A new product — biodegradable face wipes that began rolling out to retailers in the U.S. and Canada in late August — represents the first step in the process, said Kara Langan, the senior vice president of global marketing for Almay, Mitchum and Cutex as of August.
The Biodegradable Cleansing Towlettes, $5.99 each for a pack of 25, come in two formulations, infused onto 100 percent biodegradable fibers — micellar and longwear makeup-removing. The eco-friendly wipes herald a new brand message for Almay that positions it as makeup containing “clean” formulations with an emphasis on sustainability. Another recent product — the Skin Perfecting Comfort Matte Foundation, $13.99 – is packaged in a recyclable glass container with a cap made of post-consumer recycled plastic.
“It’s the introduction of where we’re evolving the Almay brand,” said Langan. “It started from a place of ‘do no harm’ on skin, but there’s a much broader opportunity within the marketplace to do no harm on skin and the planet.”
On Almay’s redesigned web site, a landing page listing the brand’s values describes it as “clean, hypoallergenic, doctor-tested and sustainable-forward.” Langan said the clean and sustainable positioning is a modernized take on what the brand is known for — being hypoallergenic.
“Everyone’s gaining more knowledge of products and ingredients and sensitive skin is on the rise — it has to do with our lifestyle and pollution and the environment around us,” said Langan, who noted the brand formulates its products using a list of about 500 ingredients out of 10,000 available for use in most cosmetics. “We’re expanding what it means to be hypoallergenic — we want to make sure we’re focused on not irritating sensitive skin, but expanding that definition to be clean beauty. What we’re doing with the brand places it in a fantastic position for growth in the coming years.”
With the latest re-brand, growth is certainly needed. Almay, like other legacy mass-market beauty brands — particularly in the challenged makeup category — has struggled in recent years, as the market has become saturated with social-media-savvy direct-to-consumer brands. Linda Wells, who was from 2017 to spring 2019 Revlon’s chief creative officer, had worked on reviving the brand’s marketing to help speak to younger shoppers. Trendier products, like a crystal-themed jelly highlighter exclusive to Ulta Beauty, were introduced. The re-brand did not prevent the brand from struggling, however, particularly in the drugstore and grocery channels — the most recent scanner data from Nielsen tracks Almay’s sales as down 11.3 percent in the 52 weeks ending Aug. 14.
“What was done with communication back in 2017 and 2018 was fun and we want to hold onto that while also shifting the messaging back to the clinical and expertise side,” said Langan, who was promoted from a senior sales role with the brand into her current position. She previously worked for Elizabeth Arden, as senior vice president of global marketing, and came to Revlon with the acquisition in 2016.
Almay this summer began to show signs of significant improvement — while the Revlon brand was down 7 percent in the four weeks ending Aug. 14, according to Nielsen, Almay was up 10.8 percent, compared to a decline of 19 percent at the same time last year.
Almay’s re-brand is launching as its parent company gears up to potentially be sold. In August, WWD reported that Goldman Sachs was preparing to go out to interested and perspective buyers after Labor Day, according to sources. Sources say Revlon is looking to sell either the whole company or some of its big brands.