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Critical Mass: McMenemy Looks Ahead

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — With more than 37 years of experience at Del Laboratories, executive vice president of marketing William McMenemy is well qualified to take the pulse of the beauty business.<br><br>McMenemy is especially fired up over his...

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — With more than 37 years of experience at Del Laboratories, executive vice president of marketing William McMenemy is well qualified to take the pulse of the beauty business.

McMenemy is especially fired up over his firm’s extension of the powerful Sally Hansen brand into color cosmetics with the launch of Sally Hansen Healing Beauty (see related story, page 6). Some retailers think the timing could be right since there is real estate available on cosmetics walls, courtesy of the exit of Olay and space cuts from other brands.

Although he admits the beauty business has been through a rough year, he’s optimistic about 2003. WWD sat down with McMenemy to query him on what is working, and what’s not, in mass beauty retailing today.

WWD: Do you see any retailers doing anything unique to improve the ambience of the mass-selling environment?

McMenemy: Unfortunately, I’m not seeing a great deal of innovation in this country. However, I recently visited a new Carrefour (the European hypermart retailer) concept store just outside of Paris. What they’ve done is very impressive and makes an impact without really adding space. They’ve taken all beauty categories — face, skin, health and beauty care, even jewelry and accessories — and put them in one area. There are wood floors and a kiosk area. Although the fixtures are pretty traditional, the look gives more of the image of a department store. It is something worth seeing.

WWD: Is Del Laboratories looking to expand international distribution?

McMenemy: Yes. Europe today is undergoing what the U.S. has gone through — consolidation. The big mass merchants are starting to dominate and we are looking to do more business with these companies.

WWD: What about American retailers’ efforts to push their own fixtures as a method to create a look that is different from competitors?

McMenemy: At Del, we prefer to use our fixtures. We worked very hard on the fixture for Healing Beauty, for example, to make it easy to shop. We like to keep it simple. However, it can work with retailers’ universal fixtures, too. Many retailers who rushed into universal fixtures are finding it isn’t as easy as they thought, and the move has died down some.

At some point, we do hope to create a statement with a total Sally Hansen department bringing all of the products together. That’s down the road a bit right now.

WWD: What do you think about another major retail move over the past years — the rush to add private labels?

McMenemy: I think the real future is in controlled brands, rather than private labels. And, I think it is done best when a retailer turns to an expert to create, market and manufacture the brand. Retailers often find it isn’t easy being the manufacturer, too.

WWD: What’s your prediction for the upcoming holiday season?

McMenemy: I think it will be difficult. I think the strong discounters will do well and I think certain drug chains will do well — others will struggle. I don’t think there’s a big traditional fragrance gift business, but the self-serve fragrances in the packages will do OK. I think it will be a good year for the giftable color cosmetics items. You have to give shoppers innovation, something different, to make them stop and buy.