NEW YORK — Retailers are packing their bags for San Diego and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Marketplace Meeting that kicks off June 24. Marketplace is the biggest gathering in the mass market industry of suppliers and merchants. The buyers attending represent more than 100,000 doors with sales exceeding $540 billion.

Once again, buyers expect to be bombarded with new beauty lines. In fact, most manufacturers anticipate retailers will be looking for interesting new products to bring life back to the cosmetics department. This is especially the case since some of the major new launches are not performing as well as expected.

Wendy Chang, vice president of product development for Pantina, knows just what it is like to be one of those small companies hoping for a nod from a major chain. Just last year at Marketplace in New Orleans, Chang launched her line called Pantina. Although it hasn’t been easy, Pantina has secured precious footage in several retailers. Most recently, Duane Reade took on several Pantina items, including Pantina’s Spring Look Books, nail lacquers and Extremely Glossy lipstick. Pantina is also being sold at Albertsons, Brooks-Eckerd and Rite Aid.

Many new companies launch at meetings such as Marketplace; not all weather the demands of the mass market. Buyers said Pantina delivered a line mimicking department and specialty store lines such as Stila. Chang added that Pantina also brings newness to the category, since packages and colors are changed by the season.

To keep ahead of the game, Pantina is going the next step to add more benefits to its beauty products. There will be a mineral line added that brings the healthy positioning of mineral makeup to mass. “It’s not easy to be a new vendor. You really have to come up with new ideas that are different so your product stands out,” said Chang. She cited her firm’s Shake It Baby, a shimmering dust powder, as an example of an item producing more than 70 percent sell-through.

Pricing on Pantina ranges from $4 to $7 — a key range for the mass market that avoids the pricing pitfalls many new lines are facing. “The mass market is pricing itself too high in many cases. Once you get up to $12, shoppers might as well go to Sephora,” said industry consultant Allan Mottus.

This story first appeared in the June 23, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Like many smaller manufacturers, Chang expects retailers will be looking for fresh ideas for their beauty walls at Marketplace. “Some retailers are already looking at changes for 2007. Some are disappointed with how the new brands are doing and they are rethinking and strategizing,” she said. She’s also eyeing international growth, especially in Asia.

Pantina is a family-owned company that has produced private label cosmetics for high-end beauty companies for almost 20 years.

Several first-time beauty exhibitors hope to be the Pantina success story of this year’s gathering:

  • AMC Beauty, which produces fragrance and body products, including Fusion, based on the daytime soap “All My Children.”
  • Natural product companies Avalon Beauty and Juice Beauty, who hope the mass market customer is ready for an invasion of natural beauty lines.
  • Beauty Bureau, which markets scented sticks and diffusers, and Jean Pierre Cosmetics, which offers beauty wipes.

Once again, NACDS will feature Meet the Market gatherings where retailers attend eight-minute, one-on-one meetings with smaller vendors. Entertainment will be provided by Kenny Loggins. The event wraps up June 27.

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