DALLAS — The mass market is after a few good men.

Actually, the industry is hoping to lure more than just a few men into drug, food and discount stores.

Mass stores, particularly drugstores, are typically frequented by women. But, at the recent Efficient Consumer Response Management cosmetics and bath show, held here from Sunday through Thursday, many suppliers were showing items designed to appeal to men — or at least to women buying for men.

It isn’t surprising men are the new targets — supplanting teens which had become a favorite market segment for suppliers over the past five years. Men are now coming out of the grooming closet and buying their own products. There are salons dedicated to pampering only male clientele such as Nickel.

Mass marketers don’t want to be outclassed. During 20-minute meetings at the show, attended by more than 80 retail chains ranging from J.C. Penney to Price Chopper Supermarkets, suppliers talked about a bevy of products for men.

The show, which has emerged into one of the most important beauty gatherings in the mass business, attracted more than 90 suppliers ranging from niche marketers such as Jordana to mega-powers like Procter & Gamble and L’Oreal.

Aladdin Fragrances touted its new Pierre Cardin Grooming Essentials which the company hopes will introduce the venerable Pierre Cardin name to younger users. According to Michelle Wasik, it is the first designer toiletry line for mass that will be merchandised within men’s toiletries.

To reflect the tastes of young men, she added, there is a hair and body wash, rather than a soap on a rope.

To help entice male users, the line is being launched with an incentive to win a trip to Paris. The face behind the line, designer Pierre Cardin, has recently been granting interviews to discuss his direct input into the product lineup. “Too many fashion names have come and gone, my products have longevity,” Cardin told WWD in early February. The Grooming Essentials range from a 6.8-ounce hair and body wash priced at $6.49 to a 7-ounce shave gel for $3.99.

Men are also the newest prey for Markwins International Group. Markwins has cornered the teenage market with its ACT line of blockbuster makeup collections. While continuing to build upon that business, the company now has several men’s grooming implement collections including a whimsical moustache kit housed in a butcher block. Pricing on the men’s implements ranges from $4.99 to $14.99. “We’re trying to bring our value to the implement business,” explained Eric Weeks, divisional sales manager.

A.J. Siris Products also singled out retailer interest in men dopp kits. “We’re really getting attention on these,” said George Spencer, vice president of sales, about the kits, which he said retail between $7.50 and $15.00.

Other new men’s initiatives include Nivea for Men and Neutrogena Men. Frederick Fekkai will also introduce men’s hair products within the next few months.

Although men are emerging as a market to tap, teen merchandise was still ubiquitous at the meeting. Now that retailers have committed to teens, suppliers want to be the vehicle of choice. Just Having Fun turned its room into a teen’s dream with new collections such as Army Brats, featuring lip balm in Army-inspired containers like dog tags and bearing names such as Rescue Mission and Pretty Piggies, a pedicure set housed on the facsimile of a foot. The company also debuted clever note pads packaged with cosmetics. “You always have to do something different for the teen market,” said Myra Solomon, vice president of the line, which is marketed at mass under the Petunia label. Huge drawings of the character Petunia serve as displays for the cosmetics.

The fickle nature of young shoppers isn’t lost on a new vendor at the ECRM show, Peace & Love. Peace & Love’s items range from glitter paper — which leaves behind a residue of sparkle — to eyelash bindis. And, the company’s packaging and literature all shows a very diverse customer base to help retailers tap Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian and African-American shoppers.

AM Cosmetics introduced an arsenal of new items to help show retailers the company is leveraging its power in the budget segment. Among the newest items are an eye chalk, a glassy lip gel and a face illuminator. “The time it takes for new items to get from department stores to value is faster than ever,” explained Valerie Wass, director of marketing. She also said AM has edited its popular Halloween collections down to only the best-sellers to help retailers hit sell-through goals for 2002.

Jordana Cosmetics Corp. also showed retailers it is revving up its new products. A new eye shadow called Kaleidoscope has been one of the firm’s best launches, said Bob Wallner, vice president of the Los Angeles-based firm. That’s being followed up by Reflexxions — chrome lip and eye pencils that capitalize on the popularity of chrome nail colors.

Jordana is also relaunching the Milani line of cosmetics for women of color. There’s new packaging for the products, which will be available in June and will retail between $1.99 and $4.99. “There’s a terrific opportunity with Milani,” said Laurie Minc, president of Jordana, which gained the rights to Milani last year. Jordana’s selection caught the eye of Naomi Germano, cosmetic buyer for Harmon Drug. “They have some really nice things,” she said in the hallway while running to another meeting.

Marti Bentley, buyer for Duane Reade, also liked the jewelry ideas from Illusions International Inc. Illusions is offering mass retailers, especially drug chains, a self-serve method of selling more jewelry. One collection called Nick & Dani is a unisex collection aimed at young shoppers. “We have many items that the boys wear, too,” explained Liz Pal, vice president of the firm based on Toronto.

Getting teens to wear more false eyelashes is a goal of several new launches at American International Industries. New are girlfriend lashes bearing girls’ names and different looks such as lashes with jewels. The company also has a yearly rebate on the price of lashes to bring in new users, according to David Woolf, executive vice president. Also new this year from his firm is a gel eye makeup remover to assist in cleaning up the long-wearing formulas as well as a collection of tea bath products called “Brewed Moods.” American is also getting into the at-home facial market with Personal Face Spa, priced around $88.99.

The show was also devoted to the bath category. In a special room exhibiting new entries was a huge array of bath products from Masada. A company also looking to get more heavily into mass doors was Bradford Soap Works with both private label and branded customized bath collections. Enchante also had a busy room where buyers eyed its bath kits, as well as its upscale Country Belle assortment of home fragrance products including linen spray and candles. “What really makes us different is that we’ve put the bath and bedroom together with these products,” explained Bob Greening, president of personal care for Enchante Accessories.

Retailers attending the meeting were upbeat and said both bath and cosmetics sales are coming out of the winter doldrums for spring.

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