By  on August 14, 2009

NEW YORK — Executives at Wet ‘n’ Wild know 2010 will be a crucial year for the beauty brand.

With Americans scaling back on beauty purchases, Wet ‘n’ Wild’s value pricing is right in the ballpark, said one buyer, who called it her best-selling entry price brand. And, with other brands facing challenges or edits in footage, Wet ‘n’ Wild can stand to get into more doors or enlarge its footage.

But to do so, Wet ‘n’ Wild has to prove it can play with the big guys and keep up consistent sales growth since it, like other brands, has had its sales peaks and valleys this year, according to another high-placed retailer.

All of these facts aren’t wasted on Shawn Haynes, senior vice president of sales and global development at Markwins Beauty Products. “It is such a tumultuous time in the category,” said Haynes. “Some brands have fallen off; there is consolidation. Retailers are asking us to do more with less.” Chains, he said, are zeroing in on productivity and editing departments to avoid stockkeeping unit duplication.

Sensing that retailers are shrinking merchandise assortments to cull slow movers and reduce overlapping items, Wet ‘n’ Wild did some editing of its own — tossing out sluggish movers and making way for fresh items. Industry sources estimate Wet ‘n’ Wild cut 10 percent of its least productive sku’s.

Since Markwins acquired the 30-year-old Wet ‘n’ Wild in 2003 from AM Cosmetics, the brand has undergone numerous new looks while always maintaining value pricing. The majority of items fall within the 99 cent-to-$2.99 range. “The brand looks nothing like it did seven years ago,” said one buyer.

Haynes believes the latest iteration is the boldest presentation ever, and the 2010 planogram puts Markwins’ most upscale stamp on Wet ‘n’ Wild to date. “We have a whole new planogram that organizes products the way women shop,” said Haynes of the set available in 1-foot increments with a wish list of at least 3 feet. “It is easy for shoppers to navigate the planogram.”

The set is designed with a focus on three franchise categories — Color Icon, Mega Last and Lash Out.

With Color Icon, Wet ‘n’ Wild sets out to be an authority in color with a mixture of several shadow choices such as trios, six pan shadows, blushers and bronzers and eye shadow singles. All eye products feature new packaging and formulas with applicators included. Mega Last is a collection of long-lasting demi-matte lipsticks and cream nail polish. And Lash Out is what Haynes calls a “mascara destination,” with new packaging and education for consumers on how to achieve a desired look. There are volumizers, lengtheners and curling products. Mascaras are now carded to provide the space to show the brush as well as explain the items.

Haynes said the biggest overhaul in Markwins’ time with Wet ‘n’ Wild has been in the face category. While the budget brand wasn’t really a force in face when Markwins bought it, today there’s a full range of face items. “We’ve really pushed the envelope there,” he said. With its low pricing, however, Wet ‘n’ Wild items haven’t nudged into the top 10 sellers at drug chains in the facial category, which is led by Revlon ColorStay. But Markwins has plans to move the needle, including a push on social networks and a marketing message of saving money on a beauty routine without sacrificing quality. Recently the items were featured on “Good Morning America.” “Our year-to-date broadcast media features have reached over 25 million viewers,” Haynes said.

While Wet ‘n’ Wild barrels ahead with its new planogram, one of its subsegments remains under a smaller scope. Beauty Benefits, a line containing Lotus Marine Minerals Complex, remains in select accounts such as Duane Reade and Wal-Mart. While that stays in limited distribution, retailers said Markwins is muscling into new doors, including more channels. A recent visit to a ShopRite in New Jersey, for example, uncovered the addition of the Wet ‘n’ Wild brand to a newly renovated cosmetics department. Haynes is enthusiastic about the holiday season and the future for Wet ‘n’ Wild. “The mood is good so far [for holiday], and we are hitting our goal of elevating this brand,” he said.

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