Byline: Faye Brookman

NEW YORK — Kiss Products’ executives are licking their lips over their potential nail care sales.
The Port Washington, N.Y.-based marketer of nail products ranging from artificial nails to Mickey Mouse nail polish has new faces on its management team, new packaging and a bevy of innovative items to help ignite the nail care business.
The nail care category has lost some of its shine as women eschew artificial nails in favor of natural nails. Color sales have been drained by a lack of new hues to rival the punch of colors such as Vamp several years ago.
Overall nail care sales, according to statistics from Information Resources, Inc., for the 52-weeks ended May 21, 2000, were down 4.5 percent to $815 million. Hard hit were artificial nails and accessories, where sales were off 5.2 percent, and nail polish, with sales plummeting 7.3 percent.
Hoping to sharpen up sales, Kiss Products tapped two industry veterans: former Revlon executive Grace Tallon, who joined last month as vice president, marketing, and Ralph Sutherland, who assumed the role of executive vice president of sales. Sutherland has extensive experience with firms such as CCA and Alberto-Culver. One of the duo’s first duties has been to convey to retailers a myriad of new Kiss initiatives.
The entire Kiss line has been repackaged to present a cleaner look on peg walls. Retailers have long lamented that nail care — with odd shaped boxes and a hodgepodge of package designs — has been difficult to merchandise. “Retailers reacted positively to our new packages,” said Tallon. “They think it will be easier to shop.”
Beyond new packaging, Kiss is attempting to put pizzazz into artificial nails with pre-decorated products. The so-called luxury nails have painted designs that can’t even be duplicated in salons, according to Sutherland. “It is just another way to get people interested in artificial,” he added. Tallon said Kiss is working on other products that are slated to debut later this year that will entice more women to apply artificial nails. “We think we can do more to appeal to entry- level users,” she said.
Kiss is also a major player in polish. For fall 2000, Kiss polish will feature looks such as marbleized manicures in cutting-edge colors such as Gold Citrine and Black Cherry. Kiss is working to mesh nails with fashion. “Over the past few years, we’ve seen the steady development of adornments in many forms,” said Tallon, referring to mendhi and tattoos to body glitter. “This trend continues to evolve into fall 2000 with gold accents in jewelry and clothing as well as ethnic or Asian-inspired prints and shades. As this continues, Kiss looks to bring focus to nails as part of this look,” Tallon said.
That message will be part of a new advertising campaign Kiss is breaking this fall called The Power of Ten. Among the ads are “Girl with Shoes,” which touts a kit of hand-painted nails accented with jewels with a suggested retail price of $7.49. Another portion of the print campaign is “Girl With Cards,” which touts the polishes needed for marbleized looks.
In addition to color and artificial nails, Kiss has the licensing rights for Minnie Mouse and Winnie-the-Pooh nail colors. As part of Kiss’s new thrust, the nail colors have been repackaged into bottles that are shaped like Minnie and Pooh. There are also nail kits based on other Disney hits such as “Toy Story 2” and “Dinosaur.” Tallon said the novelty items appeal to not only young girls, but many women in their 20s who also have a love of Mickey and Pooh.
Kiss is already the market leader in artificial nails with sales of $37 million and a 54 percent share. The company is fifth in nail accessories. The brand, however, has yet to crack the top 10 in color and treatment — a category dominated by Del Laboratories with Sally Hansen.

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