MARY KAY UNVEILING AHA ENHANCER FOR EYES
Byline: Julie L. Belcove
NEW YORK — Mary Kay Cosmetics is launching an alpha-hydroxy acid product for the eyes at a time when the company is asserting that it has become the best-selling facial treatment and color cosmetics manufacturer in the U.S.
Avon, Mary Kay’s chief direct-sell competitor, is disputing the company’s claim. Industry sources indicated that Estée Lauder USA and Clinique also could each be bigger than Mary Kay.
Mary Kay’s new eye product, called Triple-Action Eye Enhancer, is being positioned as a hybrid treatment and makeup product, according to Curran Dandurand, executive vice president of marketing at the Dallas-based Mary Kay.
As an acid product, Triple-Action is said to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but Dandurand said the cream also has light-diffusing properties and acts as a primer for eyeshadow, making it crease-resistant and waterproof.
Triple-Action, which is meant to be used in conjunction with an eye cream, does not contain water, a fact Dandurand said prevents it from sliding into and irritating the eyes.
Dandurand said she expects Triple-Action to be the direct-sell company’s blockbuster product of the first half of 1995.
“We think it’s easily going to do more than one million units in six weeks to two months,” she said.
At $15 for a .65-oz. tube, a unit volume of that size would bring in more than $15 million in retail sales.
Mary Kay has estimated its overall volume in 1994 exceeded $850 million, an increase of more than 16 percent over its 1993 total of $735 million.
In 1993, according to the company, more than $400 million of its sales came from facial skin care and color cosmetics, a figure Mary Kay claims makes it the leading company — mass, prestige or direct-sell — in the industry when it comes to those two categories combined. Mary Kay said the breakdown for its 1994 business is not yet available.
Dandurand said the ranking is important because “people like to be associated with the best. For customers, the fact that we’re the best-selling brand reinforces their purchase decision.”
Mary Kay plans to use the claim in its promotional literature as well as a tag line for some of its advertising. Dandurand said Mary Kay is shifting its ad strategy to be somewhat more upscale this year by running print ads for Triple-Action in Vogue. The company will continue to advertise in women’s service magazines, including Redbook, Good Housekeeping and McCall’s.
Mary Kay’s claim to the number-one spot is based on three industry studies, according to Dandurand, and compares brands rather than corporations. Mary Kay divided Estée Lauder Cos., for example, into Estée Lauder USA, Clinique, Prescriptives and Origins. Dandurand declined to specify which surveys were used.
Industry analysts, though, said they generally study the industry by company, not by brand. On a corporate basis, Mary Kay trails well behind several other companies, including Procter & Gamble and Lauder.
Lenka Contreras, a senior consultant for the Kline Report, an industry survey, confirmed that Mary Kay “is in the $400 million ballpark” in combined treatment and makeup sales.
But when treatment and makeup are split into separate categories, Contreras noted that the Estée Lauder brand is “neck and neck” with Mary Kay in treatment. In makeup, Cover Girl’s more than $300 million in 1993 wholesale volume was above Mary Kay’s less than $200 million total, Contreras said. Avon, for one, is questioning Mary Kay’s claim. An Avon spokeswoman said the company’s U.S. sales of makeup and facial skin care — including specialty treatment products and basic skin care — totaled more than $500 million in 1993.
According to Mottus & Associates’ annual report on the prestige cosmetics industry, Clinique did $652 million in 1993, and Allan Mottus said about $550 million to $575 million of that was in facial treatment and makeup. Mottus put the Lauder brand’s total at $787 million, about $525 million of it in skin care and makeup.
Mary Kay’s biggest growth opportunity is in skin care, Dandurand said, noting that Mary Kay already holds a 10 percent share of the U.S. treatment market.
Thanks in large part to the acid-based Skin Revival System, which did $100 million in retail sales its first year, Dandurand said, treatment had sales gains of 20 percent in 1994 and accounts for 40 percent of Mary Kay’s overall sales.