BERLIN — Germany’s low-cost, high-energy, teen-friendly Essence cosmetics line took Europe by storm. Now, the upstart’s big sister brand Catrice, aimed at 30- to 50-year-olds, is getting a makeover and relaunch, finalized this month.
Parent company Cosnova celebrates its 10th anniversary this year; the Sulzbach, Germany-based firm was started by Javier González and Christina Oster-Daum, a husband-and-wife team who met while working for Coty; González also worked for Wella.
González says Cosnova is “very close to the pulse of the trends and what is happening. (We) see fast, learn fast, implement fast.” Lead time is nine months for standard products, and six months for trend editions—Essence puts out 22 trend editions per year and Catrice around 12— with inspirations running from Pop Art to “Twilight.”
Essence pulled off a stealth climb to become the market leader in Germany in 2007, surprising rivals. “If you make it to number one and your competitors basically haven’t realized you are there — it’s good. We are thankful for that low attention to us in the early stages of our company,” laughs González. Essence is now in the top spot in the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia-Herzogovina; it entered the U.S. in Ulta stores last April, and also sells in South Africa and the Middle East. Cosnova’s net beauty sales for 2010 were 133.1 million euros, or $174.7 million at average exchange for the period; that’s up 46.9 percent over 2009.
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Cosnova has done little traditional media placement in the past, but trumpeted Catrice’s revamp in German editions of Vogue, Gala, InStyle and trendy fashion title Tush. Catrice also has new pricing; roughly double those of Essence, less than 4 euros ($5.69) versus Essence’s under 2 euros ($2.84). Prices were previously 30 to 40 percent more than the sister brand.