MILAN — Lord & Berry, an American mass market cosmetics manufacturer, has entered the European market with an eye to bridging the mass and prestige markets.
In March, Lord & Berry, based in White Plains, N.Y., opened a European subsidiary here, and in May the new company began rolling out distribution. Its wide assortment of eye and lip colors are now available on a limited test basis in the U.K., Germany, Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon.
Hoping consumers will be attracted to the quality and pricing of its makeup, the company is aiming for sales of $850,000 for the last eight months of 1997. The firm projects sales of $2 million for 1998.
Under a strategy devised by director Paolo Blayer, Lord & Berry Europe plans to create visibility and brand awareness on the Continent by targeting a variety of retail channels in the high end of the mass market, in addition to pharmacies, perfumeries and variety stores.
Lord & Berry has targeted different retail channels in each market — ranging from hypermarkets to perfumeries, pharmacies and variety stores and has set different goals for each country. But the company has especially high expectations for the U.K., Germany and Eastern Europe.
According to Blayer, who previously was international sales director for the U.S. and Europe at Intercos Italia, “Europe is an important market for us and will give us the opportunity to grow and better understand trends in fashion and the prestige cosmetics.” The company is in the initial stages of talks with potential agents or distributors in most markets, and hopes to find a representative in each country. “When we reach a certain sales figure, we will consider country managers,” Blayer said.
The new year will bring operational consolidation to unify companywide purchasing and logistics, and in 1999 Lord & Berry plans to consolidate financial operations.
In 1998, Lord & Berry plans to penetrate Italy, France, several smaller Western European markets, Eastern Europe and North Africa. In Germany, it is sold in 10 doors, including three in the 15-door Weber perfumery chain.
Although Douglas, a German perfumery chain, met with Lord & Berry, the companies are not expected to decide if they will do business until 1998. In early September, Lord & Berry reached an agreement with a pharmacy in Ireland and plans to enter 200 stores by the end of the year.
Blayer has high hopes for a wide range of Italian retail channels, including variety stores like Standa, medium-to-high-end perfumeries and selected supermarket doors. By the end of 1998, it hopes to be in 200 points of sale.
Blayer hopes to launch the brand at Esselunga, a prominent supermarket chain, which is experimenting with in-store perfumeries with assisted self-service in selected doors.
The color range is being tested at Profumeria Merli here. On a promotional note, the company co-sponsored an art show here in the spring where it distributed samples of cosmetics with a questionnaire.
According to Blayer, “We met with a barrage of inquiries. The respondents were amazed at our low prices.” Eastern Europe — Hungary, Russia, the Czech Republic and Poland, in particular — hold promise, given the price-to-quality ratio of the cosmetics and the region’s limited purchasing power.
Blayer noted, “It is a challenge, but we are excited about the prospects there.”
The company is in serious talks with Caola Cosmetics, Hungary’s largest distributor in the mass market.
Lord & Berry also sees strong potential in Russia, despite the volatile business climate there and obvious risks involved. It foresees great rewards in the long run, according to executives.
Lord & Berry believes its flexibility and wide assortment of innovative eye and lip colors offering “maximum functions” will help it conquer new markets, according to Blayer.
The company has earmarked its Maximatte lip color for the lower end of the mass market and the comprehensive Lipstique lip range and Dramateyes eye range for more upscale retailers.
Trendy pencils in a range of sizes and colors dominate. The Couture collection, which is available exclusively in beauty and hair salons in the U.S., is sold in Weber perfumeries in Germany because the retailer has in-store estheticians.
Lord & Berry also hopes to catch the eye of European beauty shoppers with the Implements makeup tools line. The innovative makeup pencils feature a range of applicators, like lip and brow brushes.
“Companies are starting to copy the concept, but no one does it like we do,” added Blayer. The American company also has a specialized merchandising strategy that should help it stand out overseas.
Products are showcased in sleek, modular merchandise displays that can be stacked. A typical unit is a five-cube display; all have tester drawers with samples of every stockkeeping unit.
Retailers can tailor their color selection to customer needs. “One of the Morley stores in England chose a more ethnic range, which has been a huge success,” said Blayer.
The company hopes to use special voice technology in talking shelf units that give consumers information at the push of a bottom. The feature is planned for units that will be installed in the U.S. by the second half of 1998. The technology then will be rolled out to Europe.
“The U.S. is our development lab,” Blayer said. “A longer-range goal is to add a video screen to units that allows a client to touch a product and get immediate product information.”
Blayer attributed part of the company’s success in the creative process to its close cooperation with suppliers, which he likens to joint ventures. The company wants to foster the same type of relationship with distributors and retailers overseas.
In its effort to “act locally,” Lord & Berry provides stores with a software package that explains the company’s image and credo, and customizes displays in local languages.
“We don’t want to be viewed as a mere supplier but as a vital part of the beauty market,” Blayer asserted.
Lord & Berry Europe favors an advertising and promotional strategy based on cooperative advertising, sponsorships and ads in trade publications.
Trade fairs, such as at Cosmoprof in Bologna, are a priority, especially those drawing retailers from the Middle East and Eastern Europe. “Our participation at Cosmoprof as a European entity this year resulted in many interesting contacts,” stated Blayer.
A Web site that offers product sales is on the drawing board and slated to make its debut in October. Developed by SB Associati, an advertising and communications agency here, the English-text site will offer company background, product information and fashion trends.
The company plans to launch a mail order catalog in Eastern Europe and Russia fashioned after an effort in the U.S. called Lord & Berry Direct. There are plans for the catalog to go into operation by next year, and talks are going on with several potential Russian partners.
On the product development horizon, the company is readying new nontransfer lip and eye products with a high comfort level, brightly colored mascaras, an innovative concept in makeup based on the pencil form, a liquid lip color packaged in a vial that combines gloss and lipstick properties, and a range of new colors and formulas, all slated for a spring-summer debut.
— Amy B. Barone

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