NEW YORK — With nail-color sales languishing, Kiss Products is promising to deliver growth to the category in the form of gellike artificial nails, nail art and artificial eye lashes.

Sales of nail polish declined just under 1 percent to $225 million for the 12-week period ended Aug. 11 in mass outlets according to IRI, leaving suppliers and retailers scurrying to find something to take up the slack. Add to that, the at-home gel kits have not gained traction although consumers adore the finish of a gel.

“Our prescription for 2014 is to bring innovation and not just ride the bandwagon,” said Grace Tallon, senior vice president of marketing for Kiss Products. “Drug chains were overwhelmed with products and displays.” In her view, the flood of items added to the slowdown in sales.

However, Tallon conceded, consumers love the look of gels. To that end, Kiss is adding new items that remove some of the negatives of traditional gels, specifically damage to nails. The arsenal includes everything from artificial nails with gel finishes and nail tattoos to sophisticated nail-art kits and nail-repair systems. Kiss is also freshening up its packaging with a new logo on new items launching for spring.

Nail dress has emerged as a big category in nails, with beauty giants including L’Oréal and Revlon hopping on board. Kiss is one of the pioneers of the decals and has imbued its products with gel polish. These Gel Dress Strips can last up to two weeks and can be finished with a topcoat or set with an LED lamp much like gel polishes. They will retail for $5.99 each.

With its strength in artificial nails, Kiss is also adding a line of ready-to-wear nails with a gel shine called Gel Fantasy, priced at $7.99. Reacting to runway trends, Kiss is offering a more rounded shape, as well.
Kiss is betting heavily on glitter and “galaxy” looks to set the tone for spring and has added nail designs to achieve those trendy looks.

One senior drugstore executive is putting her budget behind nail art to help offset soft nail-color sales. Tallon agreed there’s a big audience as witnessed by the flood of nail designs on Instagram. “We’ve seen people go to Michaels and buy items for nail art. So we said, ‘Why don’t we make a kit?’” recalled Tallon. Kiss now offers several options, such as the Kiss Nail Dress Mix It Up, Kiss Gel Fantasy Nail Kit and a Nail Art Starter Kit.

Also borrowing from craft stores, Kiss is adding nail stamps and nail tattoos.

To help consumers repair nail damage, Kiss is rolling out four kits, including one for cuticle care, a strengthening system, a growth kit and repair kit.

Finally, Kiss is also focusing on eyes with a major push in false eyelashes. To communicate the concept that the lashes are light, product packaging features the image of a feather. “Eyelashes are going to be a big thing next year. You can only do so much with mascara,” said Tallon of the trend. She said Kiss’ products are tapered at the end to offer a more natural look.