CATCH A WAVE: SEPHORA TAKES AIM AT CALIF. JUNIORS
Byline: Katherine Bowers
LOS ANGELES — Now that the U.S. map is alight with Sephora stores, the ever-growing cosmetics retailer is eyeing generation Y as its new frontier.
The company began merchandising Sugar Cosmetics, a newcomer junior brand, this past Monday at its newest store, at the Downtown Disney retail development abutting the new Disneyland California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, Calif.
Sephora is also in final talks to place Roxy Beauty Supply in the Disney location, executives from both Sephora and Quiksilver Inc., which owns the Roxy label, confirmed. Shashi Batra, Sephora’s senior vice president of merchandising, said these two bubbly, lighthearted brands — both are packaged in pink with polkadots — create a “makeup as toys” approach that’s new to the Sephora mix.
“What these lines sell are fashion accents packaged like accessories. Little tools to highlight a particular feature — lip glosses and glitters,” Batra said. “About 70 to 80 percent of this business is lip gloss. So it’s almost an alternative to going out and buying a nice colored chapstick.”
Batra declined to give Sugar sales for its first week, but by Wednesday morning, employees had to restock shelves for a WWD photographer. Batra cited lip glosses and Crush, a sugar-scented body mist, as top sellers.
Sugar Cosmetics is scheduled to roll out in about 10 Sephora doors this spring, said Carisa Janes, a beauty consultant who created the sugary-flavored cosmetics line for Irvine, Calif.-based sportswear firm R&S Trading Co. Inc. Janes also founded upscale beauty line Body & Soul, which Sephora carries.
Roxy is pursuing an eight-store Sephora launch to kick off in June with bin and pegged placement next to Sugar, according to Heidi Draper, Quiksilver’s vice president of sales for beauty. Initial plans call for the Disney location to test color, while the other stores will carry Roxy’s bath and body products, such as sparkling body butter and fruity lotions. While Draper wouldn’t comment on projected sales, industry sources estimated that depending on the breadth of the rollout, Roxy could do as much as $500,000 in Sephora in its first year. Sugar could do $150,000 or more, said the source.
The Sugar launch — and pending Roxy business — are part and parcel of the retailer’s broader attempt to understand the many young customers it attracts — and how much business can be done catering to girls ages 12 to 18.
“Certainly, an important question is who are we getting [in the stores]?” said Batra. “We’re looking at what [courting a young customer] means, not in terms of one line, but what it means as a strategy.” Batra said the company is about to kick off a research project aimed at learning more about a younger customer.
In terms of getting a fix on the teen customer, Disney is an ideal place to start. The theme park attracts vacationing families with adolescents as well as the Orange County locals that have pumped the Huntington Beach, Calif.-based Roxy brand full of dollars in recent years.
A spokesman for Disney theme parks said Downtown Disney is projected to draw seven million visitors next year, about half of whom will be tourists.
“Certainly, one of the things we’re trying to achieve is to demonstrate the cachet of California, and having local brands [like Roxy and Sugar] in our retail certainly reinforces the message that California is a place where trends begin,” the spokesman noted.
Draper said the location is ideal for Roxy’s Sephora bow.
“Our Orange County market is on fire,” she said. “And we have people close by that can keep it looking great, which I think matters a lot for the first test.”
In some respects, Sugar and Roxy have burst out of the gate with similar distribution. Both have a specialty store base and both recently launched at Nordstrom in the junior-oriented Brass Plum department. Roxy has done a strong business in fruity lotions and lip and nail color kits, priced at $15-$18. Sugar has made strides with body sprays, $18, and sugar-flavored lip gloss — both of which will be packaged into kits for spring 2001.
Batra said he could anticipate placing Sugar and Roxy at stores that have a strong tourist mix, such as in Las Vegas and the upcoming Times Square location.
“I think we’ll put it in an area that’s high-traffic,” he said. “Roxy puts five nail polishes in a box and it becomes a great impulse for a gift.”