By  on December 2, 1994

NEW YORK -- Almay is tired of being the girl next door.

For 66 years, the company has positioned itself as a brand that is gentle, hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin. Now it wants to step out and show its more fashionable side.

Next year, the company will seek to broaden its appeal and contemporize its image through several product launches, a new display, a heftier advertising budget and a more playful ad campaign that will feature a new model.

Supermodel Vendela, who has been an Elizabeth Arden model, will now appear in the vast majority of Almay ads, along with the new tag line: "Sensitive yet sensational."

"We think Vendela has the right combination of being fresh and approachable, which is what our existing customers look for, while being beautiful and aspirational enough to hook in new users," said Rosie Albright, executive vice president of the Revlon division.

By "aspirational," Albright was referring to the widely used marketing strategy of picking precisely the right model and presenting the product in a manner that will entice the target customer.

Kathy Lee Gifford will continue to model for Almay's Time-Off products, which are aimed at women over 35.

"Consumer testing has shown us that people think of Almay as a safe brand and, oh yes, it also has nice colors," said Albright. "We would like to reverse this train of thought and be thought of as fashionable first. "After 66 years, we think our hypoallergenic-and-gentle image is firmly established; it is almost a given," she added. "From now on, we are planning to stress our shade selections and technological benefits first, while staying true to our original heritage. This way we will not only update our image for our existing customers but attract new consumers who don't have the same constraints as women with sensitive skin."

While company executives declined to comment on sales and advertising figures, industry sources estimated that next year the company is expecting sales gains of nearly 20 percent, which would give Almay a wholesale volume of $210 million to $216 million.

Almay's advertising support reportedly will be beefed up by as much as 30 percent, which translates to a budget of at least $13 million.New items on Almay's agenda for next year include a revamped lipstick and nail enamel business in March and the April introduction of the Clear Complexion line of foundations and concealers, which will target a younger consumer than Almay's core user, who is around 34. The company will expand its Time-Off line with three new items in May.

All of the new and relaunched items will be distributed throughout Almay's 18,000 mass market doors.

Almay took preliminary steps to jazz up its image last year with several product introductions and through relaunching its eyeshadow business with more contemporary shades and tonier packaging. It also launched the Time-Off line of six treatment and three makeup products aimed at women who are concerned with lines and wrinkles. All of the products contain Gentle Glucose Complex, a sugar-derived ingredient designed to have the same exfoliating and moisturizing benefits as alpha hydroxy acids, without the irritation that has been associated with that category of products.

The company's lip and nail businesses will be updated this spring with souped-up shade ranges that include more natural hues in the brown and nude color families, along with more muted red and plum tones. The packaging has also been redesigned to appear more upscale.

The new lineup will have three lipstick formulations: Lip Opaque, a collection of 10 full-coverage matte lip colors; Color Basics, 28 shades of a long-wearing and moisturizing formula, and Demi-Sheer Lipcolor SPF 15, a nearly sheer formulation with sunscreen in 10 shades.

Each lipstick will carry a suggested retail price of $5.50 per tube.

As part of the overhaul, Almay's lipstick will be merchandised on the Almay wall in a new display that was designed to simplify shade selection.

New features include enlarged lipstick bullets to more clearly demonstrate each shade and a new color-organizational system. For easier shopping, the shades will be grouped horizontally, according to color family, and vertically by shade intensity. The shades are currently merchandised alphabetically.

At present, the company's lipstick business consists of two lines: Color Protective and SPF Lipcolor, both of which will be discontinued.

Almay has also reformulated its Color Protective Nail enamel line, aiming to make it longer-wearing and faster-drying than before. Those are the two attributes most women seek in nail color, according to Jerri Baccus Glover, senior vice president of marketing."According to our consumer testing, women consider nail enamel to be long-wearing if it doesn't chip or wear off in three or four days," she said. "We've designed ours for five-day wear."

The new nail color collection has been renamed Almay Nail Enamel. The suggested retail price will be $3.15 per bottle. The shade selection has been pared to 27 colors from its original 36 with three formulations: Sheer, Creme and Shimmer. Previously, Almay color was sold in only two formulas: Creme and Frost.

The new lip and nail items will be supported in a print campaign that will break in April in 19 women's magazines and run through the rest of the year.

Throughout the second and fourth quarters, the ads will contain a coupon for $1 off the lipstick and 50 cents off the nail enamel.

In a bid for a younger consumer, Almay will introduce the Clear Complexion line of Light and Perfect foundations, concealers and powders in April.

Each of the eight foundation shades and four pressed powders will have a suggested retail price of $6. The two different Acne Blemish Concealers will sell for $4.30 each. There will also be an Acne Spot Medication Cream for $6.

"We felt that the items would have a broader appeal if we targeted a benefit and a skin type rather than a segment of the population so we are not putting the line in younger-looking packaging or giving it a younger-sounding name," said George Thacker, vice president of marketing. "The number-one skin care problem of women aged 12 to 34 is acne blemishes. It is the number-two skin care problem of women 35 to 45. Clear Complexion was created to cater to all of these women rather than just the younger end."

Thacker noted that because the company believes Clear Complexion covers a wide range of ages, Almay will advertise the line in teen and women's fashion magazines in a campaign that will break in April issues.

Clear Complexion, as well as the new lip and nail items will be launched in-store, with a promotion called All About Color.

Almay will erect displays, called end caps, at the end of drugstore aisles to feature the new items and its spring shade promotion -- The New Cool.Signs that match the national ad campaigns that feature Vendela will be posted throughout the store and on the freestanding display. Almay has also designed collateral materials, and a beauty booklet with detailed information on how to select appropriate shades.

"We have found that we can make a lot more noise and excitement in-store through using end caps," Baccus Glover said. "All of the new products will be on the Almay wall. But the end caps certainly help to increase consumer awareness that there is a wall in the first place."

For women primarily worried about wrinkles, Almay is planning to strengthen its positioning in the anti-aging category with three new Time-Off items.

These include a 2-oz. jar of Wrinkle Defense Cream and a jar of 21 Wrinkle Defense Capsules, each with a suggested retail price of $10.95.

Almay is also launching a second foundation under the Time-Off franchise, called Retexturizing Makeup. Each of the eight shades of cream foundation with sun protection will be premium priced at $8.50.

Time-Off's existing Age Smoothing Makeup has a liquid formula and is priced at $6.25.

As with the rest of the Time-Off items, the new products will contain the Gentle Glucose Complex, plus the added enhancement of Micro-Fillers, an ingredient the company claims helps skin to look smoother.

The existing Time-Off line will be advertised on print and TV, starting in January. Print and TV support for the new entries will begin in June and run for a year.

All the new items will be merchandised in a revamped Almay wall, which will start hitting stores in March.

Almay has designed the new display to be more consumer-friendly through incorporating more detailed product information and color-coding to the skin type that is best served through each treatment or foundation item.

"We are making a major investment behind Almay to give it a new look and a new attitude," Albright said. "We have realized that in order to move beyond hypoallergenic we have to get more aggressive in our advertising, in-store and with our new product launches. And that is just what we are doing."

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