RETAILERS RESPOND TO TO BEAUTY’S NEW BAG

Byline: Faye Brookman

NEW YORK — The flood of new beauty products aimed at the youth market has spawned a new category — cosmetics totes to haul around all the pots of glitter.
“We saw a need for cosmetics bags and [plastic] train cases emerging after lines like Jane were launched and Bonne Bell reemerged,” said Jane Thompson, senior vice president of Accessory Network, New York. “Kids love carrying their things around.”
With retailers eyeing new ways to bring preteens and teens into their stores, they are looking for related merchandise to build multiple sales.
Cosmetics cases are one of the categories getting a nod from chains such as HEB, Ames, ShopKo and Eckerd. Buyers find the category attractive since it produces gross margins of 40 percent and up versus cosmetics’ average of 30 percent.
Industry sources estimate cosmetics cases — both soft and hard — rack up sales of about $125 million.
Buyers said the cases for young shoppers represent the greatest opportunity. Accessory Network, a company that has major licenses such as Pokemon, PowerPuff girls, Mickey and Winnie the Pooh, has responded with plastic travel cases adorned with the characters.
“We thought there was room in the market for cases with characters; people have an affinity for the characters,” said Thompson. Called Lootables, the carry cases retail for between $9 and $12.99. Thompson added that retailers are starting to return to stocking licenses, after some skepticism in the past five years. “Retailers are looking for ways to link to fashion, and they see that many of these licenses are here to stay.”
Another company hoping to capture sales with cosmetics organizers is Plano Molding with its Caboodles brand. Caboodles is one of the original name brands in cosmetics organizers.
Plano introduced the boxes in the Eighties after seeing that women were using fishing tackle boxes to store makeup. Looking to build on the Caboodles name, Plano has licensed the name to go beyond hard cosmetics cases to soft-sided bags, as well as beauty products, such as makeup, hair accessories and body care. Most of the cases retail for $.599 to $9.99 each.
ShopKo, based in Green Bay, Wis., said Wednesday that it will expand a test of Caboodles boutiques that started in a few stores. Immediate plans call for rollout to 25 stores. Distribution will be expanded to the entire chain next spring. The boutiques pull all of the Caboodles merchandise together into one area.
Other manufacturers are also looking to tap into the surge in cosmetics bags. At Living Things, the manufacturer of Caboodles’ soft-sided bags, the direction is to add more value, according to Tony Choueke, president of the company. “Extra value is what’s hot now,” he said. Examples include vinyl bags with several inside compartments and a line for travel, called Denali. He also said colors are shifting from silver and black to bright colors and patterns.
At A.J. Siris Products Corp., another manufacturer of cosmetics organizers, the decision has been made to create a new business — desktop plastic organizers for beauty products. “We see a lot of competition in the cases, so we have a new product for women to put on their bureaus,” said George Spencer, vice president, sales for the company. “Drugstores can bring these in on an in-and-out [promotional] basis,” he added of the counter organizers that retail for $9.97 to $12.99 each.

Beauty marketers aren’t only targeting teenage girls. Several firms, seeing a sales explosion of youth brands, are extending their reach to customers as young as four.
Fing’rs of Camarillo, Calif., for example, is rolling out Little Fing’rs, a collection of artificial nails, nail art and polish for girls between four and 12.
Little Fing’rs includes Teeny Weeny Bears, nail tips packaged with hair clips, nail art and a mini manicure kit. “Retailers have asked us for special displays and products for younger children with small fingers,” said Len InDelicato, president.
Some retailers who formerly stocked Tinkerbell, a line currently being revamped under new owners, said they are using that space to test out the 27 stockkeeping units that comprise Little Fing’rs. Price points range from $2.19 to $3.49.

Shoppers Drug Mart is continuing to refine its new look for the millennium — despite the fact that it and its parent, Imasco Ltd., has been put on the block by British American Tobacco. Shoppers Drug Mart, based in Toronto, has unveiled a 7,000-square-foot prototype in Toronto that features the chain’s most upscale beauty department.
Designed with input from cosmetics manufacturers, the department represents the chain’s efforts at assisted self-service. Although a drug chain, Shoppers Drug Mart was one of a handful of mass retailers maintaining fully serviced departments.
Now beauty consultants stroll the aisles, assisting customers as needed. In addition to branded beauty products, the store stocks Shoppers’ new private label brand ,called Quo, as well as its Rialto bath line. The store features a special nutraceutical department with vitamins designed to help improve skin and fight wrinkles.
Shoppers Drug Mart operates more than 800 stores throughout Canada. The chain has designed four other store footprints, created to fit the clientele of a store’s neighborhood. Financial analysts said that possible suitors for Drug Mart and Imasco include Jean Coutu Group, Loblaw, Walgreen Co. and Katz Group.