Byline: Laura Klepacki

NEW YORK — Revlon is presenting a new face to the American market.
Early next year the industry’s leading lipstick brand hopes to make a splash with the introduction of two distinct product collections — Skinlights, a new color item for face, and Vitamin C Absolutes, a treatment line. Both collections, Revlon marketers claim, offer something unique for mass market consumers.
At the same time, the company is in the midst of transforming its business model in efforts to improve its sales and inventory management system. Revlon is expected to announce a plan Monday that sets new return and discounting policies and also addresses promotional funding and merchandising issues.
First, in an attempt to draw back women who have left the foundation category, in January Revlon will unveil Skinlights, described as a “skin brightener.” Skinlights, which comes in a lotion, stick and powder versions, can be used like a foundation or on top of foundation to provide more color. It is not designed to match skin tones like a traditional foundation, but to add a hint of color to skin. The five shades include: natural light, pink light, peach light, golden light and bronze light. According to promotional materials, the formula, along with vitamins A, C, E and SPF 10, contains “light reflective crystal color” and “skin enhancing minerals.” Every item is priced $13.95.
For the spring launch period, Revlon will also market a new fragrance — Skinlights Sheer Scent — its first in the U.S. since the introduction of She in 1997. A 3.2-oz. bottle is priced $15.
In Europe, where Revlon boasts a strong fragrance business, Skinlights Sheer Scent, a citrus and floral fragrance, will become a permanent item.
Further tying into Skinlights, Revlon is offering two spring color collections — ColorLights, with pinks and peach tones and BronzeLights. The palettes will feature a new item called Eye Glossing. A pot is $5.50.
Revlon is viewing the introduction as a significant new entry. “We are trying to create a new category,” said Cheryl Vitali, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Revlon Brand Equity Group.
Vitali said bringing color to the face is a natural step, noting that fashion has embraced color and it has transferred to cosmetics in the nail and eye categories. “With Skinlights, it is playful and beautiful.” Skinlights, said Vitali, does not provide full coverage. “It’s about looking like you have better skin than you have.”
Nancy Campbell, vice president of marketing at Revlon, added “This is really different and really neat. It is face makeup that she will want to play with.” Other key members of Revlon’s development team included Donna Barasch, senior vice president of product marketing, and Kathy Hagan, senior director of product marketing.
Except to say Skinlights will be supported “very aggressively”, Revlon marketing executives declined to comment on sales projections or its promotional budget. Industry sources however said Revlon is likely to spend up to $20 million on the launch expecting first-year sales of $40 million. Revlon’s advertising plans includes a major print campaign and some television.
And, as reported, in January Revlon will take its first major step back into the skin care market with Vitamin C Absolutes — which is already in Europe.
Breaking into the crowded and competitive U.S. skin care category is not easy with power brands like L’Oreal, Olay and Neutrogena protective of shelf space. Instead of elbowing the competition, Revlon will initially merchandise the five-item group on its color wall.
Revlon marketers say that Absolutes’ colorful, upscale packaging will play better next to its color line. “We thought we can convert Revlon users because it would pop off the shelves,” said Vitali.
But, retailers question whether it is just not too costly for Revlon to get the items into the skin care aisle. The buyer for one regional chain noted that the best selling items in her stores are the ones most heavily promoted.
According to sources, Revlon is expected to spend some $10 million to support the launch, with projected first-year sales of $20 million. A major print campaign is planned. The antioxidant vitamin C has been widely used in prestige brands such as Lancome’s Vitabolic and Helena Rubenstein’s Force C. But until now, had not been translated at mass. Many mass brands offer vitamin C as one of several vitamin components, but not as a primary ingredient.
Absolutes contains six items — an oil-free lotion, a cream, a cleanser, body lotion, eye contour cream and skin tonic The cream and lotion feature SPF 15. Prices range from $8.95 to $14.95.
Marketers say the products are designed to rejuvenate and “wakeup” skin’s natural radiance. And also contain a “hydrating complex” and “skin enhancers, such as optical diffusers to boost skin’s luminosity. It is positioned as a “preventative” line for women 25 to 49.
“We’ve only seen a preliminary plan, but I think Skinlights could have a lot of possibility. It seems similar to Magic from Prescriptives, which would be exciting to bring to the mass market,” said Marti Bentley, cosmetics buyer at Duane Reade.
While Bentley wasn’t familiar with details of the Absolutes line, she commented that the chain’s skin care business in general was “very strong.” According to Information Resources Inc., skin care sales grew 10.6 percent for the year ended Sept. 10, to $1.7 billion.
Carol King, director of purchasing at Rita Ann Distributors, said while she hasn’t seen Revlon’s proposals, the concepts sound interesting. However, she suggested Revlon’s play in the skin care market could be more challenging than launching a new color product. “Where Revlon is not a known entity it might be more difficult, than say L’Oreal, which has been in the [skin care] market a while.”