Byline: Brid Costello

PARIS — Revlon increasingly is turning to Europe as a product test market and a place to bolster brand image.
It is part of the beleaguered beauty giant’s new strategy to develop products outside of the U.S. specifically for foreign markets. “We’re taking a foothold [in Europe], since Jeff Nugent wants us to think globally, but win locally,” said Giorgio Laurenti, Revlon’s president of France and Europe, referring to the company’s president and chief executive officer. “We want to drive Revlon’s global strategy and return as a leader in the fragrance, skin care and cosmetics markets.”
Europe is also a place where the company can recreate its identity. “Revlon evokes memories of glamour…over the years some felt the brand’s image and look did not correspond to what customers had in mind,” continued Laurenti. “We want to reset the clock, resource our strong points and develop Revlon products that fit that image.”
To that tune, the company will launch Revlon Creations, a 169-stockkeeping-unit color cosmetics line, which was developed by a team here. Industry sources estimate Creations could ring up $30 million in wholesale volume in its first 18 months. It will be introduced in 600-650 French doors in mid-April and ultimately hit 850-900 domestic locales, the same number that already sells Revlon’s “classic” color range.
In the early stages of the rollout, retailers will stock both Revlon makeup lines. But in time, they will be able to choose whether to sell either Creations, which caters to the 20-plus set, or the “classic” range, which targets consumers 30 and older, or both.
“We don’t want to disappoint loyal customers if they don’t want Creations,” explained Laurenti. “Revlon’s classic [line] will remain as long as there is demand.”
Italy and Germany are slated to get the line shortly after France. Other countries on the docket include Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and South America, though their launch dates are not yet set. Laurenti said the U.S. will get the line only if it performs in other markets first.
Creations includes five lipsticks: Rouge Fever, a moisturizing, satin-finish product; Pulp Brillance, for a natural finish and shine; Red and Rouge, for extra shine; Rouge Efficience, for long-lasting color, and Gloss Tendance for high-shine and long-lasting color. The line also comprises four foundations, four blushes, two mascaras, two eye shadows, three nail polishes and three pencils.
Prices for the new line will be 15 to 20 percent higher than for the classic one, ranging from $4.80 for a 4-ml. bottle of nail polish to $14 for a 30-ml. pump foundation. All prices are at current exchange rates and are for France. Laurenti said this should boost the brand’s positioning on the European market, with Creations priced between L’Oreal cosmetics and Clarins’s.
Advertising for Creations, at launch, will consist of single- and double-page print ads and in-store events. There will be no face chosen for the brand. Instead, Laurenti said, emphasis will be on the products themselves. For Creation’s packaging, everything is red — the color Revlon says connotes glamour. All of the products are swathed in deep, metallic-finished red. It is a color Revlon used for Rouge, the first scent the company ever launched in Europe. The fragrance was introduced to Continental Europe and the Middle East between late November and early December. At launch time, Laurenti estimated that the scent could ring up about $15 million in wholesale volume in its first year.
Revlon’s European focus comes at a crucial time for the ailing brand. As reported in February, the company published fourth-quarter sales for 2000 down 22.5 percent to $321.1 million. Revlon has since stepped up efforts to increase innovative product launches and improve product support. In the U.S., for example, new advertising agencies have been engaged and veteran spokeswoman Cindy Crawford has been ousted from her role as the face of Revlon cosmetics.