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NEW YORK — Physicians Formula is exhibiting an interest in history.
This story first appeared in the November 1, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Its creative vice president of marketing, Ingrid Jackel, is accustomed to traveling the world for inspiration for new products. But for its latest collection, set to launch in January, she had to look only as far as the 65-year-old brand’s dusty closets.
“We were cleaning out the offices and looking through the archives,” recalled Jackel, who said she was struck by the quaint and delicate beauty of some of the brand’s earliest items.
There were dusting powders in round pink and white containers and lipsticks in heavyweight gold-toned tubes with swirly white lettering. There was cake mascara and a facial cleansing set, called Three Step Skin Care, containing Cleansing Lotion, Skin Freshener and Moisture Lotion.
Physicians Formula was born in 1937 out of necessity. Dermatologist Dr. Frank Crandall developed beauty formulas for his wife, who suffered from lupus and whose skin was too sensitive to use most commercially available products. Word spread and demand grew.
To recapture the essence of those early years, the brand will introduce the Retro Glow Makeup Collection, a group of colorful powders, shadows, blushes and mascaras and eyeliners. Packaging has been uniquely designed for each product in the line. And Retro Glow will reprise the original Physicians Formula logo, said Jackel.
Physicians Formula tested the waters last year with a face powder with a cameo imprint called Retro Glow, and “it did very well,” said Jackel. “So we thought we should push it a little further.”
For now, there are six shades of eye shadow with names like Timeless Taupe and Vintage Silver. Packaging is in the shape of a cameo locket, and the plastic case will have an antique silver tone. The outer package for all items is a pillowbox-type container with a scalloped edge design. “It looks more upscale and precious,” remarked Jackel.
There are two loose powders in powder puffs in Victoriana and Cleopatra shades. Each is housed in a round cardboard container and priced at $10.95. Retro Glow also contains ultrafine powders in Porceline and Cameo shades. Those will come in round tins that will be engraved. The accompanying puff is “of high quality,” remarked Jackel. Additionally, there are three shades of Illuminating Blush in Vintage Rose, Vintage Toffee and Vintage Mocha for $9.95 each.
The collection is designed to create “a porceline doll makeup look with dramatic eyes and an underplayed lip,” said Jackel.
To build the eyes, Retro Glow offers a mascara with a full brush to create big, thick lashes with one stroke. It comes in a tube that looks like an elixir vial. “We don’t want to have to build the mascara. We want it to have a ‘wow’ effect with one stroke,” said Jackel. There is loose kohl powder eyeliner, which is applied with a foam tip and comes in a metal tube. It comes in three shades, at $5.95 each. “It is gentle and safe for eyes,” said Jackel. There is also a liquid kohl eyeliner in black, bronze and charcoal.
Retro Glow is getting star treatment. Within the Physicians Formula planogram, Retro will be cut in the center and will be segmented by dividers that protrude from the wall. The entire Physicians Formula section will be receiving a new look early next year, as the whole section will be highlighted by strips of multitone silver beads on either side and at the top of the display. “We are working on creating more brand image,” noted Jackel. “It will make the whole planogram more shopable.”
Consumers have already been shopping Physicians Formula. Last year, the brand’s sales grew 59 percent, according to Jackel. Retail sales data from Information Resources Inc. show Physicians Formula is up 30.1 percent to $37.3 million for the year ended Oct. 6, far outpacing the overall industry, which has grown in low single digits. However, IRI figures do not include Wal-Mart.
Sources said Physicians Formula is expected to spend $15 million on advertising next year. Jackel noted that Retro Glow would have a separate print campaign from the rest of the brand. “There will be ads for the classic line and for Retro Glow.”
Retro Glow is expected to bring incremental sales. “I think it has a long potential life. I see this lasting a hundred years,” said Jackel. “There is a broad target market and appeal. The concept is universal. It is feminine, very elegant for mature women.” Teens will like it, she added, “because they can collect all the lockets.”