By  on August 7, 2009

Amidst a glimmer of hope for economic recovery, manufacturers and retailers came to the ECRM-EPPS beauty conferences held in Miami this week ready for fresh ideas.

Charles Bowlus, ECRM’s chief executive officer, said the two beauty shows, namely skin and hair care and cosmetics and fragrance, were productive.

“It was unbelievable,” said Bowlus. “Our business is through the roof. Last year, these shows were weak, but this year we had just about everybody [here].” Buyers said of the two shows the most news came out of the hair and skin portion, with the cosmetics category still lagging in innovation.

Bowlus said some firms that had passed on previous sessions attended this year’s conference, including L’Oréal and top management from Unilever and Johnson & Johnson. From a retail attendance standpoint, the major players were all on-hand, including Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS Pharmacy, although some did condense their time at the conference.

Bowlus said attendance was up 30 percent over last year. In addition to the big chains, the meeting attracted e-tailer; dollar stores, such as 99 Cents Only; military retailers like AAFES, and regional stores, namely Bartell Drugs and Kerr Drug.

“We are having a good ECRM show,” said Michele Sherbet, sales and marketing coordinator for Nature’s Therapy. “The buyers seem happy because they can accomplish more since ECRM is combining categories and they are out of the office less. This is the first time in many years that hair care ECRM is as productive as it used to be years ago.”

What’s more, ECRM is experimenting with on-site line reviews with buyers setting up planograms — in this case ethnic sets — so manufacturers can come to their rooms (versus buyers visiting manufacturers) to review planograms. Some said this could be the “wave of the future” in setting departments.

Meeting with the big chains is always key, but for Sally Hershberger Professional Hair Care, ECRM was also an opportunity to bring the brand’s unique story to smaller chains. “We got to meet with many other chains that are important in this business,” said Lynn Emmolo, ceo for the brand, which had its start in Walgreens and is gaining steam in greater distribution. “For a small company like ours, travel to all of those headquarters is hard,” said Emmolo. Sally Hershberger, the famous name behind the brand, kicked off what could become an annual event with a special demonstration with local girl scouts (see sidebar).

While Hershberger helped spread the word about her line, other hair care marketers took advantage of what appears to be interest in recharging mass hair care. The category has been sinking with sales down 2.4 percent to $6.59 billion for the 52-week period ended July 11 this year for food, drug and mass including Wal-Mart, according to A.C. Nielsen data.

Mass merchants have been challenged by department stores and salons offering more hair care, as well as shoppers trading down to budget brands.

Buyers said they are seeing more spray shampoos à la Psssssst, which allow consumers to freshen hair without shampooing. At Nature’s Therapy, buyers were impressed with a line called Not Your Mother’s, which included items called All Eyes On Me and She’s A Tease. The line takes the brand into teen and young women’s hair care.

The brain behind Redmond — Tom Redmond — is back in action with a line called RenPure Organic, which is now being taken from salons to retail stores.

In skin care, Joey NY is also making the move to mass with a line called Instant Results, which intends to bring the prestige innovator’s problem-solution concepts to stores by the first quarter.

The cosmetics portion of the show was more quiet, although buyers were anxious to hear what the new owners of Jane Cosmetics had to say. Reborn Beauty recently acquired the assets of Jane Cosmetics, including all of the lines, formulations, inventory and other intellectual properties. “I am very excited about the acquisition of Jane,” stated John Matise, ceo of Reborn. “It has a great brand, a wonderful quality product line and a great team in place. Reborn is committed to the Jane brand and looks forward to investing in the future, exciting new product development opportunities and growing distribution.” The company added the core ideals of Jane — innovation, quality and value — are crucial to today’s consumer.

Prestige Cosmetics also showed innovations, such as a new Blackest Black Mascara and My Longest Lashes. Buyers also had interest in a new Hydrating Anti-Aging lipstick formula, said Prestige’s Marc Orlinsky.

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