TV SHOPPING’S NEW DIMENSION

Byline: Julie Naughton

NEW YORK — The Home Shopping Network’s queen of beauty hopes to soon reign over the talk-show circuit as well.
Adrien Arpel, reportedly HSN’s single largest-selling beauty vendor, has signed an agreement with talk-show host Sally Jessy Raphael to produce a makeup kit to be sold on Raphael’s show.
The kit, called Sally’s Face in A Case by Adrien for Signature Club A, will include foundation, moisturizer with sunscreen, mascara, blush, lipstick, undereye concealer, a brush set, a silver makeup bag and a workbook penned by Arpel. “It is geared toward today’s busy woman — the one that doesn’t have more than 10 minutes to spend making up her face,” said Arpel.
The kit will sell for around $30 and will be promoted with a still-to-be-determined number of hour-long makeover shows featuring Arpel during the November ratings sweeps. Depending on response, Arpel will likely also appear on several Raphael shows in December — and assuming that sales are strong, Arpel and Raphael will work together to do an entire line of cosmetics under the talk-show hostess’s name.
The line would be sold on HSN with Raphael doing the promotional honors, and could bow as early as this spring.
Arpel has no doubts about the line’s success. “I think it’s going to be a blockbuster — in fact, in a short period of time, I think the Sally business will be just as large as my Signature Club A line for HSN,” she said.
That’s no small change. According to Arpel, her Signature Club A net sales topped $40 million in 1998, and she expects Signature Club A to do more than $50 million in net sales in 1999.
Arpel believes the Raphael project will create “a whole new way” to sell beauty products. “For instance, how many times have you watched ‘Friends’ and said to yourself, ‘I’d like to buy Monica’s sweater?’ It’s the same principle. This is the tomorrow of shopping.”
Order fulfillment will be handled by the Home Shopping Network, although the kit won’t be branded as an HSN item, said Morgan Hare, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for health and beauty at HSN. “We’ll order all the product and we’ll send it all out,” she said. “The entire process will seem seamless to the customer.” Depending on response, the set may also be sold on HSN later this fall, Hare said.
Given that Arpel and Raphael have known each other professionally and socially for more than 20 years — and that the USA Network owns HSN and produces Raphael’s show, the teaming made sense.
“Sally looked for a line that she felt would be viewer-friendly,” said Arpel. “They knew that I would make the concept super simple — and give them the same fine-quality products as are found in department store lines, but at a kit price.”
Arpel entered the home-shopping realm seven years ago after more than 30 years of selling cosmetics and running facial salons in department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Harrods.
“I was in department stores for 31 years, but I find that it’s so much easier to reach my customer with TV selling,” said Arpel. “When a woman is in the comfort of her own living room, and is watching me give a makeup lesson, she has a comfort level — not to mention no one’s pressuring her to buy anything. That becomes her decision, not a sales consultant’s.”
In fact, Arpel believes she is creating “the world’s largest beauty classroom” with her HSN segments. “When I went into department stores and heard what my sales consultants were telling customers, I was sometimes quite surprised,” she said. “There were times when I felt as if I was playing a game of Telephone — the message was going through about 10 people after it left me, and it didn’t always get passed along correctly. When I’m doing my segments, people are listening, and they have the opportunity to videotape them. Plus, I include a clearly written workbook with every order.”
Still, Arpel admits, her department store background gave her name recognition and a trust level with customers that has allowed her to do well in TV selling.
“When I first decided to go into home shopping, I decided to create as chic and elegant a line as anything I have ever sold — for much less money than anything I’d ever done before,” Arpel said. “Because customers had been buying my line in department stores and visiting my facial salons in those stores, they knew that I understood quality, and they trusted me.”
Arpel’s goal is to create a beauty line for every age group, and to that end, she is developing what she calls “a trendy line” chiefly geared to consumers in their 20s and 30s.
Arpel is working on the development with her daughter, Lauren. The line is due in spring 2000. “Lauren has her finger on the pulse of the younger generation,” said Arpel. “This line will be very contemporary, very youthful and very affordable, and there is a lot of room for trendy in the mass market right now.”
That’s not all Arpel has on her agenda. She is also working on a skin care line called Physician’s Advice Skin Care, which she is creating with John Martin, a Harvard-trained plastic surgeon. “Each skin care item is sold as a pair,” said Arpel. “The products work in tandem. The line is created so that different strengths of products are used on different days, and the theory is training for the skin. It’s a unique, new generation of products.” Arpel is also creating home-environment packages for HSN. “Candles and other environmental elements are growing so fast,” she said. “People are staying in more often, and they want those luxurious touches in their homes.” Arpel’s Makeover Your Room Home Environment Kits, which will retail for $29.95 each, include a scented candle on a decorative metal stand, a bag of potpourri, potpourri refresher oil, a 9-oz. body treatment cream, two soaps and a frosted soap dish. They will be available in three fragrances: French Vanilla, Lemon Verbena and Sea Mist. Each will be “heavily promoted” in two-minute commercials — rather than shows — on HSN in November and Decem-ber, said Hare.
“Television lends itself to big-volume business and brings the product alive for the customer,” said Arpel. “Honestly, I think I was born for this.”