NAIL SUFFERS ANOTHER FLAT YEAR
Byline: Laura Klepacki
NEW YORK — The nail polish segment was marked by another year of nicks and smudges.
Sales of nail polish and treatment products declined 4.1 percent to $416 million, according to Information Resources Inc. However, bucking the trend, Sally Hansen provided a bright spot with an 11.7 percent rise in sales to $110 million, helping to modify the overall drop. A spokesperson for Sally Hansen said the company had a particularly strong fourth quarter, with sales up 30 percent, capturing market leadership for the first time in the process.
Nail polish sales had skyrocketed in the mid to late Nineties. But by the middle of 1999, sales started to turn and the downslide continued into 2000. Despite strong consumer response to its spring and summer shade collections, Sun Sparks and Bamboo Blast, Revlon’s nail business led the declines with an 18 percent falloff to sales of $68.7 million, according to IRI. Maybelline also saw its nail business shrink 10 percent.
Some observers remain unconcerned about the downshift, saying nail color is an inherently cyclical category that will naturally come back. Still, nail polish is a core piece of the color business. William McMenemy, executive vice president of marketing at Del Labs, parent of Sally Hansen, pointed out that the nail category is of tremendous importance to mass market retailers. “Unlike other beauty categories like lip color, eye makeup, skin care and fragrance, over 90 percent of the nail business is done at mass retailers.”
And, said McMenemy, “the mass market nail care category, which includes nail color, nail treatment, nail implements and artificial nail products, is the largest segment of decorative cosmetics.” Nail, he said, represents 28 percent of the $3.4 billion category or about $1 billion.
Revlon, formerly the nail color leader, assumes some culpability for the depressed sales. To stimulate interest, the brand is relaunching Top Speed with improved formula Super Top Speed that sets in 60 seconds and provides a high gloss. This is significant because quick- dry polishes have been criticized for peeling and chipping.
Cheryl Vitali, executive vice president of Revlon, said it is also putting increased focus on color stories. “It is a major driver of our core business,” she said.
Efforts this spring are entering from all directions. L’Oreal has introduced ShockProof, described as a polish that “refuses to chip.” It possesses a “film-plastique technology,” according to marketers.
Almay is getting into the nail treatment business with Almay Organic Fluoride Plus nail care while launching a fluoride-fortified nail color collection. Cover Girl continues to introduce promotional novelty items such as Sheer Ice, an eight-shade metallic glitter set that can be worn alone or over another color.
Sally Hansen is looking to strengthen its position and McMenemy said the company will continue to be aggressive. It will increase the number of color promotions this year tied to fashion trends, and will emphasize its new Chrome Nail Makeup, a color collection that provides a smooth finish of “mirror-like quality.” In the second half, Sally Hansen will introduce another new nail color line that is designed to improve the health of the nail.
The brand also has unveiled a group of treatment items enriched with Vitamin E called 3-in-1, offering multiple benefits for women who are time-stressed.
Meanwhile, smaller companies which had flooded the market have been backing off with a softening of consumer demand.
Maurice Rasgon, executive vice president of sales for Blue Cross Beauty Products, said, “It has been a rough couple of years.”
“I think we are going to have a flat year again, if not down,” added Rasgon. “We are not real excited about it and we are starting to get into new things.” This year, Blue Cross Beauty Products will emphasize its Heaven collection and focus on some distinct items such as its Love Bites edible cosmetics items.
Bill George, national sales manager for Markwins, said his company has continued to do well with nail polish, but it has always approached the market “in a nontraditional way.” Markwins sells polish in collections of multiple bottles, rather than as single items. But George is bullish that nail enamel will improve if fashion forecasters are on the money.
“There is a movement to better handbags and accessories and upscale dressing,” said George. “Women are paying attention to what they are wearing. I am positive that the polish will follow.”