Byline: Georgia Lee

ATLANTA — Despite a softness in the fragrance market, Southeastern drugstores expect sales for 1997 to pick up over last year’s figures, based largely on the strength of the color cosmetics category.
Long-lasting lipsticks and more variety in nail colors have boosted sales, backed by better marketing efforts by vendors, many retailers noted.
At Super D, a Memphis, Tenn.-based drugstore chain with 115 stores that carries cosmetics in 40 locations, beauty sales were slightly down last year.
But Kristy Bruce, cosmetics buyer, said she expects improved business in 1997, based partially on manufacturers’ new promotional and marketing efforts.
“Companies have learned that you can’t just put a product out there and expect it to sell,” she said. “You have to make consumers aware of choices through advertising, and we have to offer more promotions and coupons.”
She pointed to fresh advertising campaigns, such as Cover Girl’s use of new models, and themed promotions from leading vendors, such as the one Revlon did for its Streetwear nail colors, as examples that have helped business.
Makeup was the hottest category for Super D in 1996, with successful color promotion packages from Revlon, L’Oreal, Maybelline and Cover Girl. Nontraditional shades in nail polish and lipstick have also enlivened the category by bringing in young shoppers.
The Colorstay franchise is driving business for Revlon and has spawned similar products from vendors such as Maybelline and Almay, Bruce said.
Super D wants to increase sales in the bath category, which has been generating interest with shoppers, by creating an upscale presentation similar to the gift bath sections in department stores.
To accomplish the new look, Super D will have fewer vendors represented in more depth, Bruce said, and will stock new products, such as body sprays from Coty and Parfums de Coeur.
On the other hand, Super D’s fragrance business has been soft.
“We’re looking at basic stock, to streamline and strengthen what we need,” said Bruce.
Cosmeticians can help drive sales for fragrance and cosmetics, said Bruce. Super D has cosmeticians in a few selected stores, as well as four floating cosmetics supervisors, who serve as beauty advisers as well.
“Cosmeticians help in answering customers’ questions, opening up the fragrance business, which is primarily behind counters, and in encouraging multiple sales,” said Bruce.
Beauty sales at Harco, a Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based drugstore chain with 148 units, were slightly up in 1996, driven by color cosmetics and nail products.
“If you took those two categories out, business is flat,” said Penny Hall, category manager, cosmetics and fragrance.
Hall said the introduction of bold color in nail polish, as in Revlon’s Streetwear line, have jump-started sales, particularly to younger consumers.
Long-lasting color, as introduced in Revlon’s Colorstay line, followed by launches from other vendors, has also boosted color sales.
“When one category, either nails or lips, peaks, it affects the other,” said Hall.
Hair color has also been strong at the chain, where it is positioned as a cosmetics item to young people, as well as a cover for gray for aging baby boomers.
Harco carries cosmetics in 127 units, with cosmeticians on staff in 90 percent of those stores.
“We have to offer service in cosmetics,” said Hall. “Cosmeticians can offer help to consumers who need knowledge, as well as to hurried shoppers on their lunch hour.”
The fragrance business has been in decline for the past two years at Harco and was down between 10 and 15 percent for 1996, due to a variety of problems, said Hall. “Manufacturers have created a monster, with too many fragrances, too many items and oversized prepacks,” said Hall. “There are too many outlets for the consumer to buy fragrance.”
Hall called for more concerted efforts between vendors and retailers in marketing, inventory and promotional products to help improve the situation.

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