REVLON’S RECOVERY A HIGHLIGHT OF ’94
Byline: Faye Brookman
NEW YORK — Many mass market retailers will remember 1994 as the year Revlon restored its luster.
In recapping the most successful new products of last year, buyers from drug and discount stores pointed to Revlon’s Age Defying Makeup and ColorStay lipstick and its newest fragrance, Fire & Ice, as among the strongest recent launches.
Honors also went out to L’Oreal’s Excell-A3 moisturizer, Coty’s Vanilla Musk and Longing scents and the Sarah Michaels line of home fragrances.
The sources added that 1994 was a year when they fattened the bottom line with trendy items such as thigh creams and alpha-hydroxy acid-based skin care items.
“We did very well with Fire & Ice, and I was glad to see Revlon have a hit fragrance,” said Steele Balkunas, buyer for Ike’s, the deep discount drugstore arm of Super D Drugs, based in Memphis. “We didn’t have any pieces left in most stores.”
The success of Fire & Ice was the culmination of a strong year for Revlon that started with the launch of ColorStay. The new lip product was singled out as one of the top sellers in chains such as Kmart Corp. and Happy Harry’s of Newark, Del.
Retailers attributed its success to splashy advertising featuring Cindy Crawford, and also praised it as a high-technology product in the mode of Ultima II’s Lipsexxxy.
Revlon even grabbed some of Maybelline’s thunder with Age Defying, a line of makeup targeted at women age 35 and over. Maybelline is targeting a similar crowd with its new Revitalizing brand.
“Age Defying was very strong for us,” confirmed Balkunas.
A cosmetician with McKay Drugs in Manhattan said many of her customers came in asking for Age Defying. “There was strong word of mouth,” she said.
A spate of alpha-hydroxy products was launched into the mass market in 1994. Although L’Oreal was late out of the gate with a fruit acid product, some buyers said, its Excell-A3 was an instant hit. According to L’Oreal, Excell-A3 was the first mass skin care item to combine fruit acids, vitamin E and sun protection.
Although thigh creams continued to sell, buyers acknowledged the category is most likely a fad that peaked in the summer months.
Meanwhile, Coty retained its crown as the mass market fragrance king with two new hits — Vanilla Musk and Longing.
“Longing was very strong for us,” said Sheri Ralston, buyer for Thrifty Payless of Wilsonville, Ore.
Coty was commended by retailers for continuing to produce a fragrance hit year after year in an otherwise tough mass market.
Secondarily sourced scents kicked in at Christmastime to produce another strong year for mass marketers. Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflowers, in its second year in distribution, was the biggest hit among diverted scents. It was the first year the brand was widely available to mass chains.
A handful of chains was also able to secure Calvin Klein’s CK One, the runaway success of the prestige market.
“We couldn’t even get it out of the box and we were selling the few pieces we had,” said one buyer for a Southern chain, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of selling CK One in mass.
Last year was also a time when home fragrances made a mark, many merchants said. LaLoren of Stoughton, Mass., added a home fragrance line to its Sarah Michaels brand, and company president Mark Kaplan said it enjoyed a strong sell-through.
Balkunas at Ike’s said she moved everything in the line, with the lone exception of a potpourri basket.
All in all, the buyers deemed 1994 a decent year. And they were especially glad to see Revlon regain its presence as a major force in the mass market beauty business.
The Long Island mass market is undergoing major tremors with the opening of a 125,000-square-foot Wal-Mart.
The store, opened Jan. 3 in Middle Island, N.Y., is Long Island’s first Wal-Mart, although it joins an existing Sam’s Wholesale Club, which is owned by Wal-Mart Stores, based in Bentonville, Ark. The new unit will compete with an array of drug chains, discounters and supermarkets such as Revco, Genovese, Kmart, Caldor and King Kullen.
Sources contacted at those stores said that one sole Wal-Mart won’t pose a threat. “But if they open four or five, it will hurt us,” one store manager conceded.
Many noted that Kmart, which offers merchandise similar to what is sold at Wal-Mart and has a store in the vicinity, has the most to lose from the invasion.
Although it is located away from the most densely populated Long Island towns, industry experts said the new Wal-Mart will draw consumers from a good part of the island, because it is easy for those situated east of Middle Island to get there. People to the west might have a harder time traveling eastward on Long Island’s congested roadways.
The store offers a Vision Center, a pharmacy, a McDonald’s and a portrait studio. Sales personnel are on hand throughout the store, and prices are very competitive.
The beauty area is located at the front of the store, near the pharmacy. There is no cosmetician; instead, what Wal-Mart calls a department manager assists customers.
The fragrance selection includes an abundance of mass fragrances, merchandised on a shelf adjacent to prestige scents. The mass items are self-serve.
The prestige fragrances include Lancaster’s Davidoff Cool Water, Ralph Lauren’s Polo and Safari, Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium, Lancôme’s Tresor and Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflowers.
Wal-Mart is participating in what it calls a Vendor Fair program, where local suppliers are given space to perform demonstrations.
For example, Cabot Laboratories, based in Central Islip, N.Y., had full-size samples available of its Clear Perfection Cover Stick — a $2.68 value.
Del Laboratories, based in Farmingdale, N.Y., is given a large display area for its Naturistics brand, including the Naturistics Shop fixture that brings together the entire line of fragrances, body sprays, body lotions and cosmetics. Del was also doling out samples at the grand opening.
The cosmetics peg wall features Revlon’s skin care, along with makeup from L’Oreal, Max Factor, Cover Girl and Maybelline, including Revitalizing. Fashion Fair’s Ebone ethnic line was also housed on the peg wall.
The selection is rounded out with Physicians Formula, Almay, Bonne Bell and Del, while Jane Cosmetics is situated in its own display opposite the cosmetics wall.
Wal-Mart stocks both the Wet ‘n’ Wild and Artmatic budget lines, along with the Black Opal skin care brand.
Although some Wal-Marts sell secondarily sourced prestige skin care, the selection at Middle Island is strictly mass market. The skin care selection is on a shelf adjacent to the cosmetics area and features L’Oréal’s Plénitude, Oil of Olay, Pond’s, Neoteric’s Alpha Hydrox and Nivea.
A new line of skin care called Youth Spa, made by BeautyCology of New York and consisting of firming cream, eye gel, a moisturizer and a toner, is stocked with the better-known brands.
Sarah Michaels, Yardley and Neutrogena are the dominant brands in bath and body.
Concluded one vendor, “Wal-Mart is making use of its proximity to major beauty suppliers with this store to show what it can really do.”
The Health and Beauty Care Division of the Anti-Defamation League will honor Robert W. Hannan, president and chief executive officer of Thrift Drug, Inc., based in Pittsburgh, Pa., at a dinner on January 26, 1995. The event will be at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York.