Byline: Chantal Tode

NEW YORK — Consumers are clamoring for more and more color, according to beauty manufacturers. To help insure that the newness and variety women crave is front and center in drugstores and discounters, these firms are increasing the number of color promotions they produce every year and turning up the volume on the marketing support for trendy color palettes.
The color cosmetics category has been on an upward spiral in recent years, driven in large part by an explosive nail enamel category. According to sales-tracking firm A.C. Nielsen, 1996 sales for the mass market makeup category were up 14 percent. Manufacturers maintain the trend will continue indefinitely because consumers’ attitudes toward cosmetics have undergone a fundamental shift.
Don Pettit, president of Jane Cosmetics, said women no longer consider cosmetics to be a purely remedial product. “There is an acceptance by consumers to experiment and use color to express themselves,” said Pettit. “The category will probably be even more exciting in the future as this sensibility of, ‘Hey, it’s fun to express myself with cosmetics,’ expands. I think this bodes very well for the future of color.”
However, Tanya Mandor, executive vice president at Revlon Cosmetics, said it would be a mistake to rely exclusively on consumers to drive further growth in cosmetics.
Even though category sales are up 8.3 percent so far this year, according to Mandor, the onus is still on manufacturers to keep cosmetics exciting for consumers.
“What’s driving growth is shade news and new technologies,” she said. “All of that news being brought to the marketplace has allowed it to grow. It will continue as long as we do our homework.”
Carol Hamilton, senior vice president of marketing at L’Oreal, said that what beauty companies do next is crucial for the continued growth of cosmetics.
“As long as we keep offering the right technology and the right shade breaks and work with retailers, we believe the growth in color can go on forever,” she noted.
Hamilton said that sales continue to be strong in lip and nail color and she is optimistic that some of the heat will soon be transferred to total face and eye sales.
“It is their time to shine,” said Hamilton. “We are seeing it in fashion, where the eye dominates the total face, and that look will continue to dominate into the spring. Right now, the face is seen as a canvas rather than a statement, and we feel the there are lots of new looks that can be created for the face.”
Hamilton predicts double-digit growth in eye, blush, foundation and powder sales in the next year.
Revlon’s Mandor agreed that nail enamel isn’t the only product area benefiting from the consumer’s interest in color. Revlon’s sales for face cosmetics are up 18 percent as a result of the introduction of ColorStay makeup, said Mandor. She also predicts that lip color will start to experience some of the same growth.
Meanwhile, the growth trend in nail color shows no signing of abating anytime soon, said Bill McMenemy, executive vice president of marketing at Del Laboratories, which markets the Sally Hansen line of nail color.
“This is more than a trend; it’s like a cycle, and they last a long time,” he said. “Women are having fun with nail color, and they are enjoying it. I think it is going to take something really strong to reverse that.”
He predicts nail color sales will be up 15 percent in 1997 with another double-digit increase for 1998, although not as high as this year.
At Jane, sales jumped 20 to 25 percent when the firm introduced its first collection of nail color in June, said Pettit.
As the consumer’s renewed interest in color has taken hold, manufacturers’ promotions highlighting new fashionable shades for each season also experienced greater sales, generating a bigger portion of each company’s overall color business.
Manufacturers agreed that retailers have been receptive to color promotions not only because consumers are demanding them, but as an attempt to offset some of the losses they are experiencing in the fragrance category.
The Christmas season, until recently an insignificant period for color cosmetics sales, according to beauty executives, will benefit from an unprecedented number of seasonal promotions this year, as well as large advertising budgets to support them.
Mark Pritchard, president and general manager for Procter & Gamble’s cosmetics division, said orders from retailers already indicate that P&G’s Cover Girl brand’s fall and holiday seasonal promotions could shape up to be the company’s biggest ever.
P&G is advertising its seasonal promotions in bigger ways than ever before. For Spice It Up, Cover Girl’s fall promotion, P&G has put together an advertising campaign that features the rap group Salt-n-Pepa.
P&G will also be supporting Cover Girl’s holiday promotion, Northern Lights, with advertising.
Cover Girl has always had a holiday promotion, said Pritchard. What’s different this year is that the company is putting the emphasis on driving the sales of basic products instead of offering a gift-with-purchase.
Seasonal color promotions have become a bigger piece of the pie at Revlon, according to Mandor. In 1994, when the company first started offering color promotions, there was a spring and a fall promotion. This year, Revlon will do five different color promotions, including two for the holiday. Revlon’s fall promotion, Stonehenge, will probably be double the size of a 1994 seasonal promotion, said Mandor.
Based on the success of last year’s holiday promotion, Mandor continued, Revlon decided to add a second one in 1997 for the New Year’s period. The firm will also be advertising its holiday promotions on TV for the first time this year.
Revlon’s holiday collection, After Dark, features dark burgundy, purple and red shades of nail polish and lip color. The one for New Year’s, Metal Lights, features light metallic hues such as copper and gold.
L’Oreal will create four color promotions this year instead of the two it did last year, said Hamilton. It will also augment the promotions with category-specific shade releases at other times during the year. For example, this October’s Glitter Glam will feature nail color only.
This winter, L’Oreal will do its first holiday promotion in years. It will be tied in with the December release of the new James Bond movie, “Tomorrow Never Dies,” and consists of two new lip, nail and eye shades worn by Pierce Brosnan’s co-star, Michelle Yeoh, in the film.
The shades — Bond Bronze, Bond Bordeaux, Paris Jade, GoldenEye and Royal Ruby — all tie in with Bond films.
“Seasonal promotions are a perfect complement to the wall,” said Hamilton, referring to the peg wall, where the abundance of makeup is stocked. “Every year, women want to know what are the new shades and they look to prepacked displays for that. Prepacks give them the confidence that they are buying the latest shades.”
“The nature of the seasonal promotion has changed,” said Pettit. “In the past, they were a dictation of a specific look. Now, they are much more about presenting new options. The difference is subtle, but it feeds into the experimentation idea.”
Del Labs’ McMenemy said that seasonal promotions have grown for his company in the past few years and now represent about 25 percent of its overall business in color cosmetics.
“Spring and summer have been stronger. Christmas used to be a very minor seasonal color statement,” said McMenemy. “Now Christmas is much bigger, and the retailers are using holiday colors to offset some of the loss in fragrance.”
McMenemy would like to take some of the excitement generated for consumers by seasonal promotions and bring it to the cosmetics wall in drugstores.
“We are building fixtures that will allow us to [afix] trend colors on the wall,” said McMenemy. “With it, retailers can create a section that is part of the wall but features trend colors. Retailers would be able to benefit by being able to change the colors three times a year.”