By  on December 16, 2005

NEW YORK — A year into its sprawl across the U.S., Rimmel London plans to shake up the beauty establishment and become the number-two cosmetics brand in the mass channel.

It's a feat the Coty-owned brand has already achieved in Europe, where it is second only to Maybelline New York. And it's a mission, Coty executives say, that Rimmel expects to complete within the next several years.

Rimmel already ranks within the top-five cosmetics brands at Wal-Mart, noted Rick Goldberg, vice president of color cosmetics for Coty Beauty U.S.

Since expanding beyond Wal-Mart, where it made its U.S. debut in 2000, Rimmel has set up shop in 1,300 doors — ranging from regional drugstores such as Longs Drug Stores and national chains, like Target.

This spring, Rimmel will be rolled out to Kmart doors as well. "The goal is to add a major retailer [to its distribution] each season," said Goldberg.

Over the last four years, Rimmel's U.S. sales have quadrupled, growing from $25 million in 2001 to $100 million this year. Its global sales are growing at a fast clip as well, increasing from $199 million in 2001 to more than $300 million in 2005. Rimmel's continual growth spurt makes it the fastest growing brand in the entire Coty Inc. portfolio.

At a time when the leaders in the category are all trying to expand their reach with new products, and in several cases, new lines, Rimmel executives assert that their brand can carve out a viable point of difference for retailers through its edgy, "made in the U.K." positioning.

"We want to stay the style leader," said Goldberg.

Stephen Mormoris, senior vice president, global marketing for Coty Beauty agreed, adding, "Rimmel is certainly an important catalyst for creativity in the mass market. It captures trends in a way that no other mass brand does."

To keep its image as a hip, London brand — fronted by supermodel/Brit Kate Moss — Rimmel will roll out a new display wall this spring. The display heralds the brand's British heritage with photographs of London's quintessential red phone booth and double-decker bus, offset by black display headers.Rimmel's lip portfolio gets top billing on the display, running across the length of the fixture at eye level. The placement was prompted by the success of Volume Boost lip color, which was launched this fall, said Goldberg. The wall will also spotlight Rimmel's spring launches, which include Vinyl Jelly Gloss Liner, Volume Flash Mascara and Recover Illuminating Anti-Fatigue Foundation.

Rimmel created the Vinyl Jelly Gloss Liner to blend seamlessly with its range of lip glosses. The gel-based liner will be available in nine shades for $4.25 each.

Volume Flash Mascara, available in black, brown and blue shades for $6.68 each, adapted its technology from Rimmel's Volum' Eyes Comb Mascara. However, it is applied with a four-cut brush applicator. Its formula is designed to fuse wax with polymers to deliver more product to the lashes, explained Goldberg.

The standout product of the line is Recover Illuminating Anti-Fatigue Foundation. The face makeup leverages antiaging technology and adapts it for young women to create the antifatigue formula, explained Goldberg. The formula relies on brightening ingredients, such as pearlized elements and light diffusers, along with vitamins C and E. Recover will be available in six shades for $8.03 each, slightly higher than Rimmel's average value price point.

The products will bow in February, with TV ads supporting both Volume Flash Mascara and Recover beginning in January. Print ads will break in February books. After relying on print ads and its Rimmel double-decker bus tour to build awareness in the U.S., Rimmel launched its first television ad campaign in January. "As we expand, we hope to continue to reinvest in growth through our ad support," said Goldberg.

The display wall and advertising images feature Moss, who has been a spokesmodel for the brand for five years. Despite her recent troubles with drugs and the media storm that followed, Rimmel executives say they never considered dropping the model. "Kate Moss embodies the authentic underground London look," said Mormoris, who added Moss has contributed personal insights to Rimmel's marketing efforts. "Londoners and those throughout the U.K. are very sympathetic to her personal issues."

As for how U.S. consumers view the fashion icon, Coty's corporate communications director Hitesh Patel said: "Clearly, she's showing self-discipline," referring to her rehabilitation. "She's only shown her commitment and professionalism to Rimmel."With a celebrity spokesmodel and steady product pipeline from London in place, Rimmel has its sights on new markets, such as Asia. "This is a brand that transcends borders," said Patel. "Its cool, urban culture fits many markets."

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