REVLON GAINING SHARE IN DRIVE TO CAPTURE NO. 1 COSMETICS SPOT
Byline: Cara Kagan
NEW YORK--Now ranked as the third biggest player in the mass color cosmetics market, Revlon hopes to move to the top spot by the end of 1996. If the past few months of market share increases are any indication, it has already begun its climb. At the start of this year, according to industry sources, Revlon commanded a 15.4 percent share of the $2.2 billion mass color cosmetics market, or $338 million at retail. The company's current year-to-date share is estimated at 16.6 percent, and market observers believe Revlon will finish the year with an annual share average of slightly over 17 percent. Cover Girl, the top player, started the year with about a 24 percent share, or an estimated retail volume of about $528 million. Maybelline, the next in line, had roughly a 17.5 percent share, or about $385 million. According to Kathy Dwyer, executive vice president of marketing, Revlon's share increases are the result of a year-old marketing focus that includes the promotion of existing brands, sampling, new product launches and increased in-store promotion. Stepped-up advertising also helped, Dwyer said, pointing out that this year the company is spending 40 percent more behind its color cosmetics advertising. According to sources, that translates into $30 million to $35 million. Mass market retailers say Revlon's sales have increased this year. One reason: the company overcame a historic weakness. This year, Revlon is following through, unlike years past, and is spending at promised levels. "It's a big ship to turn around. But I think they have won back retail confidence with their new items and because they are spending at the levels they have committed to," said Sheri Ralston, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for Thrifty-PayLess of Wilsonville, Ore. "Their advertising is better and more focused and they are teaching consumers why they should buy Revlon products versus others in the store." "They seem to have a new marketing strategy that may actually work," agreed Carl Lynch, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for I Got It at Gary's of Eagleville, Pa. "They are being much more aggressive in their promoting. They have identified their market much better. I think they used to aim younger than their core user, which I perceive to be over 30." According to Dwyer, the company's first mission of the year was to re-focus its core color cosmetics business. In February, the company promoted its 30-year-old Super Lustrous lipstick through two-page magazine ads that contained coupons for lip, nail and mascara purchases. The ad included a detachable card that was inserted into the magazine and displayed the line's more neutral shades. It was designed to help consumers pick shades while shopping. Fall ads show the matching nail enamels, as well. Revlon reinforced the print effort with a TV campaign that broke in March. Reinstating the company's seasonal color promotions was the next step in re-establishing Revlon's basic business, Dwyer said. It was a practice that was abandoned three years ago. Last spring, the company launched Exotica, a collection of colors for the eyes, lips, cheeks and nails, along with the Revlon Report, a brochure of makeup tips and trends. Sensual Spices, Revlon's autumn effort, will be followed by the Fire & Ice collection for holiday. "Their new color stories are wonderful," said Naomi Germano, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for Harmon Discount Stores of Cedar Grove, N.J. "They are using more sophisticated yet wearable colors and they are actually showing women how to put them all together." Revlon supports the color stories with print ads that run in women's magazines the month the collections are in stores. The ads contain an innovative feature--Products-on-Paper, which are protected samples of the cheek, eye and lip colors on a detachable card. Dwyer noted that the total number of shade and product-on-paper cards will total 38 million this year. "These color stories represent an evolution for Revlon from the way it did color stories in the past," Dwyer said. "We have been striving to make the image more upscale and richer. The shades are also more sophisticated. We are really aiming at our core user whose median age is 38 to 39." Revlon will use its next shade promotion, called Marooned, as a launch platform next spring for a limited- edition fragrance. While the company has not yet made a final decision on the scent's name, the airy, floral fragrance will have a suggested retail price of $14 for a 1.7-oz. spray. Micro-gel samples of the scent will be included in the color story's print advertising that will appear in March. Dwyer said the company expects to bring the spring fragrance back in time for Christmas next year. In an effort to put some substance behind its color business, Revlon launched two products this year with a technological bent--Age Defying face products and ColorStay Lipstick. Age Defying concealers and powders were added to the franchise this month and two other Age Defying items are expected next year. The introductions further fueled Revlon's comeback. "I am pleased with ColorStay and Age Defying is also doing well," said Carol Allman, director of merchandising for Eckerd Corp. of Clearwater, Fla. "These two products are truly bringing something new and beneficial to these categories." "ColorStay has been phenomenal," said Lynch at I Got It at Gary's. "I cannot order it fast enough. It is perceived as an upscale, higher-end lipcolor. The TV ad for it is definitely working. As soon as it broke people were flocking into the store. I suspect that Age Defying will also be a winner." Fragrance, the next piece in the equation, was addressed in August, with the launch of the Fire & Ice women's scent. A men's version began rolling out this month. "Historically, Charlie is the only fragrance that has been linked with Revlon," Dwyer said of the 21-year-old women's scent. "We are committed to making Fire & Ice our signature fragrance." To achieve that aim, Revlon is reportedly investing $20 million in advertising and promotion during the nine-month launch period, which will extend into next year. Initial retail reports put Fire & Ice on plan, Dwyer said. Industry sources estimated that both Fire & Ice scents will generate a total retail volume of around $50 million in the first year. "During the first three weeks Fire & Ice was in my store, we virtually sold out of the smaller size," said PayLess's Ralston. "It is already one of the top three selling scents in the store." "I expect Fire & Ice to be one of the three really big mass launches this Christmas," said Lorraine Coyle, fragrance buyer of K-Mart Corp. "So far it is coming on strong and they have put great advertising behind it." But while retailers acknowledge Revlon's progress in the color cosmetics and fragrance businesses, the company's treatment segment remains problematic. "Revlon has made significant improvements, and when it comes to color and to fragrance, they have done what they said they were going to do and didn't drop the ball," said Harmon's Germano. "But their skin care business is being ignored. In fact, it has been nearly obliterated." Sources estimated that this year Revlon's total skin care business--consisting of four brands--eked out a half-point increase for a 4 percent share of the $700 million mass treatment market. That translates into a total volume of $28 million. Revlon's skin care portfolio consists of four brands: Moon Drops, Eterna, Natural Collagen and Results, an anti-aging line launched last year, aimed at women over 35. Many retailers expressed concern about Revlon's lack of support behind the new Results line. "Results sells very well in my stores in the more affluent neighborhoods," said Marcia Springer, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for Taylor Drug of Louisville, Ky. "If a customer tries it, they like it. But there is a certain amount of education that is required to understand the technology behind the line. I think Revlon needs to do a better job of explaining it to a broader consumer group." "Results had enormous potential," agreed Lynch from I Got It at Gary's. "Revlon just never followed through with the advertising." According to Dwyer, Revlon is gearing up to remedy the situation and is planning to implement a new marketing strategy to spur its brands during the second half of next year. "Historically Revlon has stood for color cosmetics and it has been difficult to translate that credibility into treatment," Dwyer said. "We feel that cosmetics products like Age Defying that have treatment benefits will help us to re-establish our credibility in treatment. "Our short-term goal is for us to be number one in color. Our long-term goal is to be number one in cosmetics," she added. "Obviously that goal cannot be achieved without a viable treatment business."
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