Byline: Cara Kagan

NEW YORK — L’Oreal is lighting a fire under its cosmetics business.
Through increased spending on advertising, product launches, revamped packaging and redecorated in-store displays, the company hopes to increase color sales by 12 percent in 1995, according to Pam Gill Alabaster, assistant vice president of marketing for color cosmetics at L’Oreal’s Cosmetics and Fragrance division.
While Alabaster declined to be specific, industry sources estimated that a 12 percent increase would give L’Oreal a color volume of about $291 million at retail.
This year, the company’s cosmetics category will finish with a 9 percent sales increase, Alabaster said, which would translate into a retail volume of about $260 million.
L’Oreal’s projected increase is nearly double that of the mass-market color industry as a whole, which sources said is expected to grow by 5 percent to reach $2.3 billion.
“Throughout the next year, our goal will be to give continuous advertising support behind all four core categories in the mass color cosmetics market: lip, nail, foundation and mascara,” Alabaster said. “Meanwhile, we will be continuing to adopt practices that will make our brand easier to shop in self-service environments.”
To get the word out, L’Oreal is boosting its color advertising budget 16 percent, Alabaster said. According to industry estimates, this would put the company’s 1995 expenditures at more than $30 million.
L’Oreal’s in-store presence is also getting a lift. Starting next month, the company will begin shipping redesigned panels to refurbish its displays; a second shipment is due in July.
The new displays are designed to more clearly communicate the benefits of each product, Alabaster said. In the company’s higher-volume doors, the merchandising units will be enhanced with lighted photos of models wearing the latest fashions.
In another nod to self-service, the company has introduced the L’Oreal Style Report, a four-page newsletter containing makeup application tips, advice on shade selection, new-product news and explanations of new L’Oreal technology. Copies will be permanently displayed in the top 6,000 of the company’s 20,000 doors.
According to Alabaster, new editions will be published semiannually.
“This is another way for us to link L’Oreal cosmetics with fashion in the consumer’s mind, which is the way we have always tried to position ourselves,” she said.
The company is making its products more accessible with see-through packaging, so customers can examine shades, and by lowering some price points.
L’Oreal’s Soft Effects eye shadow singles will get a makeover. Previously, the compacts had mirrors and were sold on elongated cards for $4.75. Come January, the packaging will be simplified and the price point reduced, to $3.50.
“Here we were, offering an eye shadow with all of the bells and whistles, when in reality eye shadow sales are based on only two things — shade and price,” said Alabaster .
“Downsizing the card al-lowed us to be more efficient and also gave us more color impact. This move, plus removing the mirror, allowed us to make our price point more competitive.”
The company is revamping its Visuelle blush. In January, each of the brand’s nine shades will be shipped with new packaging: The compacts will contain small clear panels that show the color of the blush. Previously, the compact was solid and consumers could see the shade only on a plastic color chip on the display.
The new type of packaging first appeared on the L’Oreal wall earlier this year, when the company launched Dualite foundation and Blushesse cheek color. Both items have clear panels in otherwise opaque compacts.
L’Oreal hopes to take the guesswork out of shopping by standardizing shades. In the next two years, all the foundations in its five makeup brands will be repackaged with uniform shades and names. Presently, there is diversity throughout each line.
The details of the bulk of L’Oreal’s upcoming launches have not been worked out, as many introductions are scheduled for the second half of the year. But the company did outline the March launch of Voluminous Waterproof Mascara, a companion product to the original Voluminous Thickening Mascara, the company’s top-selling mascara that was launched in 1990.
Alabaster said it had been difficult to develop a waterproof thickening mascara, as the solvents that make a mascara waterproof usually thin the formula.
To create Voluminous Waterproof, the Cosmetics and Fragrance division worked with L’Oreal’s hair care division and used a co-polymer complex that is used in hair sprays.
New print and TV advertising for the original Voluminous will begin next month. In May, a print campaign for the new waterproof version will get under way.
“Waterproof mascara is the fastest-growing segment of the mascara market and showed a 13 percent increase this year,” Alabaster said, noting that nonwaterproofs were up only 3 percent. “Since thickening mascaras represent the lion’s share of the market, Voluminous Waterproof will allow us to capitalize on both trends.”

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