Byline: Jenny B. Fine

NEW YORK -- After setting the mass market on fire, the transfer-proof cosmetics phenomenon is spreading to department stores. The first spark on the prestige front was set off last year by Shiseido's Staying Power Lipstick, which increased that company's lipstick sales by 60 percent, according to Hank Pohl, vice president of marketing.
According to industry estimates, the new lipstick chalked up retail sales of $4.6 million last year, a respectable slice of Shiseido's $110 million U.S. total.
Now, the major players in the prestige market are joining in a rush with their own versions of long-wearing, transfer-proof lipsticks. First up was LancOme, which introduced Rouge Idole lipstick late last month. EstAe Lauder's version, Indelible Lipstick, will bow in December, while Elizabeth Arden's Exceptional Lipstick is scheduled for a January introduction.
These will be joined by new long-lasting lipsticks by Clinique and Yves Saint Laurent that are starting to hit shelves now.
Vendors hope the transfer-proof lipsticks will achieve what products like Revlon's ColorStay, L'OrAal's Colour Endure and Cover Girl's Continuous Color have done at the mass level: not only give lipstick sales a needed boost, but inaugurate a new category as well.
"The transfer-proof category is going to explode in the prestige market," said Margaret Sharkey, deputy general manager and senior vice president at LancOme. "This is only phase one. There will definitely be an intensification of the category."
Although Sharkey wouldn't specify what products LancOme plans on adding to its transfer-proof category, she did outline the support the company is giving to Rouge Idole, an indication, she said, of its commitment to the category.
In addition to print ads and in-store activity, LancOme will begin airing TV commercials in late October in at least 10 major markets and again during the holiday season.
"We're not going off this category," she said, noting that Rouge Idole is expected to increase LancOme's lipstick business by 20 percent.
She declined to break out dollar figures, but sources estimate that LancOme does as much as $50 million a year in lipstick.
"It's amazing how many people there are who don't shop in the mass market and don't know about the category," Sharkey said.
Nance Dickinson, executive director of makeup marketing at Clinique, agreed.
"Consumers haven't really been asking as much for long wear as expecting every product to be that," she said. "The category has expanded competitively, so it's something you have to consider as you move forward on new products."
Although the assault has just begun, transfer-proof items already seem to be garnering good results. While skin care is usually credited as driving makeup sales, retailers say this season's increases are being generated by cosmetics.
"Color is definitely the locomotive for the business; treatment is doing well, but color is the hot category at the moment," said Barbara Zinn Moore, senior vice president of cosmetics and fragrance at Macy's East. "The new lipsticks give a mature market a new twist, and a new reason for a woman to buy the product."
Federated is seeing high double-digit increases in color cosmetics this season, according to Rita Burke Mangan, senior vice president of cosmetics and fragrance at Federated Merchandising.
"Color overall is very strong for us. We're seeing high double-digit increases, generated in part by new product introductions, like the new lipsticks," she said. "A new lipstick is something women readily buy, whether it's a new shade or new formula."
Transfer-proof lipsticks are also having a positive impact on the bottom line at Belk's, according to John Pollack, vice president and general merchandise manager for cosmetics, hosiery and shoes.
"Consumers are gravitating to these products because they work," he said. "There was some hesitancy on the part of prestige companies to compete. They saw mass [vendors] doing it and they were afraid the difference in price point would be difficult, but it's turned out not to be."
Technological innovations that improve the comfort and wear of transfer-proof lipsticks are cited by vendors as their secret to consumer appeal--as well as the reason it took longer for them to introduce these items than it took their mass counterparts.
"The biggest complaint [with transfer-proof lipsticks] has always been that they were drying and didn't feel comfortable on the lips," said Muriel Gonzalez, senior vice president of marketing at EstAe Lauder USA and Canada.
Her point was echoed by other prestige manufacturers.
"We set out deliberately to achieve a level of satisfaction in that regard," she added, noting that Indelible Lipstick was in development for about two years. "Our research showed that women are looking for something long-lasting, which is also moisturizing and feels comfortable on the lips."
Indelible Lipstick, which will be available in 12 shades for $15 each, contains a microsilicone gel base that Gonzalez said allows the lipstick to set but prevents the formula from completely drying. In addition, it contains a botanical complex including jojoba oil and aloe vera to help protect the lips.
To promote the launch, print ads will break in January magazines and run through spring. In addition, Lauder will distribute about 500,000 miniature samples.
"Lipstick is very much an impulse purchase, so we don't usually have to do a lot of sampling," Gonzalez said, "but this formula is so unique we're going to do so."
Vendors say sampling their new wares helps convince women of a product's superior feel.
"For $16, women expect a lipstick to be comfortable," said Victoria Spelling, vice president of marketing at Elizabeth Arden. She was referring to the retail price of Exceptional Lipstick, which is expected to boost Arden's lip category to about 28 percent of its overall cosmetics business in 1997, a 50 percent increase.
Arden's U.S. cosmetics business is now estimated at $50 million, according to industry sources. That would result in the lip category generating a wholesale volume of at least $14 million in 1997 at the 1996 rate.
Arden will stage a buy-one-get-one-free promotion during the launch period of Exceptional Lipstick, as well as introduce an open-format tester for the product.
According to Arden executives, Exceptional Lipstick contains ceramides, lipids which purport to preserve moisture in the lips and help the color stay in place; the polymer Nylon Six--used in the ink industry--which is said to impart long-lasting shine, and a low wax content that gives the formula a creamy feeling.
The 33-shade line will launch in Arden's full U.S. distribution in early January, along with the new 12-shade range of Lip Definer lip pencils and Crystal Clear Lip Gloss. Called the Lip Story, the introductions mark a continuation of Arden's initiative to help jump-start its cosmetics business.
The same strategy worked for Shiseido last fall, when its Staying Power lipstick helped revitalize the brand at department store counters.
"It brought us back in makeup," said Pohl, noting that about 250,000 Staying Power lipsticks, which retail for $18.50 each, were bought last year. "It's been an incredible catalyst for our name recognition and helped raise us to a new profile we hadn't enjoyed before," he added.

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