BRIGHT NEW HATS HANGING ON OLD PEGS
Byline: Faye Brookman
NEW YORK — The traditional peg wall in cosmetics departments is getting a face-lift.
The reasons? The demise of Procter & Gamble’s Clarion in January, coupled with a new emphasis on productivity in mass market beauty business, has retailers shuffling their color cosmetics arrangements.
In many cases, precious space on the makeup peg wall, previously dominated by a select few powerhouses like L’Oréal, Revlon and Cover Girl, is now going to small, niche players who each have less than $15 million in annual sales.
Among the companies widening their distribution and gaining added prominence in the mass market: Great American Cosmetics/Nat Robbins, based in Westbury, N.Y.; Physicians Formula Cosmetics, owned by Pierre Fabre of City of Industry, Calif.; Prestige Cosmetics of Deerfield Beach, Fla.; Cabot Laboratories of Central Islip, N.Y.; Lissee of Beverly Hills, Calif.; Skinditioner of New Brunswick, N.J., and Milani by Nina International of Indianapolis.
Budget lines such as Wet ‘n’ Wild and Artmatic are also getting more space.
Until now, these smaller companies did not have the clout to muscle in among the major brand names of the mass makeup world. But with the edict coming from top management to make the beauty department more profitable, retailers have cut space from traditional leaders with an eye on boosting turns with new, innovative names.
According to industry estimates, drugstore beauty departments are turning less than once a year, which on average is about 150 percent below the rate of product turnover for the entire store.
At least four feet of space on the peg wall was also recently made available at many chains, thanks to the departure of Clarion.
The free space, mass merchants noted, is being turned over to brands promising a greater return on investment.
One up-and-coming brand is Nat Robbins, distributed by Great American Cosmetics/Nat Robbins. Larry Pallini, a longtime cosmetics industry veteran, together with his partner, Vincent M. Carbone, purchased the firm from Miami-based Winarick in January 1993 for an undisclosed sum.
“Our goal,” said Pallini, “is to make our real estate the most productive in chain drugstores.”
Although some of the excess space has been given over to Maybelline’s Revitalizing brand and to enlarged professional nail care departments, several chains are trying a range of niche players like Nat Robbins.
“I’ve got 13 feet to play with,” said Marcia Gaynor, senior cosmetics buyer for Pharmhouse Corp. in New York.
A portion of her space will go to nail care, and she plans to extend the Nat Robbins presentation. She will also add the Skinditioner products.
“I think these lines will make our stores more exciting,” she asserted.
Valerie Cheyney, buyer for Happy Harry’s in Newark, Del., is giving some of her free space to Physicians Formula.
“We definitely have to try new things to generate sales,” she noted.
Another major drug chain cut the space allotted to Cover Girl and Revlon to clear room for Nat Robbins.
“We found we could do the same volume in less Revlon space, while bringing in a few new lines,” she said.
Based on the growing success of the Nat Robbins line, Pallini of Great American Cosmetics said he is trying to extend distribution of the new Nat Robbins Everlasting brand of lipstick and nail lacquer. The line was launched in June.
The firm is hoping to grab two feet of peg-wall space for its program for Everlasting. According to Pallini, the line is getting the attention of buyers because it can bring badly needed gross margins to the category.
“Percent-wise, we can bring in between 40 to 50 percent gross margins and turns of two to two-and-a-half per year,” Pallini said.
One retailer is reportedly already moving 12,000 pieces of Everlasting pencils a week in one square foot of space. Industry experts estimate the line could ring up a volume in 1995 of $10 million at wholesale.
Retailers also said the Everlasting products offer them an inexpensive way to offer department-store-inspired products, such as cream-to-powder formulations and full-line matte presentations.
Meanwhile, Physicians Formula is gaining new wall space, thanks to the success of a bevy of launches, notably Captyane, a skin care line.
According to the company’s president, Michael Carter, the appeal of the brand is that the items don’t duplicate those in other lines on the wall.
“We added Physicians Formula after many of our customers came in asking for it. You don’t get that too often,” said one buyer.
Cabot’s redesign of its wall fixture came just at the right time to capitalize on new availability of space on the wall, according to Linda Maiocco, vice president of marketing.
Cabot’s Clear Perfection products had been packaged on cards to be hung on the wall.
But earlier this year, the firm redesigned its products to fit into a custom-designed cabinet. The cabinet requires only one foot of shelf space.
“It really helped us move from the budget wall to the franchise wall,” said Maiocco, referring to the way retailers separate brands by price and prestige.
Skinditioner is gaining space in chains such as SupeRx, based in Cincinnati, and the New York-based Duane Reade.
Skinditioner’s top line is Soft Touch, a treatment brand that until now was available only in salons.
Lissee is another small line that is gaining attention, especially because its color cosmetics purportedly offer aromatherapy benefits.
And CVS of Woon-socket, R.I., and F&M Distributors of Warren, Mich., have added Milani from Nina International to their peg walls.
The Milani line offers displays and three-color palettes targeted to either white, African-American or Latino consumers.
“We’re looking for productive lines because with increased competition, and better data available to management to analyze turns and profitability, we have an increased management focus on the profitability of the cosmetics category,” said Donna McManus, buyer for K&B Inc.
Designer Quality Impressions, based in New York, plans to build a following for its line of alternative designer scents by offering travel and trial-size products next year.
According to company president Joe DeKama, a 1-oz. travel size will be featured at $4.99, and a 5.5-ml. trial size will sell for $1.99.
The products will be tagged with $1-off coupons, good toward a purchase of the standard 3.3-oz. size. DQI recently lowered its price points on its 3.3-ounce from $12.95 to $9.99.
“That appears to be the magic price point,” said DeKama, noting that DQI is currently in 12,000 doors.
Among the brands mimicked by DQI are Ralph Lauren’s Polo, Calvin Klein’s Eternity and Escape, Chanel No. 5 and Estée Lauder’s White Linen.
Industry sources estimate the new items could add an additional $2 million to DQI’s estimated wholesale volume of $12 million.
The entire alternative designer fragrance category registered estimated 1993 sales of $300 million.