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Prestige Brands Enter Mass: The Year Ahead

Several beauty companies have transitioned from department stores to the mass market.

A host of beauty companies have paved the road to the mass market from gilded department stores, turning it into a superhighway for second chances.

Alberto-Culver Co. unapologetically recast the salon brand Nexxus as a premium mass market offering in 2008. Its latest range, Nexxus Dualiste, pushed drugstore price points up higher with items, selling for between $11.99 and $15.70. In a stunning move, Frédéric Fekkai plans to enter the mass market early this year with its Fekkai Classic range, and shatter the price ceiling once again with its $20 shampoos. As a result, Sephora immediately dropped the line.

Cosmedicine, a one-time Sephora exclusive, is creating an offering for a yet-to-be named formidable mass market retailer. The mass version will utilize Cosmedicine’s signature blue color for its packaging, which will house the same product formulas in smaller sizes at lower price points.

One former prestige darling, Hard Candy, has vacated the upper tier altogether, inking an exclusivity deal with Wal-Mart. Its new owner, NuWorld Beauty, re-created Hard Candy for the mass market stalwart, injecting edginess into the beauty department with splashy displays and products like glitter eyeliner. “The customer will feel she’s in a candy store,” said Carmen Bauza, Wal-Mart’s vice president of beauty.

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Fellow former specialty store brand, Demeter Fragrances, closely aligned itself with the mass market, shuttering its New York outpost to establish its new “flagship” in Duane Reade’s Look Boutique last fall. The company, run by chief executive officer Mark D. Crames, continues to create tailored scents for a range of retailers, including Sephora, Whole Foods and Sears.

Target also is clearing room for upmarket brands in a bid to distinguish its offering from competitors. One of latest additions includes the London-born line Pixi by makeup artist Petra Strand.