NEW YORK — Apparently, you can still get something for a dollar these days.
Come November, Eyes. Lips. Face. cosmetics, or e.l.f., a color cosmetics company launched this past June that maintains a $1 price point for all its beauty products, will move to in-store distribution from its previous Web-based selling model.
Developed over two years by Joseph Shamah, chief executive officer of the company, and Scott Vincent Borba, company president and former senior product manager at LVMH/Hard Candy LLC, the independent line has cultivated an international customer base through its Web site, generating sales from Singapore to Australia and Africa, among other locales. “We’ve already sold in all 50 states,” said Shamah, adding, “We do the most business in the big cities: New York, Chicago, Atlanta.”
Conway, a discount retail chain of five stores here, will be the first retailer to carry the line, though e.l.f. has had a trial run at a few New Jersey locations of Family Dollar, Essentials and Drug Fare stores.
Shamah and Borba are currently in talks to expand distribution to chain drugstores and mass retailers and hope to be in Wal-Mart by February.
In an effort to distinguish itself from other budget beauty names, e.l.f. calls its approach to cosmetics “problem-solution,” promising specific skin care benefits from each of its color products and offering information on five different problem skin types on its Web site.
Its Shimmering Facial Whip product acts as a liquid blusher and is infused with vitamins E, B and C, and its Clarifying Pressed Powder is designed to “treat and prevent” blemishes while concealing. “We’re avoiding trendy colors and promoting basics to complete the face,” explained Shamah, speaking to e.l.f.’s marketing focus on sophisticated women ages 18 to 34 years old. “The teen market is already saturated.”
The color palettes for fall, which include new “flush” shades to give skin an after-workout glow, are tailored to suit Caucasian, African-American and Hispanic skin tones. Colors for Asian skin tones are also on the agenda.
Product packaging is also part of e.l.f.’s efforts to speak to a multiethnic customer. French, Spanish and English are used on the product card.
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The line’s low price points are achieved through simple packaging, said Borba. Clear plastic tubes bearing the e.l.f. logo and cardboard blister packs are signatures of the line, and product applicators include packaging previously seen chiefly among prestige brands, such as click-up lip brush applicators and personal sharpeners for eye and lip pencils. “We were looking to enter a new niche with the price point,” said Borba, noting the recent exponential growth of dollar markets, “but we were also looking to provide women who can’t afford prestige brands with quality makeup, and to speak to them intelligently.”
E.l.f. is projecting $5 million to $7 million in sales for the 2004-2005 year, with a 20 percent year-by-year profit increase slated for 2005 and beyond.
In a separate venture, Borba is preparing to enter the nutraceutical market with a fortified bottled water. Called Borba Skin Balance Water, the product will be offered in three flavors — Anti-Acne/Pomegranate, Age-Defying/Afai, and Replenishing/Litchi — is calorie and carb free and is made with a generic form of Splenda called sucralose.
Borba Skin Balance Water will be released Oct. 15 in Fred Segal and will be available in Sephora stores in early 2005.
On the e.l.f. front, to further pump up its in-store debut this November, e.l.f. is releasing a brand-new all-in-one mascara. “Its the first of its kind,” remarked Shamah at an e.l.f. launch party held on Monday, “It’s waterproof on one side and regular on the other.” Practical, he explained, “if you know it’s going to rain or you’re going to have an emotional evening.” Other features of the new mascara include a lengthening, strengthening and conditioning system built into each of the wands.
“I get letters every day asking me if e.l.f. can start making nail polishes, soap…anything and everything,” said Shamah. Is dollar Botox next on the production line?
Nobel Winners Announced
NEW YORK — Call it having a really good sense of smell.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2004 has been awarded jointly to American researchers Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck for their discoveries of “odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system,” the Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet said Monday in a statement.
The researchers discovered a large gene family, comprising about 1,000 different genes, which correspond to an equivalent number of olfactory receptor types — explaining why humans have the ability to recognize and remember about 10,000 different odors, the organization explained.
Considering the number of fragrance launches set for this fall, consumers will need every single one of those receptors in full working order.