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NEW YORK — The color wall in mass stores is poised for an overhaul next year as beauty’s top players churn out aggressive launches in response to several years of lackluster innovation and flat sales, specifically in the foundation and lipstick segments — an estimated $800 million business. Maybelline New York’s 2006 portfolio addresses gaps in lipstick and foundation — as well as eye — with three major launches that could generate as much as $100 million in first-year sales at retail, sources said.

The new items, which launch in January, include the Pure Collection, a line of foundations, powders and concealers formulated with vitamin E, aloe and chamomile to soothe and condition all skin types. Pure aims to deliver superior coverage despite formulas with few fillers and a high level of water. Within lip, there’s Superstay 16-hour lipstick, an item that marks Maybelline New York’s entry into the transfer-proof lipstick segment. And in eye, there’s a new mascara, Lash Stylist, which delivers formula via a V-shaped brush, as well as Line Stylist, an eyeliner that delivers thick and thin lines.

“For the first time, we have been able to come out with items in each of the three segments at the same time — all fully supported in a very big way,” said Karen Fondu, president, Maybelline New York/Garnier U.S., who would not comment on sales estimates or the new launches’ ad budget. One retailer, however, was told in a presentation by Maybelline New York, that as much as $25 million will be spent to support each launch.

The new items hope to create some excitement at the cosmetics wall, which retailers said has been limited.

“We’ve had a few years of extremely flat sales,” said one highly placed retailer, “and not just that, but there hasn’t been anything stellar or exciting. It’s all about stealing market share. But I am excited about next year. We have L’Oréal HIP and Revlon’s Vital Radiance, which are trying to attract new users. Then there’s Maybelline New York’s initiatives, which look to grow market share. I think all of those efforts are going to pay off in a category that will grow again.”

Another retailer from a regional drugstore chain was more skeptical and said she wouldn’t be influenced by the glitz, glamour and overall breadth of the launches, but would tailor her buy to items that will meet her chains’ demographic: an older and ethnic consumer.

This story first appeared in the October 21, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I think sales have been so flat that everybody is basically redoing their lines to attract customers. I don’t know that any of it is innovative, it’s just a different approach to see what will stick and what won’t,” the buyer said.

Fondu agrees that the cosmetics category is challenged, in part from a lack of innovation in products and in-store merchandising. But she views this as “a big opportunity for continued growth in the mass market, and for Maybelline New York” in particular.

Sales of foundation in food, drug and mass stores fell 1.9 percent in the most recent 52 weeks ended Oct. 2, to $332.8 million, according to Information Resources Inc. Data does not include sales at Wal-Mart. According to IRI, Maybelline New York makes the fourth best-selling foundation, Dream Matte, which garnered a 4.4 percent dollar share for the period. Like Dream Matte, Pure Foundation is designed to have broad appeal, but targets 15- to 30-year-olds still wary of using foundation.

“They are the ones that think foundation can be bad for their skin, and this consumer can’t afford a lack of coverage. Pure’s real goal is to get more women into the category,” Fondu said. Pure achieves coverage with pigment concentration, despite a strong water formula. Formulas are oil-free and are available in 12 shades.

Pure Powder has a lightweight, shine-free formula and is available in three shades.

Pure Concealer, available in three shades, contains 2 percent salicylic acid, “the most that will be available in the mass market,” said Cheryl Vitali, senior vice president of marketing for Maybelline New York/Garnier U.S.

Pure items are priced at $6.25, “an entry-level price point,” Fondu pointed out.

The new lipstick, 16-hour Superstay, is the company’s entry into transfer-proof lipstick and will surely rival existing items offered at mass, such as CoverGirl Outlast. The patent-pending formula, which is a silicone-based balm, is one Vitali calls “high elasticity” because it “moves with your lips.”

Fondu is excited about Superstay since the lip category has been fairly stagnant in product innovation. Lipstick sales fell 7.6 percent during the period due mainly to the increase in sales of lip gloss, a lower-ticket item, which grew 4.3 percent to $131 million. Superstay will retail for $9.99. It’s refillable clear balm cartridge will sell for $4.99.

Fondu noted that the company’s fall launch of Moisture Extreme is meant to bring a new generation of moisturizing lipstick to the category, while Superstay, which took nearly five years to develop, addresses the problems of long-wearing lipsticks, such as poor color endurance, dryness and chipping. Troy Surratt, global consulting makeup artist for Maybelline New York, was instrumental in the development of Superstay and Pure, she said.

Superstay’s 20 hues contain “polymers to allow color to show without a dry, cake-y feel that a transfer-proof lipstick can give,” said Leela Petrakis, vice president of marketing, Maybelline New York. Petrakis joined the brand at the end of August from L’Oréal Paris, where she helped launch skin care lines such as Men’s Expert.

For eyes, a new mascara, Lash Stylist, has a two-tier, V-shape applicator with rows of fine teeth designed to give lashes a 65 percent lift. Available in both washable and waterproof formulas, Lash Stylist is available in three shades and will sell for a suggested retail of $7.15. Line Stylist, the new eyeliner, is designed to transfer both thin and thick lines. “It delivers a much more impactful look. It really opens up your eyes,” said Petrakis. Lash Stylist is available in eight shades and will sell for $6.95.

In addition to these launches, Maybelline New York will expand on its successful Dream Mousse franchise with Dream Mousse Shadow, in eight colors, and Dream Mousse Bronzer, in two shades. Shadow formulas are lightweight and formulated not to crease “due to flexible polymers that help the mousse blend on skin and appear as a wash of color,” said Petrakis. Dream Mousse Bronzers are designed to give a pearlized, illuminated look and are available in two shades. Shadow will sell for $6.50 and the bronzer will retail for $7.50.

As Maybelline New York presents its aggressive and comprehensive 2006 lineup, retailers must keep in mind the company isn’t alone in delivering a variety of new items to the cosmetics wall next year.

After a relatively quite 2004, Revlon is gearing up to roll out an aggressive spring menu. Its plans to overhaul the ColorStay franchise and the Almay brand, as well as introduce a premium-price line targeting an older consumer, Vital Radiance, according to retailers. For the reintroduction of ColorStay, Revlon reformulated the line with a technology that makes the makeup more comfortable to wear. Revlon has not yet given details of upcoming changes to the Almay brand, but retailers have said Almay will be repositioned to make the brand easier to shop.

There’s also the CoverGirl Queen Collection, a color cosmetics line targeting women of color. The Queen Collection includes foundation, lip color, lip gloss, lip pencil, eye shadow quads, mascara, eyeliner and nail color. Prices range from $3.49 to $6.49 — in line with general-market CoverGirl products. Also under the CoverGirl name is Advanced Radiance Age Defying Liquid Make-Up, positioned to take five years off the face. The new item is the latest in the antiage line, which launched in August with Advanced Radiance Compact Foundation.

Physicians Formula has a double-barreled product pipeline including “dual action” concealers, a concealer palette, and a foundation and powder said to be ideal for sensitive and breakout-prone skin.

Sally Hansen, which launched its cosmetics offering Healing Beauty in 2003, now views the venture as more of a franchise than a stand-alone brand. The company weeded out underperforming items, and all but two retailers, Walgreens and CVS, have collapsed Healing Beauty’s display into Sally Hansen’s primary planogram. Next month, Sally Hansen will begin shipping Maximum Plumping Lip Treatment, a gloss with a hint of color that is said to increase collagen to create fuller-looking lips. And early next year, it will introduce a reformulated Fast and Flawless Airbrush Makeup with SPF 8.

But where is all the new going?

Retailers said there is always some wiggle room for new items.

“There is empty, wasted space in some planograms,” said one drugstore retailer. This is especially the case with the addition of stockkeeping units to Maybelline and CoverGirl.

She added that she’ll expect Maybelline to make some edits on its own since there are “clearly slow movers that can be pruned.” However, the rush of new items coming at all once is making retailers edgy. And in the case of entirely new lines, such as the Cover Girl Queen collection, Revlon’s Vital Radiance and L’Oréal HIP, “hard decisions are going to be made,” said one major mass market chain buyer.

Those put in the vise, retailers said, are fringe vendors and exclusive lines. “The big just keep getting bigger” said one source. Retailers hate to see the pressure put on the small guys, but agreed they have to support megalaunches. At least one retailer is considering eliminating one exclusive makeup line to make room for the new stuff from the big boys.

Whether they are squeezing in new items or reformatting existing offerings, retailers want suppliers to do a better job in getting shoppers excited.

Valerie Cheyney, cosmetic and beauty category manager for Happy Harry’s, said manufacturers need to provide more information on advertising and how products work. Also, she hopes to see more manpower for all of the resetting needed for new launches. “We also need better in-stock positions on new items,” she said.

— also by Molly Prior

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