Byline: Jenny B. Fine

NEW YORK — Mass market vendors of nail products are targeting their launches at more specific market niches.
The move is part of a strategy to increase the nail care side of a business in which color continues to dominate. According to Information Resources Inc., nail color had a 1994 volume of about $229.2 million in U.S. drugstores, mass merchandisers and food stores, while nail care products rang up about $76.9 million for the same period.
Many of the new specifically targeted introductions were inspired by trends in the professional salon nail industry, which often stimulates sales and new products in the mass market, according to manufacturers and retailers.
“Whatever gets hot in the professional industry always finds its way to the retail market, either through diversion or companies like us,” said Len InDelicato, president of Fing’rs. “The professional market definitely drives the trends of retail.”
“Consumers are demanding the professional products they see in beauty supply stores and salons, and that’s something we’re finally getting in the drugstore industry,” said Penny Wade, cosmetics buyer for the Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based Harco Drugs, a 130-store chain. “I think we will see more professional products crossing over into the mass market.”
A handful of professional companies, such as Orly, already have crossed into the mass market, a trend retailers such as Wade applaud.
In response to this influx, mass manufacturers are introducing products designed to rival those of their professional counterparts or targeted at a specific audience.
For example, Sally Hansen Professional, a division of Del Laboratories, is introducing Suddenly Nails and Suddenly French Nails, two brush-on gel acrylic nail kits.
The kits, which consist of 20 nail tips, nail glue, brush-on gel, gel activator spray, acrylic sculpture dipping powder and a nail-smoothing block, will sell for about $12.99 apiece in the company’s full distribution of over 20,000 mass merchandisers and drug stores, including Walgreen, Wal-Mart, Target and Revco.
“This product simplifies a salon technique for at-home consumer use,” said Bill McMenemy, executive vice president of marketing at Del. “There is a growing awareness of professional products, and consumers are demanding more effective and easy-to-use products.”
The company will promote the line with co-op advertising and print ads in beauty and fashion magazines, although executives declined to be more specific.
Cosmar Corp. is taking a different tack. The company is currently rolling out its Nail Fetish line, aimed at teenagers, to about 10,000 discount and drug store doors this year, including Kmart, Wal-Mart and Target.
“We really want to entice younger customers into the practice of artificial nails, and show them it can be easy and fun,” said Avonda Nelson, vice president of marketing at Cosmar. She noted that the company is especially eager to nab younger consumers “so that they can graduate to our Cosmar and Pro 10 brands as they get older.”
The line, which company executives project will do a wholesale volume of about $8 million in its first year, consists of colored press-on nails available in two sizes and five colors each, nail tips in two shapes, nail glue, an acrylic nail sculpturing kit, buffers in unusual shapes such as hearts, nail files decorated with colorful graphics, and nail art such as stick-on decals.
Prices range from 99 cents each for the files and nail glue, to $1.99 for a buffer, to $2.99 for press-on nails and tips.
To support the line, Cosmar will launch an advertising campaign in the May issues of youth-oriented magazines, including Teen, Sassy, Seventeen and American Cheerleader. The company is also offering customers a free five-minute phone card with the purchase of three or more products.
Ardell, a division of American International Industries, is targeting another niche — consumers who clamor for natural-based products.
The company’s Nail Essence, a new line of eight nail care products, is being marketed as a line of natural nail treatments.
The products, which will be shipped beginning in April, are expected to be in over 20,000 chain doors by the end of the year, according to David Woolf, executive vice president of marketing at American International.
The company estimates the line will have a wholesale volume of about $2 million in its first year.
The new range will consist of Fast Dry Top Coat, Sure Seal Top Coat, Smoothing Base Coat, Nail Grower, Nail Thickener, Nail Hardener, Healthy Nail and Healthy Cuticle, with each product sold in a 0.50-oz. glass bottle. The top coats and base coat will retail for $4 each, while the other items will be priced at $5 each.
To support the claim of being a natural product, none of the Nail Essence products contains alcohol and each contains natural and botanical ingredients, according to the company.
For example, the Smoothing Base Coat contains Blue Chamomile, a natural anti-inflammatory agent, Rosemary, an antiseptic, and Larkspur, a stabilizing agent. In addition, each product contains a flower in the bottle. Smoothing Base Coat has a blue larkspur.
Ardell will support Nail Essence with print advertisements beginning with the September issues of Allure and Glamour. Subsequent ads will be placed in Vogue, Mademoiselle and Harper’s Bazaar. The ads will have the tagline, “Nature’s Solutions to Nail Problems.”

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