PRODUCT OF THE YEAR: PRESTIGE
This story first appeared in the December 12, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate
For his first big launch as chief executive officer, Masahiko Uotani played to Shiseido’s strengths—and how. Twenty years in the making, Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate, said to increase the skin’s immunity, is the result of a collaboration between the Japanese cosmetics giant and Harvard’s Cutaneous Biology Research Center. From his days at Coke, Uotani believes you go big or go home, and in a year that saw little dynamism in skin care, Shiseido stood
out from the pack.
They’re Real Push-up Liner
Benefit, a pioneer in brow bars, was one of the first brands to see the potential of the eye category, a prescience that paid off with this year’s launch of They’re Real Push-Up Liner. An extension of the brand’s best-selling mascara, its innovation—gel-pot liner in an easy-to-use pen—was understood quickly by consumers, who drove sales to $1.4 million in the first month alone.
Cate Blanchett is no stranger to the sweet smell of success. Hot on the heels of her second Academy Award win in March, she lent some of that magic to Giorgio Armani’s blockbuster women’s launch, Sì. Armani is the number-one fragrance house in the U.S. in the men’s business, but the women’s side has always been more challenging for the brand. Sì could change that: In a tough year for fragrance overall, NPD reported that Sì was the top launch of the fall season, well on track to hit its sales goal of $25 million in the U.S.
NEXT: Product of the Year: Mass >>
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PRODUCT OF THE YEAR: MASS
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel lived up to its name, providing a much-needed lift for the sagging nail category. The two-step product promised the durability and shine of a gel manicure without the need to use UV light to cure it; one retailer called it a game changer. Coty ceo Bart Brecht cited the item as a standout for the company, even as conditions remained tough for the $1.6 billion nail-care category, which suffered losses of 15 percent in the first half of 2014. By early October, though, that figure had been pared to 4.9 percent, thanks in large part to the strength of Miracle Gel.
Regenerist Luminous Collection
Desperately in need of a boost this year, Olay drew on the luminescence of pearls as inspiration for the launch of a trio of brightening products, Regenerist Luminous. The idea was a gem. The campaign launched during the Grammy Awards and became Olay’s top-performing social program, an achievement that resulted in sales. According to IRI data for the 52-week period ending August 10, the Regenerist Luminous collection was the top-selling-by-dollar skin-care launch of the year. Bright future, indeed.
7 Day Keratin Smooth
From the runways of New York Fashion Week to mass retail shelves, TRESemmé was hot in 2014, but it’s the brand’s research lab that really deserves a shout-out. With 7 Day Keratin Smooth, the brand effectively took an in-demand salon service to bathrooms across America, with a smoothing system that promised sleek hair for seven straight days—even through washes. Consumers embraced the technology. According to IRI, for the 52-week period ended August 10, sales soared 120 percent to almost $17 million.
NEXT: Retailer of the Year >>
RETAILER OF THE YEAR
Rituals Home and Body Cosmetics
Rituals, the Amsterdam-based brand founded by ex-Unilever exec Raymond Cloosterman, has set its sights squarely on the American market with its storytelling-based approach. Consumers clearly like what they are hearing: U.S. sales are up in the double digits, and the company’s global sales are expected to hit $300 million. Rituals, which includes more than 400 sku’s across bath and body, men’s and makeup, has thus far opened two freestanding stores in New York and is also sold at Barneys. “For inspiration, we don’t dive into a laboratory, we dive into history,” said Cloosterman this year. “We build a whole world around the story.”
Rite Aid, the third-largest drug chain in the U.S., was badly in need of a jolt to put it back in the mass-market cosmetics race. This year, it got it. First, Rite Aid started adding indie brands not carried by the competition, like Eddie Funkhouser, then it turned to the in-store experience. The culmination of those efforts were unveiled in Beverly Hills this summer. In addition to illuminated fixtures and trained beauty advisors, soothing images flow on a screen above the aisles, designed to evoke the feeling of a spa. Said WSL Strategic Retail’s Wendy Liebmann, “Rite Aid is recapturing its business and doing so in strategic ways that are different than the competition.”
In a year that saw the direct-to-consumer category explode, the capabilities of QVC were on full display. The electronic retailer’s beauty sales will exceed $1.1 billion in 2014, according to industry sources. To reach that lofty figure, QVC has focused on its core businesses (bareSkin liquid foundation from Bare Escentuals was its biggest launch of the year), while also developing new categories and brands, from high-ticket tools to conceptual skin-care lines like Tatcha. “QVC has been a pioneer in building brands,” says Karen Grant of NPD, “and has carved out a space that doesn’t compete with prestige but is complementary.”
DIGITAL INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR
Makeup Genius App
L’Oréal Paris wasn’t the first brand to launch a virtual makeover tool, but it was first with technology that allows consumers to “try on” products live, at point of sale. The Makeup Genius app turns the front-facing iPhone and iPad camera into a makeup mirror, allowing users to virtually apply more than 300 products and a myriad of different looks created by the brand’s makeup artists. The app was a hit, garnering more than 1.3 million downloads in the U.S. and two million globally. The translation into sales was very real, too, with L’Oréal Paris posting double-digit sales increases in key categories like foundation and eye, according to IRI. It doesn’t take a genius to appreciate results like that.
The Beauty Board
With the launch of The Beauty Board, sephora.com looked to transform the power of the selfie into sales. A proprietary social-media platform, The Beauty Board enables users to post pictures of themselves in a favorite beauty look and detail the products they used to achieve it. Visitors can then click-to-buy on the products, which are pictured right next to the main image. The idea was catnip to smartphone-loving Millennials—already more than 60 percent of posts are coming from mobile devices. Few inside (or outside) of beauty have so deftly combined user-generated content with commerce.
NEXT: Ad Campaign of the Year >>
AD CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR
Chanel No. 5
At Chanel, an ad campaign is never just an ad campaign: It’s a global event. This year, the company unveiled its starriest effort to date for Chanel No. 5. To wit: Oscar-winner Baz Luhrmann directed the superest of all models, Gisele Bündchen, in a short “film” called “You’re the One that I Want.” Improbably, Bündchen plays a character who believes her husband is leaving her, only to discover that quite the opposite is true. A constellation of bold-faced names feted its preview in New York in a specially built cabaret constructed for the occasion. In three weeks, the video garnered more than 5 million views on YouTube, and across all social media platforms resulted in an earned media value of more than $2 million during the launch alone, according to Tribe Dynamics. A dazzling display from a brand that never seems to stumble.
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NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Professional Hair Care for Children
Cozy Friedman isn’t exactly a newcomer to beauty: Her salon, Cozy Cuts for Kids, celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. She capitalized on that experience with a foray into products, launching a targeted range of hair care for children in a largely ignored segment of the $12 billion hair-care business. “We are creating a new category,” she declared at launch. The numbers bear her out: Generation Z, comprised of those under the age of 18, is the new sweet spot for marketers eager to tap into the estimated $44 billion in spending potential they represent. Youth power indeed.
The price may be insane—$50 for a bottle of nail lacquer—but Christian Louboutin lived up to the hype. Consumers clamored to get their hands on a bottle just to say they had one. Rouge Louboutin, the signature red, sold out on sephora.com in one hour and 1,300 units of the shade were snapped up in seven hours at Selfridges. “Christian Louboutin Beauty has been exceptionally popular with our clients,” exclaimed Alison Hahn, vice president of color at Sephora, “and Rouge Louboutin has been the number-one nail polish at Sephora since launch.” Still, it’s just the tip of the stiletto, beautywise, says the Paris-based footwear firm, which plans on adding more categories over the next 24 months.
NEXT: Launch of the Year >>
LAUNCH OF THE YEAR
& Other Stories
H&M revolutionized style with its fast-fashion approach to retail. Now, it looks to do the same with beauty with its latest format, called & Other Stories. While the store features clothing and accessories, beauty takes a starring role in the cross-merchandised environment. The Stockholm-based retailer has succeeded in something that many popular-priced marketers struggle with: infusing its fragrance, bath and body and color collections with a high cool quotient at very affordable prices. Products start at $8. “Many fashion brands treat beauty separately, but here, they’re sitting all under the same roof,” says Samuel Fernström, managing director of & Other Stories. Adds Sara Hildén Bengtsson, the creative director, “We create with a strong woman in mind.”
Smart Custom-Repair Serum
In a year that saw the end of the explosive growth in prestige skin care, Clinique stood out with a serum that claimed to conform to the individual needs of each user’s skin. Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum, whose formulation holds 37 patents, can identify problem areas of the skin and deliver active ingredients only to the parts of the skin that need it most. Executives said the product is “smart” enough to know what to fix and what not to fix, a claim that consumers found credible. According to the NPD Group, Clinique Smart was the number-one skin-care launch of the year, and although it’s too soon to tell if the company has another Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector on its hands (the product that kicked off the global brightening craze), NPD’s Grant says simply, “It definitely resonated.”
CREATIVE INFLUENCERS OF THE YEAR
Jennifer Balbier and James Gager of MAC
Where they go, others follow. Together, creative director James Gager and product developer Jennifer Balbier have kept MAC on the cutting edge of cool. Rather than rely solely on new product launches (although there are those, too), the duo treats MAC like a fast-fashion brand, with new collections and collaborations launching into stores every six weeks or so. This year’s projects included everyone from Marge Simpson to Brooke Shields, with Rihanna, the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Nasty Gal designer Sophia Amoruso thrown in the mix, too. Parent company Estée Lauder Inc. doesn’t break out sales by brand, but ceo Fabrizio Freda cited MAC’s success during earnings calls throughout the year as a key contributor to the company’s growth.
BRAND OF THE YEAR
Call it the year that E.l.f. Cosmetics became a giant. The fast-growing value-priced makeup brand is resolutely of its time: It began on the Web and has since expanded into 23,000 mass-market doors in the U.S. Acquired by TPG Growth in February, founder Joey Shamah said the goal is to go global. But it hasn’t abandoned its mission of making trendy makeup for the masses: This year, E.l.f. opened its second freestanding unit, with five scheduled by March 2015. With premium brands setting up their own shops, Shamah said he saw no reasons why mass brands shouldn’t follow suit. It’s name not withstanding, E.l.f. is clearly a brand that thinks B.i.g.
Urban Decay’s chief creative officer Wende Zomnir has never been afraid to take a walk on the wild side, but it was the brand’s foray into quieter territory with The Nakeds that catapulted it into the beauty stratosphere. This year, Urban cemented its success by blowing out the Nakeds concept while focusing on new areas—namely the eyes—too. Urban, which was acquired by L’Oréal in 2012, didn’t stop with products, though. It opened its first freestanding store, doubled its Ulta footprint, launched an aggressive ad campaign and geared up for global growth. “Just when you thought there was nothing new to watch, along came Urban,” says NPD’s Grant. “They solidified their place among the top prestige makeup brands.”
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CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Girls can campaign
Since becoming group president of global beauty at P&G, Deb Henretta has been bold about the need for beauty to better harness the power of technology. This year, the Cover Girl brand did just that, using engagement to empower women with its Cover Girl “Girls Can” campaign. Launched during the Olympics, the campaign features strong women like Queen Latifah making statements such as, “I heard girls can’t rap.” The “Girls Can” movement caught on across multiple social platforms and quickly went viral. “Consumers want inspiration,” said Henretta, “especially in beauty.” And, with almost six million YouTube views alone and counting, Cover Girl certainly delivered.
INDIE OF THE YEAR
Josie Maran Cosmetics
Josie Maran’s transformation from supermodel to beauty entrepreneur has been picture perfect. Her eco-conscious, argan oil–based brand, which launched in 2007, has become a true force of nature, with sales of more than $100 million annually (through only two primary retailers—Sephora and QVC) and a line of investors eager to snap up the company. But Maran’s influence extends beyond the consumer to the industry overall. Argan oil is the liquid gold that transformed the format into a significant category in the U.S. and Maran, who discovered the ingredient by chance in the south of France, has shown herself to be a prescient businesswoman able to move markets. Said Jani Friedman, vice president of new brand development at Guthy-Renker, “Josie Maran will keep its first-mover status.”
MARKETER OF THE YEAR
Global Brand President, La Mer
Behind every great brand is a killer story, and Sandra Main knows how to weave a great tale. During her time overseeing La Mer, she has guided the brand to top status in the luxury skin-care market, helping La Mer achieve that elusive status of “cult brand.” Main’s approach is evolutionary, not revolutionary: While she never forgets the power of the mother ship (the original creme is still the brand’s top-selling sku), the brand’s launches are among the most successful in the category, including this year’s Sculpting Collection The Lifting and Firming Mask, which propelled La Mer to number two in the red-hot mask market.
Chief Executive Officer, Physicians Formula
In an industry driven by appearances, Ingrid Jackel gave her brand, Physicians Formula, the ultimate makeover. From a packaging overhaul to a new advertising platform, the brand, once known for its problem/solution products, has taken on a shiny new persona with the tag line “Rx for Glamour” and imagery that exudes sexiness and youth. Products, too, have been updated, with new franchises such as Super CC and Nude Wear helping to propel the brand’s growth. In a market that increasingly looks like a sea of sameness, Jackel and her team proved there’s nothing formulaic when it comes to success.
NEXT: Company of the Year >>
COMPANY OF THE YEAR
Despite a challenging year for the global beauty industry, L’Oréal USA is not just meeting the future head on: It’s shaping it. Overseen by chief executive Frederic Rozé, whose responsibility includes North and South America, the division embarked on an acquisition spree in 2014, snapping up Niely Cosméticos in Brazil and NYX Cosmetics, Carol’s Daughter and Sayuki Custom Cosmetics in the U.S., all the while growing its core businesses in the mass, prestige and professional channels. During a presentation at the WWD Beauty CEO Summit, Rozé revealed the myriad ways in which L’Oréal is rethinking and reinventing the future.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “our success comes from our capacity to transform ourselves, to metamorphose ourselves.” Rozé’s mission may not yet be accomplished, but if 2014 is any indication, he is well on the way. “They are so quick to respond to changing dynamics,” said NPD’s Karen Grant. “They are positioning the company really well and making smart and decisive acquisitions.”