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Beauty Roundup: December 11, 2009

What makes one brand, one retailer or one marketer stand out from the competition?

Why They Won

Women’s Wear Daily’s Beauty Biz held its annual awards breakfast Dec. 10 at the Four Seasons. As always, the event was swift, but powerful and acknowledged innovation in the beauty business. What makes one brand, one retailer or one marketer stand out from the competition? Here’s thinking — and opinions — about what made a handful this year’s winners deserve the kudos.

Olay Professional Pro-X: When retailers first saw the price point on Pro-X they gasped (the starter kit exceeds $60). They quickly changed their tune when Olay became the first true mass market skin care line to crack price barriers in the mass market. The success came from educational advertising and products that have high efficacy. When talking about hits of the last year, Pro-X is one of the first most buyers mention. The item won because Pro-X revolutionized mass skin care and has opened the door for chains to sell more premium items.

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Faith Hill and Tim McGraw: Not much happens as far as celebrity launches in mass. Most drug and discount store chains must wait for the famous “second tier” distribution process. That wasn’t the case with Coty’s launches behind this famous duo. Retailers were flattered to have first dibs on the line and responded with good positioning that paid off big time and is currently bringing in a nice fragrance bounce for the holiday.

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Axe Advertising Campaign: Walk into any high school locker room and Axe is a staple — even for many girls who are athletic and like the stronger scent. To avoid complacency and lose shoppers to new and competitive products, Axe brought out a campaign that proved it is still the innovator in the market.

Hard Candy:
The walls and walls of pegged cosmetics can be boring. But Wal-Mart and Nu-World cosmetics knew that need not be the case. An old indie brand was reborn in the mass world and it is already moving well, according to company officials. While many once-premium-only apparel brands have converted to exclusives as mass merchants, beauty has been slower to do so. The success of Hard Candy could change all that.

Duane Reade: One need only ride up the escalator to the second floor of the new Duane Reade to see why this chain won out against huge competitors. Duane Reade is proving it isn’t afraid to add expensive brands and service to make its stores more than ho-hum.

The breakfast always lures the elite of the business and attendees were thrilled to see William Lauder, Petra Strand and Nicholas Perricone among many others. For a variety of reasons, there were some winners who were missing — but if they are innovative again, maybe they’ll attend in 2010.

And being innovative is more important than ever. Wendy Liebmann, ceo of WSL Strategic Retail, challenged the group to be more innovative for survival in the years to come. The race is officially on for next year’s BeautyBiz winners.

People, Place and Things:

A few words with Wendy Liebmann, ceo and chief shopper of WSL Strategic Retail. Liebmann was the featured speaker at the event and provided an encompassing view of the beauty business.

Liebmann: All of the innovation right now is at the retail level such as Bloomingdales and Duane Reade. It is time for all of you in the room who are being awarded as innovators to be more innovative.

What you have to remember is that consumer habits have changed. Eighty percent of female beauty consumers say they will continue to buy only products that they need, while only 15 percent will go back to spending freely. You have to make them want what you sell.

What’s In Store:

Hot For Christmas: On retailers’ nice list so far are Santa Baby from Wet ‘n’ Wild, Sexy Curves from Rimmel, McGraw by Tim McGraw, Snuggies and pedicure kits.

Chong Bang Leaves Walgreens: Chong Bang, who helped Walgreens establish its new Customer Centric Retailing Initiative, will depart the chain for a position at Shoppers Drug Mart, effective Dec. 18.