NEW YORK — Townley Cosmetics hopes Hilary Duff has the right stuff.
Star of the Disney hit TV show, "Lizzie McGuire," as well as movies such as "Agent Cody Banks," Duff will be the face on a line of new cosmetics targeted at tween and teen girls.
Called Stuff by Hilary Duff, the beauty products are expected to hit specialty and mass stores just in time for back-to-school and the fourth-quarter holiday season.
Duff’s image is not only on the packages, but the 15-year-old star has input into the colors and packaging, according to Abie Safdieh, president of Townley. The beauty products are part of a larger licensing campaign encompassing apparel, accessories, bedding and footwear also called Stuff by Hilary Duff. The full array of products will be available for spring 2004.
Townley officials would not comment, but industry sources believe the beauty line could hit at least $20 million in retail sales.
Although Duff is best known for her role as Lizzie McGuire, she has branched into movies and music. "Agent Cody Banks" is currently one of the top-10 films in America and the Lizzie McGuire flick debuts next month. She’s filming a remake of the movie "Cheaper by the Dozen" with Steve Martin, as well as a "Cinderella" movie. She’s also a recording artist with a successful single called "I Can’t Wait" and a CD set for release in September. To top it off, she was first discovered for her dancing ability.
Maggie Dumais, senior vice president of licensing for the Bravado Music Group, which handles the licensing deals, said Duff’s talents across many platforms makes her a sure bet. "She’s a quadruple success because she can dance, sing, act and design fashion," said Dumais who added that Duff would have impact on all of the items bearing her name.
Right now, Duff is one of the most popular personalities with tweens and teens. At first, mostly associated as "the girl on ‘Lizzie McGuire,’" the theatrical releases have put the name Hilary Duff on young girls’ lips. "She is also mom approved," said Dumais. "She’s a normal kid — a gorgeous normal kid."Beth Klinck, a mom in suburban New Jersey, agreed that Duff sends a better image than some of the other young celebrities. "What I like about her is that she’s not rail thin like some of the kids and she seems approachable," said Klinck, a mother of 9- and 12-year-old daughters.
Safdieh wants to translate that girl-next-door image into the beauty line. Although Townley is known for dusting girls across America with glitter, Stuff by Hilary Duff is a more sophisticated line with a "softer" palette. It includes lip, nail, eye and body products and will retail for less than $4 an item. All are fragranced and flavored.
The packaging — which will be recyclable as per Duff’s mandate — is pink metallic and features a logo she created for all the merchandise bearing her name. The colors are mostly in the pink family, but include a range for all complexions and tastes. The products go beyond the traditional glosses and body glitters offered by most tween or teen lines. "These are real cosmetics," said Safdieh.
Duff isn’t the first young celebrity to be behind a beauty line. Debbie Gibson hawked a fragrance in the Eighties called Electric Youth, Christina Aguilera was signed by Fetish for cosmetics and there were products based on the hit, "Beverly Hills 90210." Wal-Mart has perhaps had the most success with celebrity teen beauty with its Mary-Kate and Ashley collection which encompasses makeup and fashion.
Many of the other properties were quick hits with no longevity or never got off the ground at all. However, the recent spate of celebrity successes such as J.Lo’s Glow makes the path a bit smoother for Duff. And, although most young girls know Duff, she’s managed to avoid overexposure. To keep it fresh, Townley plans to inject new items, flavors and colors frequently.
"She has legs and this isn’t really a celebrity-endorsed line; this is a brand," added Dumais. Safdieh also believes Duff’s commitment to the brand will extend its shelf life. It is planned that she will write beauty tips that will appear in her own handwriting on the packages. There also will be a collectible of some type featured on the package. The entire Stuff by Hilary Duff franchise will have a treasure hunt with prizes scattered throughout all of the licenses, said Dumais. Duff also is a great role model through her work with Kids for a Cause, a charity for underprivileged children.The Hilary Duff license is not the first of this type for Townley. The company has the beauty rights to Hello Kitty, Strawberry Shortcake and Powerpuff Girls. The company also has products selling in specialty stores appealing to the same age as Stuff. "We selected Townley because they really know this audience. They aren’t an adult cosmetics company trying to make [products] for kids," said Dumais.
Promotional tie-ins with radio and magazines are planned. Safdieh also hopes to have a sampling program and a consumer sweepstakes for a chance to meet Duff. Stuff by Hilary Duff will be promoted on Duff’s own Web site, which eventually will feature e-commerce, and Townley’s site.
Marketing to tweens and teens has been a goal of mass market retailers for the past five years. Bonne Bell has always been a mainstay of young beauty, but it has been joined by Jane, Caboodles, Candy Corner and other marketers vying for the $155 billion young customers are said to spend. Despite the efforts of these brands, tween and teen shoppers remain fickle — changing from one brand to the next in warp speed. Most girls also prefer the mall to the local drug or discount store. Safdieh hopes Stuff by Hilary Duff finally becomes a brand that builds loyalty.
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