NEW YORK — Prestige beauty marketer Elizabeth Arden has broken through beauty’s imaginary class barrier and proudly created a brand for the skin care aisles of Wal-Mart.

As first confirmed in these pages last week, the maker of department store cosmetics, skin care and fragrance has designed a basic skin care regimen as a Wal-Mart exclusive. Skinsimple, an eight stockkeeping unit collection will be in-store by March with suggested price tags ranging from $7.38 for a cleanser to $11.48 for moisturizers to $13.48 for an antiwrinkle treatment. There is also a starter or travel kit containing four items for $9.84.

Scott Beattie, chairman and chief executive officer of Arden, suggested making a skin care line specifically for Wal-Mart is an opportunity too good to pass by due to the “sheer size of the business.” Wal-Mart, noted Beattie, has a $17.5 billion global beauty business and sells at least one product to 80 percent of all Americans each year. Most beauty vendors serving Wal-Mart say sales with the Bentonville discounter can account for between 20 to 40 percent of their respective businesses.

“We took our R&D and skin care expertise and created a simple, fun, sophisticated and affordable line for a broad-based customer,” declared Beattie. He likened Arden’s extension into mass market skin care to the successful model of L’Oréal, which manufacturers and markets beauty brands across prestige, mass and specialty arenas.

Beattie noted that Skinsimple could be made available to other retailers, but there are no plans to do so. Ronald Rolleston, executive vice president, global marketing at Arden, stressed, “We are creating a brand here — a controlled brand made by Elizabeth Arden.” As such, the Arden name will boldly appear on the back of Skinsimple packaging. In a similar move, Estée Lauder announced last month it would create beauty products exclusively for Kohl’s, however, those items will not bear the Lauder name.

Arden has been developing a relationship with Wal-Mart for several years through its fragrance distribution division, which handles numerous prestige scents for mass market retailers. Arden plans to support the launch with a $4.5 million print advertising campaign that breaks in late March. The first ads feature a red Chinese food takeout carton with the slogan, “Skin Care To Go,” and will appear in five or six magazines yet to be determined.There is also a drop of a million samples via a newspaper program in 25 markets and in-store testers with materials that lay out what products should be used when and for what, noted Greg Griffin, director of trade marketing, mass at Arden.

Additionally, New York University Medical Center dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale has been tapped as a spokesperson. She will make in-store visits in areas expected to become the brand’s top five markets — San Diego, Los Angeles, southern Florida, Chicago and Houston. The products will roll out simultaneously to 2,200 Wal-Mart doors in the U.S. International expansion is not a part of the plan for now. Sources predict retail sales of $25 million to $35 million the first year. Wal-Mart executives did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Dara Kennedy, marketing manager for Skinsimple, said the lineup was intended to appeal to women and men who are “busy, confident and modern.” The products, in white components with black and red trim, have fun names, such as Efficiency Expert, a 2-in-1 cleanser-toner featuring rosemary and sage extracts; Quench Your Thirst, a day moisturizer with SPF15, algae and vitamins C and E; Beauty Sleep, a night moisturizer with vitamins A, E and pro-vitamin B5; Unplugged, a pore refining mask with beta hydroxy acids; Poof, an eye gel with calendula and chamomile extracts; Rise and Shine Radiance Booster featuring vitamin C, grapeseed and mulberry extracts; Eye Priority eye cream, and Time Machine, a line-reducing complex with vitamins A, C and E. “We are really focused on selling the regimen,” commented Beattie.

“The Arden skin care will do well in Wal-Mart,” predicted industry consultant Allan Mottus. “The traffic is there and they already sell tons of [Olay’s] Regenerist and other skin care. The customer obviously understands skin care.”

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