Byline: Cara Kagan

NEW YORK — After four years, Origins feels it has found its selling voice.
This is evidenced by the sales figures. According to William P. Lauder, vice president and general manager, Origins is achieving same-store sales gains of 30 to 35 percent this year, indicating that the fledgling division of Estée Lauder Cos. is finally establishing itself in department stores.
Lauder credited the increase to the company’s relaunch of its color cosmetics and foundation businesses earlier this year.
While he declined to give specifics, industry sources estimated that the company’s wholesale volume would then range from $39 million to $40.5 million.
Lauder hopes to continue Origins’s momentum next year with increases of 20 to 25 percent.
That would give Origins a wholesale volume next year of $47 million to $50 million, according to source estimates.
“We feel that we have made enough headway and that we are now well known enough that we no longer have to explain what we are about to consumers,” Lauder said. “This means we can spend more time addressing customer needs and talking about our products rather than our company philosophy.”
The path the company has taken has led to a steady stream of new products that have kicky names — such as No Puffery eye gel — natural ingredients and an aromatherapy slant. This is in sharp contrast to the current industry practice of hawking products as technological breakthroughs.
“It’s impossible for a small company to compete in the gift-with-purchase arena effectively,” Lauder said, “so our strategy is to generate sales through launching a steady stream of new products.”
Daria Myers, vice president of marketing, added, “New products represent 15 to 20 percent of our sales. They keep our salespeople motivated, bring in new customers and offer new excitement for our existing customers.”
According to Lauder, for the last two-and-a-half years, the company has introduced at least one product a month, each of which is featured in a separate in-store display.
The company is launching 11 products during the first half of 1995. These will be distributed throughout the firm’s network of 207 department store counters, 14 freestanding stores and seven in-store boutiques.
The new items will range in price from $6.50 for a single Kohl Mine eyeliner to $15 for Silent Treatment, Instant UV Face Protector, an invisible lotion with SPF 12 designed to add sun protection to moisturizers or foundations.
Origins also plans to solidify its recent entry into the hair care business with the addition of a conditioner, called Knot Free, in March. The new item, which is peach scented, is designed to detangle and lightly condition hair.
The company entered the hair care market a month ago with the two shampoos — No Deposit, a citrus-scented deep cleansing preparation, and Clear Head Mint Shampoo, which is designed for frequent use.
Each hair care item is priced at $10 for an 8.5-oz. bottle.
According to Myers, each of Origins’s doors has been selling an average of 15 to 20 shampoos a week since the launch.
“Hair care will probably never be a huge business for us. I see it representing maybe 5 percent of sales,” Lauder said. “But now we feel we are able to complete our customer’s total regimen, from the time they get into the shower to the time they put the finishing touches on their makeup and walk out the door.”

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