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Bobbi Brown’s Fall Push: Newness to Drive Growth

NEW YORK —?No one could accuse Bobbi Brown and her team of standing still this fall. <br><br>With a new book, a new skin care line and a new creative director bearing new imagery, the brand is hoping to equal or outpace its 33 percent average...

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NEW YORK —?No one could accuse Bobbi Brown and her team of standing still this fall.

This story first appeared in the August 9, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

With a new book, a new skin care line and a new creative director bearing new imagery, the brand is hoping to equal or outpace its 33 percent average annual growth, said Maureen Case, general manager of the brand. While Case would not comment on sales, industry sources estimate that Brown does about $215 million globally.

The 12-stockkeeping-unit skin care line, an overhaul of the previous Brown skin care line, rolls out in September, although one item — Intensive Skin Supplement — was launched in April. Ranging in price from $18.50 to $50, the line — called, appropriately enough, Bobbi Brown Skin — also includes Eye Makeup Remover, One Step Cleanser/Longwear Makeup Remover, Rich Cream Cleanser, Purifying Gel Cleanser, Exfoliating Cream Wash, Soothing Face Tonic, Protective Face Lotion SPF 15, Hydrating Face Cream, Shine Control Face Gel, Hydrating Eye Cream and Conditioning Hand & Cuticle Balm. “People appreciate the fact that it has an apothecary feel,” noted Case, who added that she expects skin care to account for as much as 20 percent of the total business within three years or less; it currently accounts for 8 to 10 percent. While Case wouldn’t quantify those figures with numbers, industry sources estimated that skin care currently does about $20 million and could do about $45 million within three years.

However, Brown is perhaps most excited about her newest book, Bobbi Brown Beauty Evolution (HarperCollins), which will be published in mid-October. The book, Brown’s third, is intended to be a celebration of beauty across the generations. “This is one of the most important things I’ve done,” she said. “I think it will touch a nerve. Every woman around feels bad about herself and her looks, and that’s not right. We’re in a business that tells people what’s wrong with them —?I want to tell people what’s right with them.” Brown will be doing a satellite book tour as well as in-store events to promote the book.

One of the events, with Neiman Marcus, will involve analyzing pictures brought in by consumers. “We’ll ask women to bring in pictures of themselves when they felt most beautiful, and ask them to tell us what features they found most appealing then,” explained Case. “Then we’ll figure out how to emphasize those positive points.”

Another project on Brown’s plate: Bobbi Brown University, “which should be up and running within the year,” Brown said. “People stop me all the time to say that they want to learn about the beauty business — being a makeup artist, marketing, doing public relations, how to make a lipstick. So we decided to offer classes.” The courses — to be held in Brown’s offices at Broadway and Prince Street — will be open to both professionals and the general public. “We’ll have both day programs and longer programs,” she said. Brown’s already appointed her dean: Lauder group president Dan Brestle.

Brown and Case are also aiming to maximize potential in existing doors. Brown’s products are in more than 400 doors globally — about 230 doors in the U.S., including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, and the remainder in 20 countries worldwide — and there are no plans for a massive expansion. However, selected doors will continue to be added, such as the Long Island-based White’s Pharmacy, which began carrying Brown’s line this fall. “It would be easy to grow by adding a ton of doors,” said Brown. “We’re more interested in expanding our presence in our existing doors and maximizing those doors before we add more.”

Case added that the strategy has proved effective; the 33 percent growth rate the company has averaged over the past several years, she said, has come largely from growth in existing doors. Of the brand’s international markets, Japan, Korea and the U.K. are the strongest, she said.

Packaging and imagery are also undergoing a bit of tweaking. The company has just hired a new creative director-consultant, Stephen Niedzwiecki of New York agency Yard, who is now responsible for developing the global advertising and overall brand image for Brown’s brand. Niedzwiecki, founder of Yard, has also worked on campaigns for Ralph Lauren Polo Jeans, Henri Bendel and Coty. “You’ll see the difference in our imagery starting this fall,” said Case. “It will be more sophisticated, and a bit more evocative rather than utilitarian.”

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