NEW YORK – Scarlett Johansson has another beauty contract.
L’Oréal Paris on Tuesday turned up the competitive heat by tapping Johansson to be the face of its new color cosmetics line, called HIP High Intensity Pigments. The line is aimed at reigniting consumers’ interest in drug stores, while luring alienated department store shoppers.
L’Oréal Paris, a division of L’Oréal USA, also is expected to use Johansson’s talents to promote other cosmetics and hair care products in the future, with her first gig representing HIP, shipping to mass retailers this month. Johansson’s multiyear contract is estimated by industry sources at $3 million a year. The L’Oréal deal came just as Johansson’s contract as the face of Calvin Klein fragrances ended last month. Calvin Klein Cosmetics paid Johansson an estimated $1 million a year.
HIP is expected to generate estimated first-year sales of $50 million, according to industry sources. The Johansson deal follows a WWD report on Dec. 19 that the actress was near to an agreement with the beauty giant.
The fair-skinned, plump-lipped beauty, who has four Golden Globe nominations under her belt – including a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in Woody Allen’s “Match Point” – will first appear in HIP TV ads during the Golden Globes telecast that will air Jan. 16. L’Oréal Paris is the award show’s sole beauty sponsor.
HIP is just one of several new launches expected to restructure cosmetics shelves this year, however, it appears to be the only one going after shoppers who are abandoning mass retailers and moving to more upscale outlets, such as Sephora, Bath & Body Works and C.O. Bigelow. The trading-up movement also extends to online and TV retailers, which consistently report double-digit beauty sales gains. HIP is also going after department store brands, such as Chanel, in the belief that shoppers are growing weary of paying $21 for lipstick tied to a fashion image.
“In the mix of the slew of new products, this one appears to be taking the bolder stand,” said Wendy Liebmann, president of WSL Strategic Retail. “There will be little confusion as to whether this is something they already have. It clearly is not. This is the line that has the chance to leap the competition. It is something you have not seen in these stores in a long time.”
HIP, in turn, has been likened by some mass retailers as the “MAC for the masses,” one that is made with a more intense color pigment in lipsticks, eye shadows and foundations. But its nickname transcends formulas. According to industry analyst Allan Mottus, “consumers not wanting to pay such high prices are either going the MAC route or they are going out” of the department store arena altogether to check out new brands like HIP.
Another differentiator of HIP, said Carol J. Hamilton, general manager for L’Oréal Paris, is its Color-Dispersion Technology, which makes the makeup easy to spread on the skin.
Ads will communicate the variety of ways HIP can be worn with “harmony” – muted, understated looks – and “disharmony” – bold makeup statements. Complete facial beauty looks will be featured in the ads, an image not seen before in mass cosmetics marketing, which generally features a high-performance product zeroed in on the face or body part it was designed for.
The HIP line comprises products for lip, eye and face. Lip items include a lipstick line and a lip gloss line, Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor lipstick and Brilliant Shine Lip Gloss. The 16 lipstick shades are formulated with jojoba oil, while each of the 10 gloss shades have a vanilla fragrance, as well as jojoba oil.
For eye, HIP offers Concentrated Shadow Duos, micropulverized powders designed to deliver even, intense color. Shadows are packaged in compacts that include an applicator and a mirror.
Face products include Flawless Liquid Makeup, a foundation that contains a combination of violet tones meant to illuminate darker skin. Formulated with SPF 15, each of the 16 shades is considered ideal for darker complexions.
There’s also a Vibrant Shimmer Bronzing Powder, a pressed bronzing powder for the face, which is available in four shades; a Blendable Blushing Crème in four shades; an Illuminating Highlighter in one universal shade, Shimmer, designed for face and body for shine. Prices start at $7 for shadow duos, $9 for glosses, $10 for lipstick and reach $13 for foundation.
HIP will be competing against a bunch of new products on cosmetics shelves. Revlon, for one, is introducing a new version of Almay targeting the woman on the go, as well as a line for older women, Vital Radiance. Maybelline New York, also owned by L’Oréal USA, is launching Pure, a line meant to target those under 30 with natural ingredients. And, Procter & Gamble is launching a line for the ethnic market under the Queen Latifah brand, as well as a line of liquid makeup under its Advanced Radiance brand, which targets women over 45.
Industry experts believe there is still an opportunity to get female shoppers excited about mass cosmetics, which apart from some bright spots in lip gloss sales, has suffered through a flat year.
Mottus reiterated cosmetics’ pricing issue, stating that “department stores are going so far up in price that they are losing the fashion-forward makeup customer.” L’Oréal, of all the mass brands, he said, is the only one “putting the steps in mass for the person who is ready to step out of the department store.”
The choice of Johansson to debut as HIP’s face was carefully planned, Mottus said.
“Carol Hamilton is very shrewd about the celebrity game. She doesn’t just fall in love with a name, she tries to match products with a person.”
He was most impressed with L’Oréal’s decision to feature total beauty looks in ads. “I can’t say enough of L’Oréal doing it this way. No one in the mass area has done that, which is a fashion and specialty way of going about it.”
Liebmann said that in some ways mass brands have given the mass beauty customer a way to other distribution channels, creating an opportunity for prestige brands to attract her.
In recent years “mass companies just kept honing in on the same customer by tweaking existing products,” she continued. “We haven’t seen anything extra bold in color cosmetics in a long time. Maybe it was ColorStay that was the last one. But I think what L’Oréal is really saying with HIP is this is the market we live in and we want to take a bold stand and not the let mass color cosmetics customer keep trickling out of our distribution.”
Judy Wray, category manager at Rite Aid, said the line will receive two feet of merchandising space at stores.
“L’Oréal sponsored a HIP makeover at Rite Aid headquarters and the women who participated love the product. We expect big things from this line,” Wray said.
Peter Flatow, president of Co-Knowledge, a Westport, Conn.-based consulting firm, said that in a year, after the whirlwind surrounding HIP dies down, L’Oréal will only be a stronger company because of it.
“The great thing about cosmetics companies is that this is a fickle business more than any other market. The fact is consumers are responsive to newness, the possibility to improve themselves, try different colors, and be part of what is the latest. The basic definition of success here is volume, built by awareness, trial, repeat purchase and rate of repeat. Can L’Oréal get them to try a new item with a great ad campaign? The answer is absolutely yes. The whole foundation of brand equity leads to trial. The question is can they get repeat purchases. While in the cosmetics business the rate of repeat is less important because all of these companies are working at bringing out new things, marketing 101 says that you want to generate news and keep a brand top of mind. They are using HIP to build on the L’Oréal equity, which is a success, too.”