FUN VENTURES INTO CLASS

Byline: Faye Brookman

NEW YORK — Fun Cosmetics is flirting with the other side.
Normally a resource for trendy promotions in chain stores, Fun has crossed the mass-class line and started selling to Bloomingdale’s. The division of Federated Department Stores first experimented with Fun last Halloween when it sold a themed promotional kit, called FUN NYC, that included a combination of cosmetics for party wear.
According to Kristin Penta, founder and creative director of Fun, the item was so successful that Bloomingdale’s decided to continue the relationship with the Hillside, N.J.-based manufacturer by carrying other seasonal kits.
Bloomingdale’s is currently stocking a Millennium promotion from Fun called Petal to the Metal, a kit with hair glitter spray, metallic eyelashes and graphite nail polish, retailing for $10.
For spring, the retailer will sell Fun’s So Citrus, a case resembling an orange peel filled with two fruit-flavored lip glosses and retailing for $10.
“These are great values,” said Penta. “The Millennium kit is perfect for a person who doesn’t want to spend too much on an item she’ll wear once with her glitter halter for New Year’s Eve.”
To differentiate the offer from Fun’s mass market goods, all labels at Bloomingdale’s are labeled Fun Exclusively at Bloomingdale’s. Penta said Bloomingdale’s executives opted to keep the Fun name because Penta is building a following among young customers who see her on television, when she periodically is interviewed about fashion trends on CNN. Penta will also be making personal appearances at Bloomingdale’s flagship store in Manhattan.
The products are located in Bloomingdale’s Trend section, near other edgy beauty brands such as Urban Decay and Hard Candy. “Bloomingdale’s realized they needed fashion items that shoppers could pick up as gifts that were affordable, or products that allow people to try new trends without a major investment,” Penta noted.
A big difference between working with prestige retailers versus mass, said Penta, is the shorter lead time needed by department stores. “You can’t show a mass retailer something for Valentine’s Day; they are working on back-to-school.”
Penta, however, hopes her foray into department stores will further enhance her products for mass. “We always try to be the class of mass,” she said. “People are cross-shopping, so it isn’t unusual to buy some things at Bloomingdale’s and others at Duane Reade.”
Fun is expanding its reach in mass-market doors, too. Traditionally a line brought in to add promotional excitement at Walgreen Co., the company now has a permanent display throughout the chain’s store base. Industry sources estimate that Fun’s added distribution could push retail sales to the $10 million by the end of 2000.
“We were doing a private label pencil program for Walgreens with a 3.5-inch pencil priced at 59 cents and a 7-inch pencil for 79 cents. We decided if we were doing well without a brand, imagine how well we could do by adding the name,” Penta said. The display will also feature Eyebrows 101, a kit to help groom eyebrows including tweezers, grooming gel, brush, two shadows and a training booklet. “Eyebrows are the hottest thing, but many people don’t know how to do their own. This kit has everything you need,” she said. The kit retails for $5.99.
Fun is also branching beyond color into face makeup, but in the tradition of the firm, it is in a unique method. “When I went out to buy shoe polish, it occurred to me to make face polish,” said Penta of her products that are packaged in shoe polish tins with a suggested retail of $5.99. New makeup sponges are available with whimsical decorations called Sassy Sponges. Penta, seeing an upswing in permanent lip stains, created Lip Juice, a semi-permanent lip stain for the mass market with a price tag of $2.99.
Another new lip product is a lip gloss called So Phat, No Fat, and includes flavors like strawberry shortcake and tiramisu. “And if you can’t put some on, you can scratch the scratch and sniff label and get a whiff,” Penta said.
While there’s a plethora of new lines bombarding the teenage shopper, Penta said Fun has noticed its reach is extending to women in their 30s and 40s. “We noticed we were getting editorial in magazines like Woman’s Day and Good Housekeeping. Working women or new moms don’t always have the time to shop a department store — they appreciate running into the drugstore and finding items like ours,” she said.
Despite the addition of older consumers, Penta said her products will remain on the cutting edge without being too trendy. “We’ve never been a bubble gum line.”
Penta said Fun Cosmetics is also being offered on a new Web site, Beautyjungle.com. “We went with them because they set up their site to have mass and class products. I think customers understand that because they go back and forth between prestige and mass brands,” she said.

There’s a new team at Rite Aid Corp. and they plan to maintain, rather than sell, the remaining stores on the West Coast. Robert G. Miller, a former top executive with Kroger Company and Fred Meyer Inc., has been tapped as chairman and chief executive, following the departure of Martin Grass.
Grass, son of the chain’s founder, was forced out of the chain in October after announcing Rite Aid would have to restate its profits for the past three years. In addition to Miller, Mary F. Sammons was named president and chief operating officer. She, too, had been at Fred Meyer.
The new team, familiar with retailing on the West Coast from Fred Meyer, wants to clean up the 1,000 stores and re-merchandise them in hopes of winning back shoppers.

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