NEW YORK — It’s back to a three-way horse race in color cosmetics.
And it could become an increasingly hot contest as each of the three leading brands gears up for the debut of their spring programs, which typically begin in January.
Revlon’s retail sales gains in the past 10 months have put it back in the heat with Maybelline and Cover Girl. The last time the three were neck and neck for market-share leadership was in the first quarter of 2000 when Maybelline, with climbing sales, broke from its longstanding third-place ranking and strode into first.
Today, like then, there is less than one percentage point difference among the three.
According to Information Resources Inc., for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 10, Maybelline possessed a 16.3 percent market share, Revlon held a 15.5 percent share followed by Cover Girl with a 15.4 percent share. The data does not include Wal-Mart.
Revlon’s fragile comeback, however, has not elevated the category, which has been losing sales and profit margins. (See related story, page 15.) Mass color sales are down 0.2 percent to $2.89 billion for the year, while unit sales have shrunk 3.1 percent. Maybelline’s sales have eased 0.9 percent to $471.3 million with a 2.7 percent drop in unit sales. Cover Girl’s dollar sales inched up 1.1 percent to $447.7 million, but units have slipped 3.4 percent. At Revlon, there has been a 4.9 percent gain in dollars — to $450.2 million — and a jump in unit sales of 5.2 percent.
But with distinct marketing efforts being put forth by each of the leading brands, along with news from smaller existing players and newcomers, market shares could easily shift.
Maybelline will be taking itself in a new direction in the U.S. next year, as it changes its name to Maybelline New York, severing its Memphis roots for good. Globally, Maybelline has been using New York in its title for several years. Along with the name change, retailers say, Maybelline plans to spice up its image with an expanded product selection and by better defining its shade range within its planogram. The moves are expected to make the brand appealing to a wider range of consumers. One retailer commented that the shift “brings a spirit to Maybelline and I think it gives the brand some direction.” Another retailer said she was “blown away” by the Maybelline presentation, which she described as a bit more funky and youthful. One cautioned that the changes could be good as long as the brand doesn’t get “too edgy.”
Part of the Maybelline plan also includes bringing in its Colorama nail color line, which is packaged in smaller bottles than a typical polish and will be at the bargain retail price of $1.99.
Revlon is sticking to its plans to stress its fashionable heritage, and continues to embark on multidirectional marketing plans, or a 360-degree approach. For holiday it is playing up its Red Rocks collection and in spring will put a big push behind a tie-in with the “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” film. Despite its assent at retail, Revlon’s future is still clouded by a slippery financial structure that serves a $1.7-plus billion debt.
Cover Girl is expected to continue the course that has kept it in a leadership position — combining new formula technologies with on-target shade ranges, while maintaining the brand’s fresh, healthy and natural image. Its marketing plans are increasingly targeting messages for niche consumer groups.
Meanwhile, other brands are gearing up to grab a bigger piece of the pie next year.
Neutrogena is coming out with a new cosmetics collection that is intended to expand its multicultural appeal with shades for Latina and Mediterranean skin tones, according to a company spokeswoman. The brand is also “working with industry experts to establish breakthrough universal shading appropriate for all skin tones.” The company declined to offer more details.
Del Laboratories is planning to tweak its new Sally Hansen Healing Beauty planogram and introduce Fast and Flawless Skin Brighteners capitalizing on the its top-selling Fast and Flawless makeup. It also has a new lineup of leg makeup.
Then bringing some catwalk glamour to the mix, Iman is expected to introduce a cosmetics line to the mass market next year. Some retailers have already been sent sample products. The supermodel already has products selling in specialty and department stores including Carson Pirie Scott, Cosmetics Plus and J.C. Penney.