AVON’S NEW COLOR CRUSADE

Byline: Soren Larson

NEW YORK — With its color cosmetics business on a roll, Avon is looking to keep the momentum by continuing to update its image and product line.
In the second quarter of next year, the direct-sales company will launch a new lipstick, Beyond Color, and a mascara, Voluptuous. Both items are in line with the firm’s strategy of introducing new makeup items with streamlined, more stylish graphics and high-tech, trendy formulas.
The two launches follow on the heels of a lipstick called Perfect Wear and a mascara called Incredible Lengths, both of which set sales records for Avon when they were brought to the market in 1994.
“Color was the first of our categories to get the new treatment,” said Lynn Emmolo, vice president of beauty marketing. “Image has been a problem with Avon in terms of color, and we wanted to put a new face on the category. We got away from the generic look and formulas, and we’ve seen incredible results.”
She noted that more than one million units of Perfect Wear, which sells for $5.50 a tube, were sold in the product’s initial two-week launch period. The lipstick was marketed as being long-lasting and transfer-proof.
Incredible Lengths — Avon’s first lengthening mascara — also had a quick start. The product moved 720,000 units at $3.95 apiece in its first two weeks.
“These were numbers we’d never seen before,” said Emmolo, adding that the two follow-up products should have equivalent results: “I think we can have a repeat performance.”
In conjunction with what it terms an increase in the quality of the ingredients and manufacturing, Avon’s new color items have slightly higher prices than their predecessors.
“We wanted to do a treatment lipstick,” Emmolo said of Beyond Color, which protects and treats the lips along with providing color, according to the company. “We call it a triple benefit, and we’re charging a bit of a premium for that.”
Beyond Color will go for $6 a tube, the most expensive lipstick in the Avon line.
Meanwhile, the new mascara, touted as a lash thickener, will sell for $4.25. Before Incredible Lengths, Avon’s mascaras were priced at $2.99.
“We’ve found that our customers will pay a little more for more quality,” Emmolo said.
She noted that the company is working on improving the makeup imagery used in its sales catalogs. For the first time, she said, the firm is using “image spreads” as opposed to more clinical product descriptions in the brochures, which are distributed every two weeks to 16 million women in the U.S.
She also said that national print advertising is an “extremely important” part of the strategy to update the color category’s image, though she did not disclose the firm’s budget.
Avon’s color cosmetics grew by 21 percent in the U.S. last year, and the firm projects gains of 8 percent by the end of this year. The color segment generates 25 percent of global volume in Avon’s cosmetics, toiletries and fragrance business, or an estimated $650 million in 1994.
“We had good numbers before, but it wasn’t consistent growth,” Emmolo said. She noted that Avon also has been making strides in implementing the new color strategy in all its global markets.
“We are one cosmetic brand,” she said. “It should travel around the world.”

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