By  on September 30, 2005

NEW YORK — Revlon might be keeping its two biggest innovations for 2006 under lock and key, but the cosmetics company has detailed the balance of its spring lineup, which includes the overhaul of the ColorStay franchise.

During a recent meeting, the company would not comment on the aforementioned initiatives, but retailers have said they include repositioning the Almay brand to make it easier to shop and adding a premium-priced cosmetics line for mature women called Vital Radiance. Revlon president and chief executive officer Jack Stahl hinted at these plans during a third-quarter conference call in August.

Revlon executives might have been mum on the Almay and Vital Radiance front, but they were eager to talk about upcoming changes to the company's flagship brand, Revlon. The company's revamp of the 11-year ColorStay line brings Revlon closer to completing a brand-wide renovation, which began earlier this year with the introduction of refreshed beauty tools, and made-over SuperLustrous and Age Defying franchises.

ColorStay — born in 1994 as ColorStay LipColor — now extends across the lip, face, eye, and nail care categories. Revlon rolled out ColorStay 12-Hour Eyeshadow last spring.

"This franchise has excelled since the day we introduced it," said Carolyn Holba, Revlon's vice president of marketing for color cosmetics and skin and new product development. "If we were to break out all the products that encompass ColorStay, it would be the number seven brand in the marketplace."

Revlon's reintroduction of Age Defying with Botafirm earlier this year fueled the franchise's foundation sales by more than 65 percent to $28.7 million over the 52-week period ended Sept. 4, outpacing flat category growth, according to Information Resources Inc. (which excludes Wal-Mart). The company seeks to do the same for ColorStay with a new range of foundations, pressed powders and concealers.

Each of the reformulated products contain SoftFlex technology, described as a cushioning polymer complex that makes the makeup easier to apply and more comfortable to wear. In the past, women had complained long-wearing formulas imparted an unwanted tightening feeling on the skin, according to Revlon's consumer research. The ColorStay foundations are available in two formulas, Normal/Dry and Combination/Oily, for $12.99 each.To accommodate more women with darker skin tones, Revlon has expanded its shade range from 16 to 20 stockkeeping units. As it did with Age Defying with Botafirm, Revlon has added a lighter formula, ColorStay Active Makeup with SPF 25, and a Blemish Concealer, which contains salicylic acid to treat and stave off acne. Even ColorStay Nail Color, which launched in 2003, got a makeover. Revlon has reduced the two-step system's shade range from 20 colors to 12 "power shades." The new palette of sheers, pinks and reds in pearl and cream finishes will be carded and merchandised in the cosmetics planogram, explained Tracy Vittoria, Revlon's product manager, product development for nail.

"ColorStay has relevance across every single color cosmetics category," said Mimi Rifkin, Revlon's director of brand communication strategy.

To celebrate the change, Revlon has outfitted the ColorStay franchise in new packaging, designed to communicate a prestige look and feel. For example, pressed powder is housed in a matte black, MAC Cosmetics-like compact with the Revlon brand name in white.

Revlon would not comment on sales expectations, but industry sources expect the ColorStay refresh to yield more than $100 million in first-year retail sales.

Eyeing rival L'Oréal's stronghold, mascaras, this spring Revlon will introduce Luxurious Lengths Mascara. The lengthening mascara comes one year after Fabulash Mascara, Revlon's thickening mascara trumpeted by Halle Berry.

"Several years ago, we had a set objective within the company to provide best-in-class mascaras to the marketplace," explained Holba, a 12-year Revlon veteran. "Our goal by the time we reach the end of 2006 is to have two mascaras in the top 10."

Revlon reported that for the month of August, Fabulash was the number five mascara in the mass market.

Luxurious Length — which is housed in the same silhouette as its predecessor, but in a metallic taupe color — relies on a patented SmoothGel formula to coat lashes from base to tip and is designed to makes lashes appear 50 percent longer and 50 percent curvier. It's Lash Extending Brush has one curved side, said to lengthen, curl and separate the lash, and one flat side to build color. The mascara will sell for a suggested retail price of $6.99. Ads for Luxurious Lengths will feature Revlon spokesmodel Eva Mendes and play on "how fun and playful your lashes can be," said Rifkin.Industry sources estimate Luxurious Lengths will generate more than $15 million in first-year retail sales, which would earn the mascara a seat in the top 10.

This March, Revlon will attempt to strengthen its position in hair color by introducing the first at-home lowlighting kit to the market, as well as a new highlighting kit. Called Revlon Custom Effects Highlighting and Lowlighting Kits, the products come with a Smart Toner to prevent brassiness, a Finishing Conditioner and a Precision Applicator, a comb designed to hold the colorant for easy application without messy drips.

Debra Dowd, Revlon's vice president of marketing for hair, explained that lowlighting used to be more of a corrective measure — adding darker strains to over-lightened hair — but it has evolved into more of a fashion statement. The Lowlighting Kits are available in three shades, Toffee, Cinnamon and Chocolate. The Highlight Kits come in four shades, Champagne, Honey, Chestnut and Currant. Each will be available for a suggested retail price of $10.99. Industry sources expect the kits to reap more than $13 million in first-year retail sales.

Dowd acknowledged that of the 60 percent of women who actively color their hair, more are turning to salons over the drugstores. But she added that salon-quality offerings, such as the Lowlighting Kit, may prompt salon loyalists to stroll down the mass-market hair color aisles once again.

"We're getting real serious about hair," said Dowd.

Revlon's revitalization efforts extend right down to the nitty-gritty, beauty tools — a category in which Revlon has the leadership position. Revlon began revamping its beauty tools earlier this year, introducing manicure items. This spring, Revlon aims to widen its lead with a range of pedicure tools called Revlon Expert Effect Perfect Pedicure System.

"Pedicure is the fastest growing segment in the category," noted Heather Sopczynski, Revlon's senior product manager for beauty tools. "But there is very little innovation out there."

Revlon developed the tools with Venus razor designer Metaphase, a company that specializes in ergonomic design, to ensure women could comfortably use the items on themselves.

The pedicure system is broken down into five steps — Shape, Groom, Remove, Smooth and Finish — with several products for each. Products range from the Expert Effect Toenail Nipper for $17. 49 to the Expert Effect Hands-Free Smoother, a foot-shaped pumice stone with a rubber bottom designed to stay put on the bathroom floor, for $8.99.While it's not housed with the pedicure system, the pièce de résistance of Revlon's beauty tools is its Platinum Slant Tip Tweezer. The sides of the tweezer were designed to cradle fingers and hot pink nonslip finger grips are meant to ensure accuracy. The $15.99 stainless steel tweezer will bring Revlon into the premium realm, an arena dominated by Tweezerman.

Several buyers have said that while franchise refreshes show Revlon's commitment to rebuilding the brand, the real excitement this spring will be the changes to its display wall. Revlon is reportedly replacing its traditional black headers with bold splashes of color, such as red.

One buyer noted that the entrance of Vital Radiance, a line said to be priced similarly to Clinique, will help drugstores court a new consumer group, Baby Boomers, who have left the category out of frustration or generally shop for cosmetics in the department store channel.

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