Almay is rolling out its biggest color cosmetics initiative in two years, Pure Blends, an eco-friendly collection that at least one buyer said will give competitors “a run for their money.”

While Almay executives recognize that organic — let alone natural — lines aren’t new to the market, the brand wanted to capitalize on the trend and further its positioning, which has been about the natural woman, innovation and strengthening Almay’s hypoallergenic heritage, said Elizabeth Crystal, senior vice president of Revlon and Almay Color Cosmetics.

“We believe that Almay is perfectly positioned to capitalize on the growing natural trend by offering the mass retail market a no-compromise, natural collection of color cosmetics that delivers the pureness of nature in color, radiant finishes and eco-friendly products and packaging,” she said. “Almay Pure Blends creates a distinct point of difference in the category and expands on what is currently available to the consumer at mass.”

This story first appeared in the November 7, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

According to a retailer from a regional drug chain who has been presented Pure Blends, the new range “will give Physicians [Formula, which launched a color cosmetics line with an EcoCert certification earlier this year] a run for its money.” The buyer liked the Pure Blend complex and felt that women will think of the line as efficacious instead of just calling itself natural. The buyer also liked the use of a hangtag on packaging, which is ecological, but also attractive, and the green font on the package that conveys a natural message to consumers.

Another retailer felt that although natural or pure green products were on the down side, especially during tough economic times, Almay did a good job with the overall look of the line.

And at Walgreens, cosmetics category manager Marcie Hoklas said, “Almay is a trusted brand with a history of creating solution-based products, especially for sensitive skin types.” Hoklas added, “We believe the line will offer another strong option for women looking for natural ingredients with great results.”

According to a recent WWD story, for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, Revlon sales dipped 0.8 percent to $189.4 million, supported by higher shipments of Revlon color cosmetics from 2008 launches, but offset by higher returns and allowances for Almay as the company makes room on the shelf for upcoming introductions.

David Kennedy, Revlon president and chief executive officer, said he expects the items in the new product lineup to build on the success of this year’s launches. “If you look back to where we were with Almay and Revlon in 2006 and 2007, clearly 2008 is a very good and successful year in terms of new products,” said Kennedy.

Landing in stores now, the Pure Blends assortment includes items for the face such as foundation, loose finishing powder, pressed blush, eye shadow and lip gloss. Retailing from $7.49 for an eye shadow to $13.99 for the loose finishing powder, all items in the lineup are hypoallergenic, paraben- and talc-free formulas and composed of more than 95 percent natural ingredients. The formula contains a proprietary complex of antioxidant fruit and flower extracts. The blend of lotus, orchid and acai helps hydrate and nourish the skin, while vitamin C and papaya is designed to brighten the overall complexion.

According to Crystal, all items are housed in eco-friendly packaging that is made from 44 percent post-consumer recycled materials. To help educate consumers, Almay listed the percentage of natural ingredients in each item on the packaging.

“We found that consumers were confused about the products out there because everyone is claiming natural, so we wanted to be clear about what she’s getting within Pure Blends,” said Annette Falso, vice president of product development for Almay.

Pure Blends follows Almay’s successful Intense-I collection, which launched in 2005 and packaged color palettes according to eye color. Intense-I also unveiled Almay’s new packaging, and put the brand back on the map overall. Revlon executives quoted ACNielsen figures, asserting that during the latest 52-week period, Almay had a year-to-date share of 5.8 percent, with the eye category growing 5.7 percent to $58.8 million in sales and face growing 8.8 percent to $52 million in sales.

Almay’s Pure Blends launch will be supported by a new TV and print advertising campaign, featuring the company’s spokeswoman, Leslie Bibb.

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