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Mass Braces for Competitive Half

NEW YORK — The New Year brings hope, so say mass marketers.<br><br>The lipstick business may be recession proof — or so conventional wisdom goes — but in this weak economic climate, even the mass business, which typically benefits...

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NEW YORK — The New Year brings hope, so say mass marketers.

The lipstick business may be recession proof — or so conventional wisdom goes — but in this weak economic climate, even the mass business, which typically benefits when consumers are more cost conscious, is barely so. Color cosmetics sales are winding up with a meager increase in the low-single digits. And the excitement coming from the hair color and hair care categories is due to the competitive landscape, not sales gains.

Karen Fondu, general manager of Maybelline/Garnier brands, said those properties have weathered the harsh 2002 climate well. Maybelline, she said, remains the best-selling cosmetics brand in the mass market, and has “maintained and strengthened its market share position.” The brand has been running neck and neck for market share leadership with Cover Girl since early 1999. Garnier held steady in the tough hair color category and is gearing up for the 2003 launch of Fructis, which will break the brand into the dollar-rich shampoo and conditioner segment.

Maybelline made inroads in the lip segment with the introduction of Wet Shine, which helped build its overall market share by shoring up an area that had not been a strength. Meanwhile, it boosted its hold on the eye segment with the launch of its latest mascaras — Lash Discovery and Lash Extension — along with Roller Color eye shadow.

Looking ahead, Maybelline will emphasize the lip and foundation categories next year. And it will continue to be a leader in promotional and advertising spending, noted Fondu. “We will increase spending next year. That is a strength for us. We have a leading share of voice and will sustain that in 2003.”

Fondu anticipates an “extremely competitive” environment in early 2003. Speaking about cosmetics, Fondu said: “There will be a lot of strength coming from Maybelline and I think we have seen some strength coming from competitive brands. I have a favorable outlook on next year.”

Revlon, which has been under the industry’s microscope for some time now, may be approaching a market share comeback, although the company is deeper in debt than it was three years ago.

In 2002, Revlon, led by new chief executive officer Jack Stahl, fine-tuned its strategy and began the “process of reenergizing our brands and our business,” remarked Debra Leipman-Yale, executive vice president, Revlon Global. For October, Revlon earned a 18.6 market share, more than two points over the previous year. In November, the brand registered a market share of 18.2, also up some two points. “We had been seeing shares in the high 15s and low 16s. We are beginning to show significant growth,” said Leipman-Yale.

This story first appeared in the December 13, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

She attributes the growth to “more and better marketing, which reflects our focus on 360-degree brand experience. It is also driven by the performance of our new products,” such as Lip Glide, Lash Tint and Skinlights.

“When we think about next year, we think about continuing to reenergize our brand and beginning to show meaningful growth. We are also focused on the enhancement of our relationship with trade partners and consumers,” said Leipman-Yale. Efforts will stay behind the reinvention of the ColorStay brand and across all four major cosmetics segments,she noted, adding that Revlon intends to outpace market growth.

Marc Pritchard, vice president, global cosmetics and personal care at Procter & Gamble, remarked that Cover Girl has experienced nine consecutive quarters of growth and that Max Factor has been on the upswing for the past 18 months. Buoyed by the launch of AquaSmooth foundation and Outlast lip color in new pearl shades, Cover Girl, he said, is expected to continue to grow. Cover Girl is also preparing its biggest mascara launch in years with Multiplying mascara, a lash-building product, and has revamped its eye shadow collection with a new formula and updated shade range. Additionally, another face product is expected to be revealed shortly.

For Max Factor, efforts will be behind the new Stretch & Separate mascara and the Lipfinity Lustres lip color collection. Sticking with its movie-makeup image, Max Factor is staging a tie-in promotion with the new Miramax film “Chicago.”

About the cosmetics category in general, Pritchard expects “face and lips” to remain “hot segments” as we move into 2003, along with renewed interest in eyes.

Carol Hamilton, president and general manager, L’Orèal Paris, is bullish for the first half of 2003 “due to all the innovative new products that we are bringing into the categories. We believe this will not only grow our market share but the categories themselves and keep consumers into mass.”

Thomas Winarick, executive vice president of Prestige Cosmetics, is expecting a good year in 2003. The brand’s latest score is the addition of 3-foot endcaps in 1,600 CVS stores. With price points lower than category leaders Maybelline and Cover Girl, Prestige has been finding increased interest from retailers. “We are still very conscious of the price points and promotional activities,” said Winarick. “In everyday pricing, we are very, very cognizant of where we price things.”

Prestige has also diversified, and today, the “heart and soul of the line is color,” said Winarick. Its lip business has played a key role in its growth, with items like VinylWear gloss and Jet Stream gloss. Next year, Lip Concentrate, a dual-ended, long-wearing lip color, will come out with a $5.95 retail, almost half the price of market leaders Cover Girl Outlast and Max Factor Lipfinity.

And marketers say that retailers, in order to jump-start sales, continue to seek more promotions against basic stock items.

William McMenemy, executive vice president of marketing at Del Labs, whose brands sales have far outpaced the market this year, expects total industry growth in the first half of 2003 to be “similar to this year, which is a little on the sluggish side.”

Generally, McMenemy thinks the mass market “did fairly well” and is in a good position for a healthy future. “If you look at [the mass market] brand by brand, some companies did quite well and others struggled, but not necessarily due to the economy.”

Del’s big news next year is its expansion of Sally Hansen into a full cosmetics line with an emphasis on face products. Called Sally Hansen Healing Beauty, sources predict the line could become a $100 million business.

Bill George, senior vice president of sales at Markwins, remarked: “Although Christmas looked good for us, I’m especially enthused about the first half of 2003. Retailers are loosening up spending and getting aggressive for the new year.”

Ernie Lippmann, vice president, sales and marketing for Caboodles, said: “I think everyone held their breath for 2002, but ordering is up for 2003. We have some very innovative items and that may have helped.”

Hair care and hair color is poised to receive an injection of new products, fueling the already competitive landscape.

Rob Matteucci, president of Clairol’s hair color business, expects a healthy first half in 2003. “We built a base of innovation in the last half of 2002 and we expect our business to grow in the face of an intensive competitive environment,” said Matteucci. Hair color sales, Matteucci predicts, will be driven by product innovation and promotional activity coming from all hair color players.

Howard Bernick, ceo of Alberto-Culver, agrees with Matteucci. “I think it will be very competitive with the new introductions, a little more with hair care, with the new Dove line and the other items that are scheduled. We are poised very well for the first half and we continue to exceed growth in the hair care and skin care markets, and most, if not all, of the recent IRI periods.”

Brad Kirk, vice president of marketing and strategic planning for Andrew Jergens, sees the impact of globalization hitting the U.S. mass market in 2003. “Globalization is forcing first-world marketers to recognize that not all of the world can afford products at mid-to-premium prices. They are being forced to play the value card.” Kirk’s comment rings true with the news that Procter & Gamble is relaunching Daily Defense as a value brand, and that Suave has launched a 13-stockkeeping-unit hair care line for men.

The biggest opportunity Kirk sees in 2003 will come from “well-conceived and well-supported brands that leverage next-generation technology. Moisturizers that reduce hair growth, lotions that add shimmer,” are some of his examples. Kirk said that the biggest thing the hair care market can expect from Frieda in 2003 is that “we are dramatically increasing the marketing budget via cost savings in purchasing and other operational areas.” Good thing, since Kirk, who, prior to joining Jergens, built a 22-year career in the hair care business, sees 2003 “as the most competitive year ever in daily hair care.”

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