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It’s out of the lab and into the limelight. At least, that’s what the HBA Global Expo’s first New Product Technical Achievement Award is designed to do — give those who toil behind the scenes in research and development some of the face time their marketing counterparts are used to having. Perhaps more importantly, the award recognizes those who bring into being the nuts and bolts of directional consumer products.
Case in point: Procter & Gamble’s R&D team’s creation and adaptation of Permatone, the key ingredient in Cover Girl Outlast All-Day Lipcolor.
Not only is Permatone the “backbone” of Outlast, said Gerald Cantey, lead global scientist for P&G Cosmetics, it’s also the reason Outlast won the New Product Technical Achievement Award. Those recognized this year are Thomas Rabe, principal scientist for Global Color Cosmetics; Lee Ellen Drechsler, section manager for R&D, and Ed Smith, research fellow.
“We are extremely excited about this level of recognition,” said Cantey, who’s known at P&G as the Permatone guru. “The folks in the trenches normally don’t get that type of recognition. Rabe and the others who are able to accept [the award] are ecstatic about it.” Cantey probably won’t be able to attend the dinner/awards ceremony slated for Oct. 14, because of a scheduling conflict, but, “when I think of who the award is for and who the original inventors are,” he says, “they are the ones whose names are listed on the patent for Permatone; they are the ones who deserve to accept it.”
Bob Grayson, who runs a marketing consultant firm called Grayson Associates, based in New York City and San Juan Capistrano, Calif., was instrumental in putting together the voting process. To determine the Technical Achievement Award winner, write-in ballots were completed by a jury of 3,494 technical peers, including members of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists and attendees from the last two Product Development seminars and workshops offered at the Expo.
Outlast tallied the most votes for “best new product” to be introduced between November 2000 and June 2002.
Max Factor Lipfinity — a close cousin of Outlast, as it also uses Permatone for its long-lasting lip color technology — got the nod as co-winner of the Technical Achievement Award. P&G markets both Outlast and Lipfinity.
Rabe is credited as the principal inventor of Permatone, which is described as a complex of pigments and silicone-based polymers that form a mesh adhering to the lip. Rabe created product prototypes — Outlast forerunners — that P&G colleagues, including Cantey, used in their own trials. There are accounts of Cantey, as well as other male and female colleagues, applying the lip color before munching on fried chicken, corn on the cob and Chinese food.
It was all part of the job, acknowledged Cantey, who added that lipsticks with traditional wax- and oil-based formulations can be rubbed off or dissolved by oily foods.
Outlast appears to have lived up to its name — at least in terms of sales. Since its launch in April 2001, through mid-July, Outlast racked up $55 million in retail sales volume in chain drug, mass discount and supermarket outlets, according to data from Information Resources Inc. These figures do not include Wal-Mart, which can account for 20 to 30 percent of sales.
Perhaps more noteworthy is the 6.9 percent share of dollar sales Outlast grabbed for the year ended July 14, putting it atop of the $689 million mass market lip cosmetics category, according to IRI. Behind it was Revlon’s Super Lustrous Lipstick, with a 6.5 percent market share. Cover Girl Outlast, which targets a somewhat younger consumer and is priced a bit lower than Lipfinity at a suggested retail of $9.50, features 34 shades with names like “Ever Red-dy,” “Brazen Raisin” and “Everbloom.”
And the third best-selling lip product? Lipfinity, with a 4.4 percent market share. Lipfinity, which launched in January of last year, topped $40 million in total sales through mid-July, according to IRI. The brand’s 25 shades include names like “Euphoric,” “Radiant” and “Caffeinated” and are priced at $12.75 for retail.
Although the R&D teams behind Outlast and Lipfinity will be the only official winners of the New Product Technical Achievement Award, voters recognized a number of other R&D stars, including those behind P&G’s Crest Whitestrips. Peggy Pernik, section head, product development; Paul Sagel, principle engineer; Lisa Ernst, assistant director, product development, and Shekhar Mitra, general manager, global research and development, P&G Oral Care, were behind the development of the new dental whitening system, which received nearly as many votes as the P&G lip color cousins. Whitestrips were launched last year and come in 56-count boxes retailing for $44.
There were also several honorable mentions, according to Grayson. In addition to cosmetics that claim longevity, voters seemed to admire the brains behind cleansing and freshening cloths.
Pond’s Age Defying Cleansing Towelettes were a favorite, judging by the high number of voter mentions for the Unilever offering, Grayson said. The towelettes were designed by Craig Slavtcheff, director, personal wash; Bob Gott, scientist; Ewa Padlo, scientist, and Dave Canestrari, director, biosciences. The towelettes launched in June 2001, and earlier this year, the Age Defying Towelettes were folded into Pond’s Dramatic Results line. A “vanity case” of 30 towelettes retails for around $7.
Johnson & Johnson Shower to Shower Refreshing Body Cloths were also popular among voters, said Grayson. The cloths, which claim to “refresh and revitalize,” were a collaborative effort led by David Burwell, director of new products, research and development; Katherine Coret, scientist, and Anna Prilutsky, scientist. Launched in May 2001, the cloths are available 30 to a box and retail for $5.99.
Bobby Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner was also among the most highly mentioned products for the award. The six-stockkeeping-unit collection launched in April 2001 and was the brainchild of Bobbi Brown and Gail Boye, executive director, global product development.
While the award may only provide these products’ “true” parents 15-minutes of fame, Grayson is satisfied that the award is serving its purpose. “We arrived at this honor because the marketing side of the business gets all the play — the ad budgets, the models. But what about the guys on the inside? Long-term, it’s what’s on the inside that really counts.”