NET GAINS: ONLINE COMPETITION HEATS UP AMONG BEAUTY SITES

Byline: Kerry Diamond

NEW YORK — The competition among beauty e-tailers continues to heat up.
New sites are making their debuts each week, more sites are announcing launch plans and existing sites are making improvements and adding features.
Ibeauty.com and Beautyscene.com are among the new sites that have launched in the past month. Ibeauty.com, one of the sponsors of 7th on Sixth, is receiving approximately 2,000 orders per week, according to Wendy Buckley, vice president of advertising and marketing. The average sale is between $50 and $75.
The company has hired Tina Sharkey, formerly of IVillage, Children’s Television Workshop and Q2, as president and chief executive officer.
Sales information was not available for Beautyscene.com, but a spokeswoman did note the site had received more than two million hits in its first three weeks, pre-advertising. Its ad campaign will launch on Oct. 1.
Two new sites — Blue-
mercury.com and Anthony.com — have announced plans to enter the virtual battle for the hearts and pocketbooks of web-savvy beauty junkies.
Bluemercury.com, set to go live in December, will be both a bricks-and-mortar store and a web site. Earlier this month, the company, led by former Internet investment consultant Marla Malcolm, bought EFX, the Washington beauty boutique and spa. EFX will be renamed Blue Mercury.
As reported, Malcolm hired Heidi Manheimer, former vice president and divisional merchandise manager for cosmetics at Barneys New York, to help develop the site, the store and the product lineup.
“Having the boutique enables us to have a deep relationship with the customer,” said Manheimer. “This is our lab, where we can develop customized solutions and test new product lines.”
Unlike many of the beauty web sites that already have launched, Bluemercury.com won’t feature a multitude of brands. “It’s going to be a carefully selected assortment and not necessarily entire lines,” noted Manheimer. “Why take the whole brand when the vendors could just do that on their own web sites?”
The site may be expanded in the future to include accessories and clothing, and the company may open additional Blue Mercury boutiques.
Anthony.com, a beauty e-tail site scheduled to launch around Valentine’s Day, is the brainchild of Anthony Sosnick, a real estate developer and manager.
“I wanted to get involved in an area that interested me and where I saw huge potential,” noted Sosnick. He was attracted to beauty because it is “really a recession-proof business. If times are good or bad, people always want to buy a lipstick and they always need bath and body products.”
Lori Karbal, who runs a Birmingham, Mich., beauty boutique under her name, will act as a consultant for the site.
Sosnick, whose company will be based in New York, expects to have 25 brands at launch time.
Both he and the Bluemerc-ury.com executives declined to name what brands they have signed so far.
Beautyjungle.com is gearing up for its late October launch. This site will be unusual in that it will be an authorized vendor of both mass and prestige lines, including Revlon, Oil of Olay, Neutrogena, Versace Profumi, Philosophy, 5S, Crabtree & Evelyn and Joey New York.
“We feel the mix more closely mimics how women shop,” said president Joanne Kauffman.
The company recently hired John Devine, a 21-year Procter & Gamble veteran, as senior vice president of sales. To create some buzz, Beauty-jungle.com sponsored the NYC 2000 fashion show earlier this month and distributed a lipstick designed by Philippe Prive exclusively for the site to attendees.
As another prelaunch promotion, the first 12,000 people who register on Beautyjungle.com starting in mid-October will receive three to five deluxe mini samples in a large zebra-print makeup bag designed by Jane Fox, a handbag design company here.
The Beautyjungle.com ad campaign breaks in November fashion magazines .
Jasmin.com, which launched Aug. 2 as an e-tail site specializing in fragrance, added Givaudan Roure’s 18th-century perfume bottle collection to its virtual museum on Sept. 20.
The flood of highly capitalized beauty sites with million-dollar ad campaigns hasn’t scared away young entrepreneurs looking to get a piece of the Internet action. Spacadet.com, an e-tail site that launched quietly on July 28, is the work of Jillian Raten-sperger, a skin care therapist based here. The site, featuring photography by Ratensperger’s dad plus cute illustrations by Tim Good, has a quirky mix of beauty products, such as Loofah Loafers, Get Fresh, Tom Girls, Dogfish, Femme Arsenal and Make Up For Ever.
Later this fall, Ratensperger will add several other lines, including Dirty Girl and the Daisy M cosmetics collection by makeup artist Linda Mason.
Ratensperger said that since launching she has received orders every day, including ones from places as far away as New Zealand.

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