BEAUTY TURNS TO SAMPLE SALES
Byline: Faye Brookman
NEW YORK — Even without beauty consultants, mass marketers are doing more sampling.
The only wrinkle: The trial sizes aren’t the freebies endemic to department store counters. Instead, they are salable samples that manufacturers hope will encourage future sales.
Procter & Gamble has Tiny Trys, small samples of foundation or lipsticks with an average price of $1.25. So important are the samples that P&G has worked them into its new Shade Central fixture. And for those without the fixture, P&G has added Tiny Trys on a promotional basis.
Physicians Formula also has salable samples on the wall in Target and Drug Fair in New Jersey. And Revlon Inc. plans to expand its samplers in the new Max fixture it is rolling out. Revlon has traditionally offered samplers for new launches in Revlon and Almay.
Although manufacturers and retailers said they’d love to distribute free samples of new items to build trial, they contended they were limited by the lack of consultants to give out the samples. One obstacle in building sales of new items, said Cheryl Vitali, executive vice president and general manager of the Revlon brand globally, has been that consumers are afraid to make a mistake. Although drug chains such as CVS and Rite Aid offer full refunds for returned makeup, shoppers still want to try before they buy.
Revlon’s new Max fixture, said Vitali, has special room built into it for salable samples. The fixture is the first new display for Revlon in 10 years. Vitali believes that through a new design and features such as trials, the display will make mass beauty easier to shop.
Revlon will test Max with two retailers and plans to roll it out to 5,000 doors by the end of 2001. In the meantime, about 10,000 doors are receiving “dress-up” kits to enable use of samplers with existing fixtures. Retailers said samplers will be crucial as Revlon delves more deeply into skin care, a category executives have said has great potential for the beauty manufacturer.
Sources at several chains already using Procter & Gamble’s Shade Central praised the Tiny Trys. At first blush, many retailers expressed concern that the trial area would bring down the overall transactions for cosmetics because of the low prices. At the time of the debut, P&G’s Marc Pritchard promised it would be a profit center. Several retailers, who expressed concern about samples in the fixture, asked P&G to make the trials available in prepacks. “They wanted 3 feet, and that was too much. But we do bring them in on a promotional basis,” said one top chain executive.
Anne Martin, global marketing manager for Procter & Gamble Cosmetics, said the Cover Girl program was off to a fast start.
“Our new ‘try a little, buy a little’ salable samples, called Tiny Trys, have only been widely available to mass consumers since April. In that short time, over three quarters of a million of these trial sizes of our foundation and lip products have been sold, increasing Cover Girl’s volume without any advertising support. As you can imagine, we’re thrilled with these early results.”
Revlon’s Vitali said she firmly believed the trials didn’t detract from sales. “People will come back for a full size of what they want. There are really only a few wears in the samples.”
“We are very much in favor of sample-size products,” said Kathy Steirly, vice president of beauty merchandising for Eckerd Corp., Clearwater, Fla. “We believe it encourages trial of new products, colors and flavors. Our store teams were very excited when they first saw the sample-size section in P&G’s program.”
CVS has made a big splash with tiny sizes. A store in the Bridgewater Commons Shopping Center in Bridgewater, N.J., has an entire table display devoted to P&G Tiny Trys.
Retailers cautioned, however, that trial sizes weren’t for every store. “Some of our stores do well with them, others don’t,” said one executive for a New Jersey chain. And, Marti Bentley, cosmetics buyer for Duane Reade in Manhattan pointed out the trials are in high-pilferage products that her chain avoids. She said, however, that she believed the trials could work well in other markets.
Salable trial sizes are virtually a must in fragrances, buyers added. In fact, most fragrances are now launched first with a mini and then followed up with a full size.
Walgreen Co. opened its 3,000th store on May 11 in Chicago’s Greektown. On hand for the celebration was Charles R. Walgreen Jr., former company chairman and son of the founder. The store is an unusual combination of traditional Walgreens architecture with nuances aimed to please the local Greek clientele. Greek signs are used throughout the store, along with brickwork matching other turn-of-the-century buildings in the neighborhood. Walgreens plans to open 450 new stores nationwide in 2000. “Reaching our goal of 3,000 stores in the year 2000 — and having doubled our chain in just one decade — is an accomplishment everyone at Walgreens should be proud of,” L. Daniel Jorndt, chairman and chief executive officer of the Deerfield, Ill., chain said at the opening.
The beauty department reflects the retailer’s traditional design featuring a service counter. Walgreens is one of a handful of chains that is reportedly eyeing universal fixtures in future stores. Zellers, the Canadian mass retailer, has just opened its first store with universal fixtures. “It is a move that has to be done,” said one executive. “We will do it with class, and it will make managing beauty easier.”