NEW YORK — Almay’s outlook is brightening up.

The Revlon-owned hypoallergenic brand has new management and a new attitude. The first obvious expressions of that are coming soon in the form of the Bright Eyes Color collection featuring a mascara equipped with a dual-sided brush, and Nearly Naked, a foundation in a sponge package — the first in the mass market.

Elizabeth Kenny, who came on board in July from Clairol as senior vice president, portfolio brands, overseeing Almay, StreetWear and Ultima II, has been devoting her time to getting a feel for the Almay consumer.

"We just completed our most serious market research study in 3 to 5 years, to better understand who the consumer is," said Kenny. What the research showed is that Almay has a strong awareness among women as a brand of "good quality" that is "good for the skin." But there is a segment of untapped consumers that the new Almay team, which also includes vice president of marketing Kevin Kells — who came on board after eight years at Unilever and a brief stint at Guinness — wants to tap.

To do that — and also to keep its current user base — the Almay of the future will be a bit more polished and sophisticated, according to Kenny. "We want to reach consumers who want to look great but also are concerned about their skin. We want to build on our heritage, but make the brand uniquely appealing to women of style."

In particular, the brand should be "easy to shop, easy to use and easy to wear," said Kenny. But it also has to be appealing. "We want to be the class of mass."

Starting in February, Almay will also reveal a new advertising campaign that is expected to project a uniform brand message. Kenny declined to talk about the brand’s ad budget, but did say spending would be up "significantly."

For its first-half lineup, Almay’s biggest launch is Bright Eyes. The collection is led by a new mascara that stands apart from others in the market because of its dual-sided brush and a formula which bulks up lashes while delivering intense color and luminescence, according to Julio Russ, senior vice president of research and development for Revlon Inc.The wand has short, dense bristles on one side and longer, softer bristles on the other. The short side grabs the lashes and coats them, while the long bristles lift and separate lashes, said Russ. Almay claims the new mascara "triple lifts" lashes, meaning it lifts lashes up more than 200 percent. Made of a water-based gel formula, the mascara comes in four colors: black, black/brown, black/plum and black/blue, each retailing at $7.50.

To color the eyes, there is Bright Eyes Color Cream Shadow in a tube. Available in Golden Gleam, Pink Glow, Champagne Shimmer, Blue Light, Lilac Lustre and Mocha Shimmer, each is priced at $5.25. Rounding out the collection is Bright Eyes Defining Color Duo Eyeliner at $7.50 a pencil. Packaging for the collection introduces a new look for Almay – metallic lavender and pale green tones. Kenny noted, however, that this look is currently exclusive to Bright Eyes.

In-store displays will carry a pamphlet demonstrating various looks. "It tells women how to apply to achieve bigger, brighter-looking eyes," said Kells. Sources predict the Bright Eyes collection could reap retail sales of $15 million to $20 million in the first year, based on a projected promotional budget of $7 million to $10 million.

Nearly Naked Touch-Pad Liquid Makeup, a lightweight formula with vitamins A and E, botanicals and SPF 12, comes in a twist-off compact. The foundation is immersed in a sponge that is applied with the fingers. It can be applied lightly or built up for more coverage. The carded package is color-matched to the shade and features a window for women to match their skin tones. Priced at $8.95, it comes in six shades.

The new items, slated to be on the wall by March and available via promotional displays starting this month, could help jump-start the brand.

Aside from a sales spike from items like Kinetin skin care and Lip Vitality lip color, Almay’s sales limped along last year. According to Information Resources Inc., its retail sales ended the year up 0.5 percent to $170.7 million. Those figures, however, do not include Wal-Mart, which could account for 20 to 35 percent of a brand’s sales.Kenny and Kells think that Almay will pull ahead this year and could outpace industry growth.

As demonstrated by the Bright Eyes collection, the brand will take a more aggressive stance with color cosmetics, which had been de-emphasized. Kenny also thinks Almay’s new wall unit, currently in 4,500 of its 26,000 doors, will continue to help boost sales. She said sales in stores with the new wall have grown in the high-single to double digits. The look will be added to another 7,000 doors this year.

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