Byline: Faye Brookman

NEW YORK — Sometimes niche players grow into big guys.
That’s the case with Sassaby Inc.’s Jane cosmetics, which, with the addition of nail color, is now a total cosmetics line aimed at teenagers and young women. Jane’s annual retail sales are estimated by industry executives at $30 million.
Jane decided to add nail color to its lip, face and eye assortment, according to Howard Katkov, Sassaby president and chief executive officer, after receiving frequent requests from the chains.
“Retailers told us we should be in nail,” he said. “Nail has been hot for the last two years, and we stayed out until we could establish brand loyalty, which we now have.”
Nail polish, he added, is a perfect category for Jane because teens and young women are among the heaviest users of and experimenters with nail color.
Don Pettit, president of Sassaby’s cosmetics division, estimated that between 12 and 25 percent of the $473 million spent on nail products is spent in mass market stores.
Jane’s entry is called Hot Tips and will ship to roughly 6,000 doors starting July 1. Pettit thinks the colors will appeal to youthful shoppers who are not currently being served by what’s available on the market.
“They may have been compromising. Now we’re bringing four color ranges that have been researched with consumers. And we will be shipping in new colors every six months,” Pettit noted, saying that would provide the opportunity to stay on the cutting edge of color.
“Five years ago nail color was boring brown and pink,” he said. “Now nail is part of the excitement; teens are driving the color trends, and Jane is going to be part of the excitement.”
The four color collections are: Power Pales, Knockout Neutrals, Party Hearty and Wild Things. The fashion excitement will mostly come from the Party Hearty and Wild Things classifications. Party Hearty, for example, kicks off with reds and glitter shades. Wild Things include jewel blue tones, greens and a yellow, appropriately called Taxi.
In total there are 32 colors, carrying a suggested retail price of $2.99 per item — the same price as other Jane items.
Additionally, there are ancillary items called Manic Cure, which include a nail strengthener, a ridge filler and a shiny top coat as well as an emery board, a file and a buffer. “With Jane cosmetics we made sure we sold applicators, and we want to do the same in nail,” said Pettit.
Hot Tips are available as promotional displays, or the 32 colors can be inserted into existing Jane fixtures on peg cosmetics wall. Katkov said there is also a special fixture that can be affixed to the sides of end-of-aisle displays to hold the nail colors.
With the launch of Hot Tips, Jane becomes the first manufacturer of teen-oriented products to offer a full nail program. Other lines targeted at youths, such as Sel-Leb’s Loud Music and Fun’s nail colors, are available only on a promotional basis.
The new line introduction comes on the heels of 87 other new items Jane launched in March. Hot Tips should add an additional $2 million to Jane’s sales base. Although Jane was founded as a niche player to serve teenagers’ needs, its products are now found on Information Resources Inc.’s top-10 seller lists — a testament to Jane’s pull with not only teens but older customers as well. Many chains such as Wal-Mart and Phar-Mor, however, primarily stock Jane to please the teenage market.
Drugstore chain executives agree that more must be done to attract young shoppers to stores. “We have to do more to build loyalty with young customers, and cosmetics and nail color is a good way to do that,” said Beth Kaplan, executive vice president of marketing for Rite Aid Corp., Camp Hill, Pa.
Hot Tips also comes at a time of fervent growth for nail color. Pettit doesn’t think the industry has seen the end of the color explosion. “Sure there are cycles. But when you see female executives in blue nail color, you know this is just the beginning. Color overall is going to explode, and the kids are going to be the ones to make it happen.”

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