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New Scents, Skin Care Keep Midwest Strong

CHICAGO-- With new products like Coty's Vanilla Fields, Maybelline's Revitalizing Makeup and the alpha-hydroxy acid skin care trend feeding the consumer's appetite for newness, cosmetics sales in the Midwest mass-market stores look healthy.


CHICAGO– With new products like Coty’s Vanilla Fields, Maybelline’s Revitalizing Makeup and the alpha-hydroxy acid skin care trend feeding the consumer’s appetite for newness, cosmetics sales in the Midwest mass-market stores look healthy.

But the increasing number of new products coming onto the market also poses a problem. Chains say the proliferation of stockkeeping units is forcing them to heavily edit their offerings to fit into their limited space.

At Kmart, based in Troy, Mich., year-to-date cosmetics sales are up by a high-single-digit percentage, said Mary Prince, merchandise manager.

The discount store chain has placed a greater emphasis on its beauty and health care department in the last year, Prince noted.

“The beauty category creates a definite image for Kmart. The everyday customer enjoys seeing fashion and what’s new,” she said. “Newness is the life-blood of the category.”

Kmart has also aggressively edited its selection, deleting poor performers as new launches come on board, Prince said.

“We’ve edited our assortment and have fewer skus than we did a year ago,” she said.

Treatment and color are driving sales, she noted, with those categories up by double-digit percentages. The women’s fragrance category is “sluggish,” but men’s fragrance is very strong, she added.

In treatment, alpha-hydroxy skin care continues to be the hottest new trend, Prince said, with Pond’s being a strong brand. L’Oreal’s Plenitude skin care line is also continuing to do well, she said.

The top-performing women’s fragrance is Coty’s Vanilla Fields, Prince said.

In color, lipsticks, especially with a matte finish, mascara and liquid makeups are all strong trends, according to Sue Grimshaw, Kmart’s color cosmetics buyer.

Natural looks are taking precedence, with shades of brown and taupe doing well, she said. Dark colors are popular, and Grimshaw noted a crossover from ethnic-targeted lines into the main market.

For example: “Some of Revlon’s deeper tones are being bought by the general market,” Grimshaw said.

Kmart’s strongest brand in color cosmetics is Maybelline, Grimshaw said. The chain also has high hopes for Maybelline’s Revitalizing Makeup, launching this month.

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“[Revitalizing Makeup’s] promotional prepacks in February had a strong sell-through,” Grimshaw said.

She named L’Oreal as another key brand, with mascaras, foundations and nail enamels performing especially well.

Another growth area at Kmart is the teen market, Prince said, with such lines as Bonne Belle’s range of flavored lip glosses showing strong sales increases.

At Arbor Drugs, a 153-store chain also based in Troy, Mich., the cosmetics business is ahead by a strong double-digit percentage, according to a spokesman.

Arbor Drugs places a strong emphasis on new product launches, he said.

“The customer is looking for newness,” he said. “Profit is only one of the considerations. It begins with what the customer expects to see in the store.”

Because space is at a premium, “space management, inventory control and replenishment are all very important,” the spokesman said.

He noted that Arbor tracks all purchases at the point of sale to measure the performance of its merchandise.

The spokesman noted that because cosmetics are a strong customer draw, Arbor pays close attention to maintaining stock levels. The customer decides what goes on the shelves, he said, adding, “Reorders are dictated by sales.”

With so many new products coming on the market, editing plays a key role. If a product’s sales start to slip, it will be replaced by something new, he said.

Hair color, especially L’Oreal’s Casting line, and color cosmetics are the strongest categories, he said. In color, professional-style nail care products are performing well and sales of lipsticks are also very strong.

As at Kmart, the drugstore chain also anticipates good things from Maybelline’s Revitalizing Makeup.

As for fragrances, Arbor stocks prestige brands all year, the spokesman said, not just during peak gift-giving times.

Designer names, including the Calvin Klein scents, are outperforming mass lines, but good sales are being achieved with Coty’s Vanilla Fields and Exclamation and Cover Girl’s Navy, the spokesman said.

The cosmetics business at Sav-On, a six-store discount drug chain based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is about even with last year, according to Lorraine Brunelle, cosmetic buyer.

Color is the strongest category, with lipstick and nail colors being the bestsellers.

“Whereas most women buy just one cologne and stick with it, women change their colors all the time, so we’re always selling lip and nail colors,” Brunelle said.

She noted that a key trend in color cosmetics for spring is sheer lipsticks and makeups and natural looking French-manicure nails.

In skin care, “alpha-hydroxy is one of the hottest new items for a while,” Brunelle said. Alpha Hydrox lotion and cream by Neoteric Cosmetics is selling very well.

Brunelle said Ultima II’s Brighten Up-Tighten Up, an under-eye cream, is also very popular.

Vanilla Fields is the top-selling mass fragrance at Sav-On, with Perry Ellis’s 360 heading the designer list. Body sprays are a key trend, Brunelle noted.

She added that due to the high number of new launches, Sav-On is carrying more sku’s than a year ago, despite editing out the poor performers.

“Every time a company launches something new, we have to decide whether to try the new product and delete something old because we don’t have space for everything,” she said.

Most companies will send Sav-On trial displays of product for 60 days, Brunelle said, and the store can return it if it doesn’t sell.

“If it does well and we sell out, we’ll order it,” she said.