Byline: Laura Klepacki

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Interactive cosmetics, milk-based soaps and lotions, licensed cartoon makeup lines and teen bath and body collections were among some of the novel beauty and bath items presented to retailers earlier this week during the three-day Efficient Promotion Planning Session conference at the historic Grove Park Inn here.
Sponsored by Efficient Consumer Response Management Inc., the event was the largest one yet for the mass beauty market, drawing some 66 manufacturers and nearly an equal number of retailers, according to Charles Bowlus, president of ECRM. In fact, about 40 manufacturers and 15 retailers had to be turned away, he said. ECRM also organizes conferences for other product categories, such as hair care and pharmacy.
The conference format, where each manufacturer displays in a private suite, kept retailers hopping from one 20- minute session to another from 8 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and from 8 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. on Wednesday.
While Neutrogena and Oil of Olay may have gobbled up some retail space from smaller brands last year, enthusiasm among manufacturers to launch new items, particularly in the teen area, remained strong. Undaunted, many manufacturers at the show said they want to make their promotional items permanent.
“You can only drive business so far with countertop,” noted Alan Torgerson, director of sales and marketing at Ferity Cosmetics, who hopes to get his brand a permanent slot. He added, “teens need a destination.”
However, defining which products teens want isn’t an exact science, he said. That’s why Ferity items range from wild glitter to soft, pretty shades. “Teens flop between wanting to be young one moment and older the next,” said Torgerson. “So we don’t just do glitter. They also want basic colors.” He said he is also convinced that teens want their own lines.
So, apparently, are others.
Townley Cosmetics presented its new wall unit, a look and product collection. Benita Corbin, a buyer for Marsh Supermarkets, said she is contemplating it for her stores. “I liked the glitters and the hair clips. It is really neat and innovative.”
And Isaac Gindi, president of X-Tatic, unveiled a blue and pink acrylic floor unit that turns. As he demonstrated the unit, he described the fixture as interactive. “Interactive” appeared to be the latest watchword in teen product development and merchandising among exhibitors — that is, presenting items that teens can play with, whether it be a mechanical pencil that clicks or a fixture that turns.
There was no dearth of novelty items. Fing’rs showed retailers its new “Lava Lips and Glitter Tips” promotion, which features a lip gloss that looks like a Lava lamp. Sel-Leb put Lip Candy, a lip gloss with gummy candy, on its product menu. Blue Cross Beauty products displayed Mood Struck, a nail lacquer that changes color with body temperature, and Wet ‘n’ Wild promoted Liquid Syrup, a lip gloss designed to plump up lips.
“We find that teens are looking for promotional items. They want to try what is going on in that time period,” said Michael Tedesco, president at Fifth Avenue. “They are ‘at-the-moment shoppers.’ “
And Fifth Avenue, which sold three million of its Glamour Rox lip gloss rings last year, plans to do a 30-second television commercial, one of the first of such efforts to come from an independent teen line.
Maybelline, which appeals to both teens and adults and is one of the largest exhibitors, has big plans for fall, including a new lipstick and foundation. It is also repositioning its top-selling Express Nail polish with a longer wear, nonchip formula.
Some manufacturers were going for an even younger audience. Worldwide Cosmetics is expanding beyond its Betty Boop nail polish with a selection of color cosmetics, and Minnetonka is launching Looney Tunes cosmetics including characters such as Tweety Bird. Later this year, it will add items with the Powder Puff Girls logo. Meanwhile, Townley’s Hello Kitty products will be tied in with a national promotion this summer. The company declined to provide further details.
Most buyers seemed to find something they liked.
Coleen Pierce, cosmetics coordinator for Bartell Drug Co., commented she usually finds something interesting from the Markwins company and doesn’t see any letup in the teen market. “There is still a demand for it. But I wonder how long glitter will last.” Glancing at a lip gloss ring, she remarked, “I still like lip gloss rings.”
And Caboodles, which just launched its teen cosmetics line last year, already has plans to expand with a bath and body line that features unique packaging. “The bottles are in really different shapes,” commented Marsh’s Corbin.
San Francisco Soap was among a group of vendors showing holiday bath promotions. For its year-old Simply Be Well herbal bath line, it offered items contained in a galvanized pail with colorized black-and-white photos of children. And seeing expanding sales in anti-bacterial products, it has added two items — a waterless cleanser and a hand lotion — to its existing liquid soap lineup.
For Christmas, Benjamin Ansehl is launching its Herb Garden line, which comes in three flavors — echinacea, St. John’s wort and kava kava.
While there was a preponderance of food combo store retailers, representatives from Kmart, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Target were also drawn to the event. And several e-commerce sites also arrived to look for new ideas. A buyer for More.com was impressed by the cosmetic bags offered by Susan Faris Designs. The site, she said, currently does not offer bags. Bags were a bigger element of the show than in the past, including an exhibit from Living Things, which claims 70 percent of mass market sales.
Susan Faris, owner of Faris Designs, said that if mass retailers want to keep their cosmetics business, “they are going to have to offer bags.” There are too many other outlets that give bags with their purchase, she noted.
One drug buyer expressed interest in Victoria Vogue’s new Seventeen makeup sponges and implements line. The company said it plans to go even further into the teen arena in the future with bath items.
Burlington Toiletries is launching its own branded teen collection, called Milk Bar, with a body wash, body cream and lip gloss. The company will unveil another collection for teens in time for back-to-school, but declined to elaborate.
Hollywood Color Co., along with its flagship shimmer powder, now offers milk-protein-based body lotion and milk bath in four flavors — herbal, peaches and cream, cinnamon oatmeal and rose milk. The company has also developed an aloe vera-based glitter gel.
Beyond scoping out new introductions, show attendees said they wondered about the future of universal fixturing, a merchandising concept now being tested by Wal-Mart (see related story page 15). And some manufacturers eager to get products on retail shelves expressed difficulties in meeting demanding buyer requests to tailor products for their departments.
Overall, however, the show was a productive one, according to both manufacturers and retailers present — despite the fact that many began showing signs of wear by Tuesday afternoon from the demanding pace.
Bowlus thinks of the conference more as “a new business model” than a trade show.
Later this year, Bowlus plans to offer an online product auction and chat rooms. “It is a new world with the Internet,” he said.

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