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Niche Beauty Lines Cash in as Some Big Brands Stay Home

NACDS Total Store Expo offered a rich assortment of trends including Ayurvedic-inspired products, men's grooming launches and edgy color brands.

NACDS Reveals the Next Big Beauty
Rose Water from GuruNanda.

Up-and-coming brands dominated the beauty landscape at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Total Store Expo last week. With several of the mass-market’s beauty behemoths passing on the opportunity to display their wares at the San Diego Convention Center, fledgling companies had an audience all to themselves.

Total Store Expo brings all products and categories sold in mass retailers under one exhibition roof, including pharmacy and logistics. There were also insight sessions and one-to-one retailer and brand meetings. The Meet the Market face-to-face meetings are especially beneficial to smaller retailers who chains might now know.

Beauty has long been a major category at the trade show with more than 250 companies registered under the banner of personal care/health and beauty care or cosmetics/fragrances.

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Missing on that roster were nameplates such as L’Oréal and Markwins, but the beauty industry was well-represented by emerging companies including GuruNanda, City Color Cosmetics and LA Colors. Retail executives included those from 275-plus mass-market retail chains such as Wal-Mart, Target, Pharmaca Integrated Pharmacy, Wegmans Food Markets and Ulta Beauty.

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During Meet the Market, brands had a chance to get the ear of large and small retailers in 10-minute appointments. It was there that City Colors garnered the attention of several chains who said the rich pigmented line at value pricing would be a good fit for their beauty aisles.

“The best part was Meet the Market. Everyone we met there came to the booth to see our full array of product,” said Jenny Chen, marketing manager for City Color Cosmetics. Headquartered in Taiwan, City Color’s parent has produced private label for eight years. “We decided it is time to come out with our own brand with good quality at affordable prices,” Chen said.

City Color offers a full line of color cosmetics along with tools such as blending sponges and brush sets. Prices range from $4.99 to $20.99. with most products tagged under $9.99. “We’re planning to extend into skin care within two years,” Chen added. The vertically integrated company, which has four factories in Asia and produces everything from packaging to final product, is able to react swiftly to market trends. Bigger brands, buyers said, have been sluggish to get innovations onto shelves, forcing them to seek niche players like City Color. A standout at the show, Chen said, was its collection of highlighters that she said are already receiving orders.

Although LA Colors has served the beauty business for decades, the brand is getting noticed more than ever as social media exposure puts the trendy line on par with national powers. LA Colors won bragging rights as the best in an NACDS Product Showcase contest for its Color Last Nail Polish, an extended wear two-step polish.

Ardell created a flutter with its expansion of its Faux Mink collection of artificial eyelashes. According to Elie Ryzman, retail sales vp for Ardell, the Wispies in particular were singled out by retailers.

A buzzy exhibit on the floor was GuruNanda, a company founded by Puneet Nanda (who also created the Dr. Fresh oral care brand). Nanda singled out his brand’s Rose Water as an item nabbing retailer attention because of its high-quality formulation.

Nanda is bringing Ayurvedic-inspired products to the mass market, an area he sees ripe for expansion. After an emergency trip to the hospital with chest pains during what turned out to be a severe anxiety attack, Nanda rediscovered the yoga he loved as a child growing up in India, and returned to other Ayurvedic wellness practices, including aromatherapy. His new collection of essential oils and diffusers are featured at Wal-Mart.

NACDS Reveals the Next Big Beauty
Dove is expanding its dry shampoos.

Hair care products dominated the show floor, especially those for textured hair formulated with natural or less caustic ingredients. Dry shampoos have hit fever pitch at mass and Dove revealed two new versions — Dove Refresh+Care Unscented Dry Shampoo and Dove Refresh+Care Fresh & Floral Dry Shampoo.

Products for men were also standouts at Total Store Expo, according to retailers who attended. “I’ve never seen so much aimed at men,” said one buyer. In particular, retailers cited products for maintaining beards as well as grooming tools. Bulldog Skin Care took the Showcase best new item for personal care/health and beauty care for its Bulldog Original Beard Oil.

NACDS Reveals the Next Big Beauty
Conair is celebrating the ritual of male grooming.

Retailers, especially Rite Aid and Target, are carving out specialty men’s merchandising areas. Conair, looking to push its men’s grooming tools to the forefront of a crowded category, showed off its revamped tool line called Conair Man. Taking a deep dive into men’s grooming habits, Conair discovered men are approaching shaving and grooming as a ritual versus a chore, according to Kevin Morton, marketing manager, Conair Man.

“We really wanted to change things up. We found it is about respecting the ritual and we’re translating that into our packaging,” Morton said. “We gave the category a facelift.” Morton added that 70 percent of men have some form of facial hair to maintain. “And longer beards are trending up.”

Conair also identified five influencers who serve as Men Maintenance Missionaries. Among the key products Conair promoted at the meeting were an All-in-1 Trimmer, an Ear/Nose Trimmer and iStubble, a versatile tool with a unique floating contouring head.

Finding products faster is a major initiative for mass-market beauty retailers. In fact, during the time frame of Total Store Expo, Rite Aid announced it is working with RangeMe, an online platform that streamlines new product delivery between suppliers and retailers. Rite Aid’s category buying team will have access to an avenue to efficiently source trending consumer-ready products faster than ever before.

“We strive to provide a tremendous in-store experience for our customers and that starts with our product offerings,” said Bill Bergin, group vice president of health and beauty at Rite Aid. “With RangeMe, we can now scale our discovery efforts and continue to source products that are unique and meaningful for our customers.”

RangeMe offers a chance for buyers to see new products and the inbound submission process. Suppliers have the chance to boost the control over the marketing of products and gain greater access to retail buyers. In the past year alone, RangeMe has grown to over 70,000 suppliers and over 250,000 active products across all categories.

“Consumers are open to trying new brands as trends are becoming the primary driver of purchasing decisions,” said Nicky Jackson, founder and chief executive officer at RangeMe.

The Total Store Expo will take place in Denver next year from August 25-28.