NEW YORK — Lancôme has its sights set on expanding its burgeoning eye business.

The beauty giant is gearing up for a global launch of Color Design — which will begin life as an eye shadow line in mid-November, but which is slated to roll out with an expanded range of color cosmetics categories next year.

Edgar Huber, president of the Luxury Products Division at L’Oréal USA, noted that Lancôme will offer “a tailor-made” approach to eye color by offering single shades in five different finishes for this launch. “This approach allows us to increase the offer to our customers, and to keep Lancôme a modern, edgy brand,” he said.

“As part of a bigger vision for Lancôme, we want to take the dominance that we have in mascara and take it to the total eye,” added Nina White, Lancôme’s deputy general manager and senior vice president of marketing, of the new eye shadows. And the team isn’t planning on stopping there, White added, saying that Color Design would serve as a springboard for other color products. “With Color Design, we are starting a lineup that will develop into numerous other categories beginning next year,” said White.

Added Eric Lauzat, named president of the brand in the U.S. this past summer: “We see 2006 as a turning point for Lancôme. We’re planning to make it more modern, and Color Design is a key part of that strategy.”

In the U.S., the Color Design eye shadow range will launch with 38 shades, about half of which were developed specifically for the American market. The colors, each $14.50, are divided among five categories: sheen, shimmer, metallic, intense and matte. It marks the first time that the brand has chosen to break down an eye shadow range by finish, noted Leonardo Chavez, assistant vice president of marketing for Lancôme. As well, two of those finishes, metallic and intense — a high-pigment finish — are new for the brand, he added. “And with their microaired technology,” he said, “there is a great balance between color payoff and blendability.”

In other markets, just 19 of the shades will be launched. As well, in the U.S., Colour Focus, an existing line that retails eye shadows for $16 and up, will be phased out. In other markets, Colour Focus will be retained as a more high-end option.

This story first appeared in the October 28, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The new formulas, Chavez added, are designed to work best with the brand’s makeup brushes, a point that will be emphasized with the brand’s new counter display. The merchandising unit features all of the shades, broken down into their finish families, on a circular display that resembles an artist’s palette — which also includes slots for the three existing brushes the brand plans to cross-merchandise with the eye shadows.

“We want to create an atmosphere at the counter where customers feel comfortable coming up to play,” added White.

The new eye shadows will begin rolling out to the brand’s 2,200 U.S. department and specialty store doors in mid-November. While none of the executives would discuss sales figures or advertising promotion, industry sources estimated that the eye shadows would do upward of $15 million at retail in their first year on counter.

The brand also is planning to take what White called “a nontraditional approach with our strategic media partners,” beginning in January; she declined to be more specific, noting that the brand is still finalizing details. The eye shadows will be featured in the brand’s upcoming gift-with-purchase and purchase-with-purchase sets and in-store events.

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