TINKERBELL SET TO FLY AGAIN
Byline: Faye Brookman
NEW YORK — Renaissance Cosmetics hopes to sprinkle some magic on the Tinkerbell brand of children’s cosmetics and toiletries.
“It’s a classic Renaissance example,” said Lisa Yarnell, vice president of marketing for the Dana Perfumes division of Renaissance. “It is a line that was lacking attention that we can redirect.”
In just a few years, Renaissance has emerged as a power player in the mass market beauty business via a series of acquisitions of struggling brands, such as the Chantilly and Tabu fragrances, which have since been turned around.
Renaissance now has similar resurrection plans for Tinkerbell, which it acquired as part of its purchase of MEM last November.
“What’s really nice is that we can borrow from our other brands such as Cosmar for nail and Nat Robbins for cosmetics,” Yarnell said, referring to the company’s ability to tap into the technology and marketing know-how of its other properties.
Tinkerbell, based on the character from “Peter Pan” and launched in 1952, had seen its annual sales sink from a high of around $30 million in the early Eighties to $10 million to $15 million under MEM, which put its focus more on fragrances like English Leather rather than the tots’ line.
Yarnell hopes to propel sales back up to $30 million or so within three years. To do so, Renaissance first edited the line from more than 100 stockkeeping units to 40.
There are now four general groupings: cosmetics, grooming aids, accessories and toys. The products include everything from slippers teamed with lipsticks to a pretend-princess crown. Yarnell expects the best movers to be nail polish kits.
Prices range from 99 cents for a lip balm to $9.99 for a travel kit.
“We’re taking a dim sum approach,” said Yarnell. “Retailers can choose what they want based on price and package-size groups.”
After slimming down the line, Renaissance set its sights on giving the Fifties packaging a fresh appearance. The trademark pink color was brightened and an updated Tinkerbell was designed. The new packaging will start shipping in August.
Another intended growth avenue, Yarnell said, is to reach more kids and expand the distribution base. Tinkerbell’s original target was children from ages four to nine, but with the new mix and packaging, the company expects to extend the reach up to 12-year-olds.
Tinkerbell is now distributed in about 15,000 mass, specialty and department store doors, and Yarnell hopes to double that number, especially by adding more drugstores and supermarkets. The company also sees opportunities for extensive Tinkerbell outposting during the Christmas season.
International growth will also feed sales, said Yarnell, noting that the brand sells “a tremendous amount of merchandise in the United Kingdom and we have a good business in South Africa.”
Renaissance has also moved production from a company-owned location to a contract manufacturer, which Yarnell said is more cost-effective for the line.
A final strategy for reviving Tinkerbell will be to pump new advertising dollars into it. The words and imagery are just being created and Yarnell has not completed a budget, but Yarnell said there will be print and radio support for the line this year.
New campaigns and increased spending for its acquired properties have been major factors in Renaissance’s ability to breathe new life into fragrances such as Chantilly and Canoe, Yarnell pointed out.
Renaissance is confident in laying out the cash for Tinkerbell because it is the only full-line children’s “play” cosmetics and grooming line in the market, Yarnell asserted.
She acknowledged that many shoppers have concerns about children wearing makeup, but says Tinkerbell is about fun and grooming.
“Little girls are going to play with makeup anyway, and it is better to make sure it is something like Tinkerbell, which is nontoxic and spill-proof,” she said.
Retailers have long toyed with the question of where to merchandise Tinkerbell — the toiletries, toys or cosmetics department. Although Renaissance is not dictating a location, the company suggests a home near the cosmetics area.
Renaissance has hired brokers to handle Tinkerbell’s sales to the trade; they will report to Bill Cherella, Renaissance’s new vice president of sales for the Tinkerbell brand.
When Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia couldn’t find a fragrance that reminded her of the perfume worn by her maternal grandmother — Her Imperial and Royal Highness, the Grand Duchess of Russia — she created it on her own.
The result is a signature scent called E, developed by International Flavors & Fragrances, which will be launched on QVC on April 29.
E is being distributed by La Merveille, a joint venture between the Princess and the Griffin Group — Merv Griffin’s investment and management organization.
Princess Elizabeth, who lives in Manhattan, will appear on QVC to introduce the line, which will include a 0.25-oz. perfume for $125, a 1.7-oz. eau de parfum for $41 and a limited-edition 1-oz. size for $28.
The bottle and packaging feature Princess Elizabeth’s family crown and the initial “E.”
E, which will also be available in all Merv Griffin-owned resort hotels, is expected by industry sources to have initial sales of at least $1 million through the end of the year.
“I wanted to recreate a smell that gives a feeling of happiness. You wear it and you feel good,” said Princess Elizabeth, during an interview this week in a Waldorf Towers suite decorated with family possessions.
The Princess believes the scent may attract a slightly older shopper, perhaps over 45.
“There are a lot of wealthy, older insomniacs who watch TV,” she joked.
Princess Elizabeth was born in the former Yugoslavia to Prince Paul, Regent of Yugoslavia, and Princess Olga of Greece. Forced to flee the country after the German invasion, she was raised in Kenya.
She plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from her new fragrance to the Princess Elizabeth Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization that distributes medical aid and health care as well as scholarships.
To promote the royal scent, QVC will send samples to regular viewers, said Betty Broder, director of beauty for QVC. Broder said she’s confident that E will overcome the challenges associated with selling fragrance over the tube.
“We’ll be presenting the history, the royalty and the warmth of the Princess,” she said. “And of course we have our 30-day money-back guarantee if people aren’t happy — but we don’t expect that.”