A SAMPLE OF FALL’S BEAUTY FEST
Byline: Lisa Lockwood / With contributions from Kerry Diamond
NEW YORK — If you build it, they will come — maybe.
With the beauty business in the doldrums the last two years, many fashion and beauty magazines have taken big hits in this all-important category. Publishers, in fact, have continually blamed lackluster beauty results on fewer fragrance launches, which keeps the activity level down at department stores.
Come fall, magazines are banking on a beauty comeback and are making major statements by creating special issues in October.
Launches such as Ralph Lauren’s Romance, Calvin Klein’s Contradiction for Men, Estee Lauder’s Dazzling and Lancome’s O Oui, are expected to jumpstart magazine results in the second half.
So far this year, results have been disappointing. According to Publishers Information Bureau, through May, cosmetics and toiletries magazine ad revenues inched up only 2.1 percent — off weak year-ago numbers — to $459.3 million. Certain sub-groups such as cosmetics/beauty aids and hair products showed ad revenue declines of 2.4 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively, while personal hygiene products gained 19.3 percent in ad revenues.
But publishers are eager to turn October into beauty month, the same way September has become synonymous with fashion.
Among the new developments for fall:
Allure, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Elle and Self are all expanding their beauty coverage in October, with special issues or features devoted to the category. Allure will offer its third annual “Best of Beauty” issue; Cosmo will launch its “Beauty Best Gets” issue; Glamour will feature “The Great Make-Up Try On”; Elle will double its beauty editorial in a special beauty issue, and Self will publish the “Ultimate Self Service Guide.” Mirabella will offer what’s tentatively titled “The Tech Report,” in its September/October issue that will examine skin treatments, cosmetics and cosmetic surgery.
Allure and Glamour will experiment with an editorial sampling program that will allow readers to try lipsticks and eye makeup, right off the pages. Samples of the cosmetics, packaged by Arcade, will be attached to the editorial pages of Allure in September, and Glamour in October.
“We’ll be doing a big fall color story, using samples of eye shadows, lipstick and blush. We selected products indicative of the colors we believe in for fall,” said Linda Wells, editor in chief of Allure.
Wells said that in the past, Allure has shown the season’s colors as a blob on a page. It will still show the blobs, but as actual samples in foil packages. Allure’s cost of doing this project is in “the six figures,” said Wells, declining to give the exact number.
Eight beauty products will be featured in the insert, which will run on heavier-weight 70-lb. stock, versus the usual 40-lb. paper. Wells revealed the issue will feature such products as raspberry, burgundy and mauve lipsticks and gunmetal and lavender eye shadows.
Allure, whose fortunes are particularly tied to the ups and downs of the beauty business, will publish its usual 1.2 million copies of the magazine with the samples inside, but is expecting strong sell-throughs.
Glamour plans to sample lipsticks, eye shadows, blushes and powder in its October issue, said Charla Krupp, beauty editor.
Glamour’s beauty story carries the theme, “Make-up is Fun Again.” The idea, according to Krupp, is “Let’s throw out all the rules of a lipstick is a lipstick, and eye shadow is eye shadow. Why not try eye shadow on your lips? The reader can try the edgiest products out there, and they don’t have to pay for it. If they like it, they can buy it.”
Since Glamour is noted for its “real women” coverage, the beauty story will show faces, with samples to try over the eyes, lips and cheeks, said Krupp. “It’s the ultimate interactive service,” she said.
“We picked the most cutting edge colors that we wanted our readers to test out, and then we went to find out if we could get them in bulk.”
Glamour, which always runs 1-800 numbers on its pages, will have a designated number available so readers can purchase the sampled products directly from Bloomingdale’s, said Mary Berner, publisher of Glamour.
“Readers can order the products through 1-800 numbers, so we can tell how successful this program has been,” added Krupp.
Although October hasn’t closed yet, Berner expects the issue to carry more than last year’s 225.6 ad pages.
A spokeswoman for Estee Lauder, which provided samples of an All Day rose sapphire lipstick to Allure and a True bronzino lipstick for Glamour, described the sampling concept as “a breakthrough.”
“A reader cannot only read about the product, but can test it. It will have a tremendous affect on people coming into the store, who may like the lipstick but may not want that color, but will try other colors,” she said.
Roger Barnett, president and chief executive officer of Arcade, which created the fragrance ScentStrip in 1979, thinks he’s onto something big. “Letting the consumers try the products they are recommending turns the magazines into a multidimensional, multisensory experience.
“Conde Nast is funding the entire cost of the sampling,” said Barnett, noting that the cost to the beauty companies, which provide what is called “the bulk,” the actual sample of lipstick or eye shadow, isn’t that great.
“The cost is not prohibitive. Generally, bulk is not that expensive and we don’t need that much of it. The bulk would be the smallest component of the media or production charge,” said Barnett.
Catherine Viscardi Johnston, executive vice president at Conde Nast, said the project costs the publishing company “a boat load of money; it’s a very expensive process.” She declined to divulge the actual cost.
She said Conde Nast “doesn’t have at the moment any exclusive arrangement, but we have the premiere arrangement. There’s no reason others can’t do it; we have no contractual arrangement.”
The magazine pages with the samples will be produced at the Arcade facility in Chattanooga, Tenn., and overseen by Conde Nast quality control executives, said Johnston.
Meantime, Allure, which introduced its “Best of Beauty” issue three years ago, seems to have started a new trend.
Cosmopolitan will launch its first “Beauty Best Gets” issue in October, a 24-page focused section on beauty. According to Bonnie Fuller, editor in chief of Cosmo, the plan is to report on new products, offer tips from well-known hair stylists and makeup artists and do a Hollywood “Best Gets” section that focuses on celebrities and their makeup choices.
Bucking the downturn trend in beauty, Cosmo’s beauty business was up 9 percent in the first half, said Donna Kalajian, publisher.
For October, Allure will reprise its annual “Best of Beauty” issue that highlights editor’s top picks [all tested by the editors], as well as the results of a Reader’s Poll conducted in May, polling 2,000 readers on such topics as their favorite lipsticks, moisturizers, shampoos, eye shadows and fragrances. Last October, Allure’s average newsstand sales shot up 34 percent for its “Best of Beauty” issue.
Alexandra Golinkin, publisher of Allure, said that when the magazine conducted research six months after last year’s “Best of Beauty” issue came out, it found that 66 percent of its readers purchased something mentioned in the editorial; 50 percent purchased something mentioned in the ads, and 40 percent switched brands because of something they read in the editorial.
Allure’s beauty business in the first half was off about 10 percent due to no advertising from Revlon fragrances, the Donna Karan Beauty Co. and Renaissance Cosmetics, said Golinkin. She expects total ad pages to be up 10 percent in both September and October, due to the plethora of fragrance launches.
Allure will run an ad campaign, beginning in July, promoting its “Best of Beauty” issue. It will also print an additional 200,000 copies of the magazine that will be sent to every salon in the U.S.
Asked what she thinks of Cosmo doing its own “Best Beauty Gets” issue the same month, Golinkin said, “I think Cosmo appreciates that Allure has a very good idea, and they’re trying to imitate it. Allure’s recognized as the beauty bible.”
Cosmo’s Fuller said she’s running her section in October because “it’s a process of elimination. We have commitments for other months. And we wanted to talk about things coming out right then.”
Elle has moved its special beauty issue from November to October this fall, and will double its beauty editorial in October, said Jean Godfrey-June, beauty and fitness director. “The theme is the transformative power of beauty. But where other magazines will do before and after makeovers, we’ll zero in on the things that transform a woman,” said Godfrey-June.
Self magazine’s “The Ultimate Self Service Guide,” takes the service approach. Categories include beauty, nutrition, fitness, fashion and finance. The guide comprises three-quarters of the issue, said Beth Brenner, publisher. Among the beauty topics are: “Hair stylists that make house calls,” “The Top 10 Day Spas,” “How to save a botched color job” and “Best places to get (cheap but) great facials.”