SAKS THRIVES ON SINGLE-ITEM STANDOUTS

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NEW YORK — Although Saks Fifth Avenue has developed a reputation for its exclusive fragrance launches, the store is trying to build the other segments of its cosmetics business.
Deborah Walters, divisional merchandise manager at Saks, called treatment and color “our major focus.” Following treatment sales gains in the “solid double digits” in 1994, she said the category is running ahead in the high teens year-to-date. And Walters said she expects to end the year with a better growth rate than last year.
The heart of the business has been — and continues to be — a series of star product launches from the major treatment companies.
“They’re all coming out with new exciting products this year,” she said. “I think star products are still hot.”
Estee Lauder, for example, is still ringing up huge Fruition sales, she said. Plus, “We’ve done extremely well with Revelation, and Resilience Eyes has been very strong.”
“[Lauder] had a great fall, and we see an outstanding ’95 taking shape,” Walters said, noting that the Shelter moisturizer introduction scheduled for May 14 looks promising.
ThighZone, Lauder’s first anti-cellulite product, also has taken off, as planned. “I was bullish, having witnessed the power of [Christian Dior’s] Svelte,” Walters explained.
In addition to those two anti-cellulite treatments, Lancome’s new Reflexe Minceur Cellulite Refining Gel has been a hot seller this year.
“It’s interesting how many of those cellulite products we can sell,” she said.
Another recent Lancome launch, the eye treatment Expressive, has helped to boost the company’s sales as well, and Walters said she is eagerly anticipating the spring launch of HydraControle, a gel moisturizer for women with oily skin.
Saks’ other top treatment lines, in no particular order, include:
La Prairie, which has had a surge from its Age Management Intensives.
Chanel, described by Walters as a “solid performer.” Driving sales are Lift Serum ExtrAme and a huge pre-sell of the reformulated Formule Intensive Day Lift Plus.
Sisley, which did well with its Botanical Tenser treatment and in April is coming out with Hydra-Flash, a beta-hydroxy acid product for all skin types.
Clinique, which continues to churn out sales of Turnaround Cream.
Prescriptives, which has devised a new skin care strategy. “Eye Specialist has been fabulous from the day we brought it in,” Walters said, adding she anticipates a big hit with Insulation, the company’s new moisturizer.
Walters gave “honorable mentions” to Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Clarins, all of which she said have had solid growth.
Saks is bringing in two new treatment lines this spring. The store recently introduced Bobbi Brown’s new skin care products, which Walters described as “very simple. It coordinates very well with what she’s all about.”
In April, Osmotics, which delivers its products via a patch worn on the skin, is launching exclusively at Saks.
While the industry tends to concentrate on exclusives in the fragrance category, Walters said treatment exclusives are also important.
“Christian Dior’s HydraStar was exclusive to us, and they had a stellar season,” she said by way of an example. “It gives us a hook to really go after the business, and our beauty consultants get very excited about it.”

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