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Pupa: Serious About Spain

MADRID — Italian beauty brand Pupa is gearing up to blitz the Spanish market with a reenergized game plan that includes an eventual rollout to 1,200 doors and upgraded first-year sales projections. <br><br>"At one time, we hoped to generate 4...

MADRID — Italian beauty brand Pupa is gearing up to blitz the Spanish market with a reenergized game plan that includes an eventual rollout to 1,200 doors and upgraded first-year sales projections.

“At one time, we hoped to generate 4 million to 5 million euros [$4.3 million to $5.3 million] at wholesale but we’ve revised that figure to 6 million euros [$6.4 million],” said Celia Crespo, marketing director of Pupa Cosmeticos España, a division of Italy’s Micys group.

Why the upgrade? “The Spanish customer is savvy; she’s responsive to change,” continued Crespo.

“She is looking for new, innovative products and she knows what she wants. Each element in the seasonal collections is re-invented, including color mixes, product formula, packaging. We want customers to have fun.”

Pupa, which means “little doll” in Italian, has dabbled in the Spanish market for 18 years, she said. “We had a small distributor in Spain with limited points of sale and no promotions,” said Crespo. “We waited until the end of his contract before establishing a Spanish branch in February 2002.”

By October 2002, Pupa had rolled out its makeup, beauty kits and fragrances to 480 doors and then added 170 doors by year’s end. “So 1,200 doors by 2008 is not an unreasonable goal,” Crespo said.

Regional distribution targets self-service perfumeries and Spain’s only department store chain, El Corte Inglés, in major cities and tourist areas such as the Balearic and Canary Islands. “We’ve only just started in El Corte Inglés with 10 units so far in Madrid; it’s a slow process,” Crespo admitted.

According to a spokeswoman for El Corte Inglés’ flagship on Paseo de la Castellana here, the brand and its “non-conventional beauty” tag line is a stand-out performer. “Sales are amazing. Customers are attracted to the products’ innovative packaging and contents,” she explained, indicating a grouping of swirled eye shadows in the shape of a yo-yo. “So far we have all ages [buying the line], including mothers and their 14-year-old daughters who are just beginning to wear makeup.”

And that’s just the way Pupa principals want it. “Makeup is our main product focus in Spain,” said Crespo. “We’re aiming for the same ranking here as we have in Italy — number two [behind Lancôme] — and we plan to get there in about seven years,” Crespo added. Core items include a line of basics, from foundation and powder to mascara, shadow and lipstick, at competitive retail price points of $12.93 to $21.56. All figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange rates.

The seasonal collections feature 15 to 20 novelty products priced 10 to 15 percent lower than the basic line, said Crespo. For example, the winter collection called “Lights” is based on glittery microcrystals for nighttime and party dressing in stark shades of black, gray, silver, ivory and white. “It’s a sophisticated range that creates an effect of light on the face and body,” she said. Average retail price is $11.86. Upcoming spring items, such as Desert Bronzing Powder or “sunlight incarcerated in a compact,” have a suggested retail of $17.25.

Makeup represents 30 percent of the product mix, with beauty kits and fragrances about 33 percent each. The beauty kits, a 25-year-old company mainstay, include a 59-stockkeeping-unit assortment with special effects and themes such as makeup in the shape of an ice cream cone, bonbon or teddy bear. Kits retail from $17.25 to $157.37.

This year Pupa plans to introduce a skin care line, “basic products and mainly a complementary range for El Corte Inglés. There won’t be any advertising,” Crespo said.

In addition, the first Spain-launched fragrance has just been presented to the Spanish beauty press in Barcelona, coinciding with the kickoff of the Catalan capital’s international fashion week. Called “J (as in jeans) de Pupa,” the new juice has notes of steamed rice, watery melon, cotton blossoms, ginger and vanilla. Packaging features a removable aluminum container tucked in a raw-edged denim jeans pocket piped in Pupa red. The scent will hit Spanish counters next month at $16.98 and $22.64 for 15 ml. and 30 ml., respectively. Crespo declined to give sales projections. However, industry sources estimated that the fragrance could do $500,000 at retail in its first year in Spain.

Spain’s overall marketing budget for the brand is close to $701,000. “We have a nonconventional approach to advertising, which includes posters that look like magazine covers for countertops and window displays. There will be special holiday campaigns and print ads in fashion-oriented magazines [no celebrity publications] like Elle and Cosmopolitan. We’re constructing an image here. I’m interested in 20-year-olds who will be 25 in five years.”