L’OREAL IN ’96: A FULL PLATE

Byline: Cara Kagan

NEW YORK — The L’Oreal cosmetics and fragrance division of Cosmair Inc. has two New Year’s resolutions — to broaden its consumer base and to boost awareness.
The company hopes to achieve these goals through increased advertising, stepped-up sampling and new products.
John Wendt, senior vice president and general manager of L’Oreal’s cosmetics and fragrance division, said the unit has achieved the kind of sales momentum he hopes to maintain into the new year.
While he declined to cite dollar figures, Wendt noted that sales of color cosmetics increased 20 percent in 1995 and Plenitude’s sales climbed 8 to 10 percent.
According to industry sources, that would give L’Oreal cosmetics a wholesale volume of $230 million and Plenitude sales of $70 million.
But as the company faces the future with new technologies and reaches out for new consumers, L’Oreal is keeping its eye on existing business. Next year’s marketing strategies also call for aggressive sampling and advertising support for this year’s star launches, Revitalift from Plenitude and Colour Endure lipstick.
Although 1996 advertising plans are not yet final, Wendt noted that L’OrAal is out to increase support for PlAnitude at least 5 to 10 percent, to $25 million to $30 million. Color cosmetics spending will be boosted by 16 percent to a total of $38 million.
L’Oreal also wants to be more aggressive about getting its product into the hands of consumers.
“We have long way to go in terms of offering more sampling opportunities,” said Pamela Gill Alabaster, assistant vice president of color cosmetics marketing. “Next year we are really going to push as much product into as many people’s hands as we possibly can.”
L’Oreal executives noted that for 1996, the company will be distributing a total of 10 million Plenitude samples, a 15 percent increase over this year’s allotment. At the same time, the number of color cosmetics samples will be doubled to a total of 20 million.
Alabaster added that as part of this effort, the company will sample its seasonal color promotions for the first time next year. Its spring shade statement, CyberShine, will be sampled with a Product-on-Paper technique by ColorPrelude. Protected samples of lip, cheek and eye colors will be inserted into magazines during the spring.
Throughout the first half of 1996, the company has also scheduled three product launches designed to pull new users into the franchise.
With the April introduction of Hydra-Matte, a moisturizer that absorbs excess facial oil, L’Oreal is hoping to attract younger women with oily skin into the Plenitude fold. The item will be distributed in Plenitude’s 28,000 mass doors.
Sensitique mascara will be aimed at women with sensitive eyes, a new customer for L’Oreal, and Feel Perfecte foundation will try to convert non-foundation wearers by combining skin care benefits with makeup and through making lightweight, no-makeup-feel claims. Both the mascara and the foundation are also due to hit L’Oreal’s 22,000 doors in April.
Wendt conservatively projected that total skin care sales will increase 12 to 15 percent next year and that color cosmetics will grow at a rate of about 12 percent.
According to industry estimates, that would give Plenitude a 1996 wholesale volume of $78 million to $80 million. Color cosmetics would then have a wholesale volume of over $257 million.
Hydra-Matte All Day Shine Control Moisturizer was designed to provide hydration to the skin’s dry areas while controlling oil and shine in the oily areas.
The 4-oz. bottle will have a suggested retail price of $7.99. Support will include $8 million worth of print and TV advertising that will kick off in April magazines.
TV spots will first air in May, according to Ketan Patel, assistant vice president of skin care marketing, who noted that Hydra-Matte will most likely attract a younger woman to the Plenitude display.
“Most women with oily or combination skin are under the age of 36 and tend to avoid conventional moisturizers because they can make the skin shiny,” he said. “But all women over a certain age require hydration. Hydra-Matte delivers the moisturization benefits while producing a shine-free, fresh matte look and feel.”
He added that the product’s target audience was women aged 18 to 34, which is substantially younger than Plenitude’s core consumer, who is around 45.
With Sensitique gentle lash-building mascara, the company is seeking entrance into the sensitive-eyes market.
“We think there is a tremendous opportunity in this market and it is very likely that we will be exploring this category with other launches,” said Alabaster.
Alabaster said that according to company research, more than 60 percent of women claim to have sensitive eyes and that 25 percent of them wear contact lenses. Despite this larger proportion, mascaras created for sensitive eyes represent less than 3 percent of overall mascara sales.
“We feel that this discrepancy is due to the fact that most mascaras for women with sensitive eyes compromise performance for gentleness,” Alabaster said. “A lot more women would probably buy these products if they could provide the thicker, longer and fuller lashes of higher performing mascaras. We think we have addressed both of these concerns.”
Sensitique will be backed with $2 million of print advertising that will be kicked off in April women’s magazines. Each of Sensitique’s three shades will have a suggested retail price of $5.95 per tube.
Feel Perfecte will be positioned as a long-lasting foundation that offers natural-looking coverage in a lightweight formula, which is designed to make a consumer feel as if she is not wearing any foundation at all.
Each of the nine shades contains an SPF 15 and Vitamin E to help neutralize free radicals. There are silicone emollients designed to provide a weightless moisture barrier.
“When it comes to foundation, women want the kitchen sink,” Alabaster said. “They want something that will last all day, that will protect them from the sun and pollutants, but that won’t feel like makeup. This is our kitchen-sink makeup. We also think that it will really appeal to women who hate to wear foundation because of the way conventional makeups feel.”
Alabaster noted that the new foundation will be backed with an $8 million ad budget. Print and TV support will break in May.
The company will also distribute five million packette samples of Feel Perfecte that will be inserted into magazines.
Wendt noted that while these new products and marketing initiatives are key components to achieving the company’s plans for growth, continuing to build Revitalift and Colour Endure are just as crucial.
“Both of these products are exceeding our initial sales projections and we are continually revising our plan but we feel that they both have an even greater potential that needs to be maximized,” he said.
Both items, L’Oreal executives said, have only reached about two-thirds of their intended distribution but are continuing to roll out.
Revitalift, which was launched in October, was created to increase the skin’s elasticity, while smoothing lines and wrinkles and protecting the skin from the sun.
To continue building the brand, L’Oreal will sample Revitalift by inserting four million packettes into magazines throughout both the first and third quarters of next year. The moisturizer will be supported by $15 million worth of print and TV advertising throughout next year, according to Wendt.
He added that so far Revitalift has exceeded initial projections by nearly 50 percent.
According to industry sources, the moisturizer could now achieve a first-year wholesale volume of $20 million to $25 million.
Plans are in the works to extend the Revitalift franchise with an under-eye product by the end of next year, L’Oreal executives said.
“Revitalift has really helped to broaden Plenitude’s consumer base,” Patel said. “It has brought in a new group of women over the age of 50. With Hydra-Matte at the one end and Revitalift at the other, we really feel we are reaching out to both ends of the age and skin type spectrum.”
Colour Endure is also running well ahead of plan, Alabaster said, adding that the long-wearing and transfer-proof lip color has already become the company’s top-selling lipstick in the doors where it is sold.
According to industry sources, the lip color could generate a retail volume of as high as $80 million in the first year.
To ensure the item’s staying power, L’Oreal will support the new lip color with $9 million worth of TV and print advertising next year and kick off several new sampling and gift-with-purchase promotions.
In January, L’Oreal will hold a sampling event in 1,200 of its most heavily trafficked doors involving Revitalift, Gloria Vanderbilt and Colour Endure; 25,000 full-sized Colour Endure lipsticks will be handed out.
In July, 12 new shades will be added to the Colour Endure lineup for a total of 36.
“The market has become increasingly competitive, and while that’s good in the sense that manufacturers have to do a better job of stimulating trial, it also means that we all have to work that much harder to maintain our existing customers while attracting new ones,” Wendt said. “That means supporting and building existing products, while creating new products that are effective and technologically innovative.”

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