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Beauty Roundup: June 5, 2009

For the last 10 years, consumers could find a unique cosmetics line at the drug store.

More Flavors Than Vanilla

It used to be you could visit a certain city and find a store selling items you couldn’t find elsewhere. That store made you want to visit that city and shop at that store. The quintessential example is Frango Mints at Marshall Field’s. Now, America is filled with many of the same chains in every market.

For the last 10 years, consumers could find a unique and interesting cosmetics line at the drug or discount store. Lord & Berry at Harmon, Sinful at Walgreens. But the economic climate is making it almost impossible for retailers to support slower-moving lines. Without the orders from major chains, some of the niche players — not all — are finding it difficult to survive.

Lord & Berry, for example, made some of its own edits and is holding its own. Others aren’t so lucky. Just this week, Procter & Gamble made what had to be a tough decision to pull the plug on Max Factor. While the brand was mainly in Wal-Mart and some retail doors, it still has one of the strongest heritages in the business. Max Factor was the original makeup artist line and was the top-selling mass brand 20 years ago. It has gone through several rebirths only to get cut in a more performance-driven P&G. Max Factor will remain distributed overseas in more than 70 countries, generating more than $1 billion in global sales.

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Jane Cosmetics is also looking like it could have obstacles. Purchased last week by a company comprised of investors under the name Reborn, the products are being offered to a wholesaler who prepares them for dollar and off-price distribution. Even Physicians Formula, the ultimate innovative line sold at mass, is struggling. This week, it faces delisting by Nasdaq over complaints of tardiness in filling outside board member positions. In addition, the beauty firm is facing elimination from a major retail account.

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It is all well and good that retailers are looking at the slow turns in cosmetics. But what shouldn’t be forgotten is the need for variety. A vanilla-choice-only beauty department could disappoint shoppers and drive them to Sephora or other doors where new and exciting await them every day.

People, Place and Things

A few words with Joann Tyson, founder of Cosmetic Promotions, on how to keep a small business thriving. A few of Tyson’s theories:

1. Never open a business you are not passionate about and are not an expert in.
2. Don’t think being your own boss is easier than having one.
3. Be careful about overhead.
4. Start small.
5. Hire when necessary and not before.
6. Hire the person who meets the job description and will mesh well with your company.
7. Analyze your productivity and always look for ways to improve upon it.
8. Let your employees share in the profits.
9. Learn to delegate.
10. Have meetings regularly but not too often.
11. Time is money (especially when you are paying the salary).
12. The customer is not always right.
13. Know what your competition is up to.
14. Get a mentor.

What’s In Store

New Target Look: Target has a new beauty department with powerful in-store impact and the cosmetics department front and center. There are inspirations from Sephora combined with Target’s bold signage.

Soap and Glory Expands to Men’s: Soap & Glory is gearing up to offer whimsical-filled grooming products for guys.