NEW YORK — If Suzanne Grayson had her way, every woman in the world would habitually wear makeup, or at the very least, lipstick.

And she means business. Grayson is looking to get consumers pumped up about wearing more cosmetics by spearheading the beauty industry’s first consumer trade show.

Scheduled for mid-September 2004 at Manhattan’s Jacob K. Javits Center is Grayson’s "Olympiad of Beauty and Well-Being." The three-day event looks to generate purchases and awareness of beauty and well-being products to women and teens in a festival-like atmosphere.

Through demonstrations, seminars, makeovers and sampling events, the show will focus on four areas of well-being: beauty and personal care; nutrition and health; fitness and weight management, and personal growth.

"This is not just a makeover show," Grayson explained. "This is an education-driven event."

Grayson’s idea has so far garnered positive feedback from the beauty industry.

According to Grayson, Chanel, Clinique, Clarins, Estée Lauder, Prescriptives and Origins are likely exhibitors for next year’s show. Retailers such as Macy’s are also slated to participate by providing the products to be sold at the show, since most companies don’t sell directly to consumers.

Grayson, an industry consultant who helped found the first cosmetics trade show, Cosmo-Expo, in 1973, continues to pound the pavement in search of exhibitors, sponsors and seminar leaders for her latest endeavor. In addition to pitching beauty manufacturers as possible exhibitors, Grayson is visiting the offices of magazine editors and self-help gurus to pique their interest in teaching some of the exhibition’s 75-plus classes. "I want to bring magazine editorials to life," Grayson said, explaining that consumers can only get so much from a magazine how-to makeover.

An advisory board to keep the show’s mission in-line is also in the works. So far, Sandy Cataldo, senior vice president of emerging markets for Bath & Body Works, and Ellen Abramowitz, publisher of Seventeen magazine, have signed on, Grayson said.

Grayson expects between 200 and 300 cosmetics, hair care and well-being companies to exhibit their wares at the show next year for an estimated crowd of 60,000 women and teens. Companies are being sold exhibition space on the basis of $35 a foot, with the average booth measuring 20-by-30 feet. Each exhibitor is free to demonstrate the company’s message any way it sees fit, which could take the form of a lecture, demonstrations, sampling and makeovers.Grayson, who said she’s such a slave to beauty trends that she confessed to wearing false eyelashes even when she worked from home decades ago, firmly believes that a person’s day revolves around how they look.

"If you look good you will have a good day. If you look in the mirror and feel lousy, you’ll have a lousy day," Grayson said.

While Grayson’s views might make a feminist squirm, her message hits home for manufacturers. Jean Hoehn Zimmerman, executive vice president of sales and marketing, beauté and fragrance, for Chanel, said Grayson’s idea is brilliant and that the consumer exhibition is a much-needed marketing tool for the beauty industry.

"I think it’s a fantastic idea. We need more ideas directed to the consumer these days. I don’t know of any other concept this big or dramatic. The consumer seems to be always hungry for how-to’s and what-to’s and more information," Zimmerman said.

Indeed, Grayson is looking to create some excitement within an industry that in certain categories — such as fragrance —has faced sales challenges over the past few years. But in her opinion, manufacturers are partly to blame for lackluster sales.

"The industry does not do enough to build [product] trial," Grayson said.

A management company to handle the production of the show has yet to be signed, but Grayson said she is currently in negotiations with one chief contender. The show will cost approximately $1 million to produce, Grayson said.

While the management firm will take on the responsibility of selling show floor space, Grayson will retain show advertising and marketing responsibilities. Grayson said it’s too early to divulge an advertising budget, but she is looking forward to calling on The New York Times, American Express and New York magazine for show sponsorships.

Marketing materials, Grayson said, will promote show pre-registration to keep attendance as organized as possible. The price to attend the show for one day will be $15 for pre-registrants, and $25 at the door. Classes will start at $10. There will be special pricing packages for multiple classes.Grayson expects the Olympiad of Beauty and Well-Being to differ from other shows currently offered. There’s Rite Aid’s Health & Beauty Expo and Southern Shows’ regional fairs to consider. But neither offer seminars, retail opportunities nor caters specifically to a female customer. Plus, Grayson added, the Olympiad will give mass beauty companies the opportunity to reach their consumers in a totally different way. She plans to meet with several mass companies in the coming weeks.

"I feel like I am on a crusade," Grayson said.

To access this article, click here to subscribe or to log in.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus