want to convince women that these really are new and better nails,” Grace Tallon, vice president of marketing for Kiss. “They are easy to apply thanks to our patented application tabs. We hope to gain new users to the category.” Kiss sold approximately 15 million nail kits in the U.S. last year. And with the artificial nail category and sales of at-home beauty alternatives on the rise, “this figure is close to doubling in 2009,” added Tallon.

Artificial nail care could use the boost. Information Resources Inc. data for the 52-week period, ended Feb. 9, 2009, showed category sales totaling $78.7 million in food, drug and mass stores (excluding Wal-Mart), a decline of almost 5 percent. Tallon said sales have been flat over the past few years and are further hampered by current resetting of departments and a typical seasonal slowdown. She expects that by May, the category should start exhibiting growth. In fact, Tallon hopes to see sales expand in the high-single-digit range, propelled by the launch of the new kit.

Kiss and its major competitor in artificial nails, Pacific World, have had to fight tooth and nail to maintain footage at retail. Chains have pared back artificial nails in favor of other categories with a greater return, such as implements, lashes and accessories. That isn’t exactly a bad thing, however, said Tallon, since it has made the nail firms ensure that all items will be brisk movers. Kiss even weeded out some of its own slow movers to clear more space for the new items.

Among the retailers offering Everlasting French Nail Kit will be Rite Aid, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Ulta and CVS. Many of the stores will feature bold advertising signs at the point of sale that help communicate the benefits of the kit. Kiss also produces two other major artificial nail care lines sold at mass, namely Broadway and Pink by Kiss. Under the Broadway logo are new designs called Fashion Diva, featuring everything from black and navy French manicures to polkadots, argyle and henna designs. Retailers agreed that do-it-yourself beauty is one area they’ll be promoting this spring, particularly in the nail, hair color and skin care categories. “We haven’t seen as big of a slowdown in artificial nails as some and we do a big business with a big department,” said one major chain executive. “With technology like this, we do expect even more users.”