The DNC and Nail Color Sales

Today show’s co-anchor Savannah Guthrie had a tough assignment this week — to confirm who designed Michelle Obama’s dress and what was on her nails. Chuckling as she issued her report from the convention floor in Charlotte, N.C., Guthrie said Obama was wearing a nail gel: specifically Artistic Colour Gloss Soak-Off Color Gel in Vogue.

Before it was announced, there were guesses the hue was OPI’s I Don’t Give a Rotterdam from the Holland Collection, among other colors.

Obama has been a lighting rod for fashion — fortifying the careers of designers such as Jason Wu and Tracy Reese. Now she’s doing the same for the nail care industry, a business already on fire.

Specifically, her use of gels helps introduce the concept to women who may not have had exposure in salons. Obama was said to select a gel for its long-wearing features.

The color also got notice and could portend fall styles. “Did you see Michelle’s nails?” asked a woman at a recent party. “I just didn’t think that was appropriate for her age.” Another woman countered, “Well I have blue on mine now, and I’m older.”

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Apparently, discussion over colors is as heated as the candidate race itself! And in the interest of fair coverage, Ann Romney selected red Oscar de la Renta — no word on her nails.

In an example of how nail and fashion dovetail, nail design is also playing heavily into this fashion week. When interviewed by Guthrie about the shows, Reese, who designed Obama’s convention dress, said she puts as much effort into the nail color at her shows as the fashions themselves. Sinful Colors invited fashionistas to hop on its bus for manicures and pedicures during the shows.

Backstage manicurists touted fresh spring ideas ranging from nails to match complexions, reverse French manicures, patterns, airbrushed looks and even Lucite. Essie this year teamed up with many designers including Diane Von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera, 3.1 Phillip Lim; DKNY, Marchesa, Tory Burch, Zac Posen, Milly, Helmut Lang, Wes Gordon, Suno, Hervé Léger, Lela Rose, Jenny Packham, Creatures of the Wind, Douglas Hannant, Costello Tagliapietra, Tanya Taylor, Chado Ralph Rucci, Veronica Beard, Mathieu Mirano and Rachel Roy. Retailers are soaking up the attention to the nail category, especially as they look to add more gel products. Several chains said they are cutting slower-moving nail items, often implements, to make space for two to three nail gel products. Since the lines have bigger boxes, space is crucial. The thinking is, two to three lines can satisfy consumer demand. The warning to the industry from retailers is to not saturate the market with too many options, especially inferior products that will turn shoppers off from what could become a tremendous opportunity for mass merchants.

People, Places and Things

A few words with Revlon’s president and chief executive officer Alan Ennis about the decision to streamline some operations.

The beauty brand is exiting its owned manufacturing facility in France and its leased manufacturing facility in Maryland, moving manufacturing from those facilities to other Revlon facilities and third parties; rightsizing its French and Italian organizations; and realigning its operations in Latin America, including consolidating Latin America and Canada into a single region. These moves will result in eliminating roughly 250 positions. Revlon secured a manufacturing plant in Maryland it can use that was part of its deal with Sinful (Mirage Cosmetics).

Ennis: Over the past three years we have successfully executed our strategy and are delivering on our strategic goal of profitably growing our business. These actions will enable us to continue to invest in the execution of our strategy while maintaining highly competitive margins.

What’s in Store

Physicians Gets Another Bid: Physicians Formula Holdings Inc., which agreed last month to a buyout from Swander Pace Capital, said it has received an unsolicited and higher offer from an undisclosed suitor. Swander agreed to pay $4.25 a share, which the company said last month equated to about $65 million. The new offer comes in at $4.90 a share, or almost $75 million under the same standard. Physicians Formula said its board is exploring the proposal and has not yet determined if the bid is superior to Swander’s.

Walgreens August Sales: Walgreens reported August sales of $5.9 billion, a decrease of 4.5 percent as compared with the same month in fiscal 2011. However, front-end sales increased 0.9 percent, compared with the same month in 2011 and basket size increased 1.6 percent as Walgreens continues to rev up its non-Rx offerings.