Every year, the beauty industry’s most innovative players compete to take home the top prize—customers’ dollars. This year was no exception. Here, we celebrate the best and brightest with the fifth annual WWD Beauty Biz awards.
Breakthrough Product of the Year
From bespoke fragrances to Boomer-only brands, highly focused products from companies big
and small helped redefine the beauty landscape.
Prestige Color Cosmetics
Lipstick Queen by Poppy King
Australian lipstick maven Poppy King was playing dress-up in her mother’s closet with bright red lipstick at the age of seven. In a way, she hasn’t changed all that much. She is still absolutely passionate about lipstick. “I tried talking myself out of making a serious career out of lipstick, but every time I deviated away from anything to do with lipstick, it just didn’t feel right,” said King, who first launched an eponymous line in 1992. With hopes of bringing lipstick back into the spotlight, this year King introduced Lipstick Queen, a line of 10 shades in two textures—the matte Sinner and the sheerer Saint. King’s passion grows out of a feeling that lipstick is misunderstood. “People feel that it’s old-fashioned when indeed it’s anything but,” said King, who drove home her point with the midyear introduction of Oxymoron, a matte lip gloss available in four shades. —Michelle Edgar
Robin Coe-Hutshing and her sister, Jennifer Coe-Bakewell, have come a long way since their days as self-described hippie chicks mixing fragrances in the back of their store. The proprietresses of the influential indie boutique Studio at Fred Segal, the sisters proved themselves to be equally as skilled at product development this year with the launch of Memoire Liquide. The bespoke fragrance collection features 160 unique scents that can be mixed and matched as the customer desires. While the custom-designed decanters, etched black and gold labels and in-depth, individual descriptions for each of the 160 accords suggest haute couture price tags, the reality is quite different. The entry price point is $45 for a 0.5-oz. pure perfume roll-on, meaning the California sisters not only tapped into the prevailing trend for personalized fragrances, but, true to their hippie roots, did it in a feel-good way, too.
—Jenny B. Fine
Prestige Skin Care
Care by Stella McCartney
Designer queen of green Stella McCartney made eco clothing chic, proving that luxury could cohabitate comfortably with being socially conscious. The designer, who eschews meat and leather, opted for the same route with her entry into skin care. Called Care and created by McCartney’s licensee YSL Beauté, the line marked the first time a luxury fashion label launched an organic skin care range. But don’t think of it as just a fad. “We’ve been in development for three years; we’re not jumping on a trend,” said McCartney, who grew up on an organic farm and is a longtime campaigner for animal rights. “I’m doing this for genuine reasons.” The nine-item line, which was launched last spring exclusively at Sephora, is priced from $35 to $80. The products focus on preventing the signs of aging, rather than repairing them. And though prices may not be entirely down to earth (it is a luxury line, after all), the ethos is: All items in Care, which carries the French Ecocert organic certification label, forgo the use of animal testing, endangered plant species, petrochemicals, silicones, chemical preservatives and animal-derived ingredients. —Matthew W. Evans
With its new men’s hair care brand, launched in July, Aveda believes that it has identified an opportunity that could triple the amount of men using its hair care products and services, said brand president Dominique Conseil. The idea: a line that addresses the physiological differences between men’s and women’s bodies. For example, men’s scalps are thicker than women’s and produce twice as much oil, according to the company. Seven products, ranging in price from $18 to $25, were produced to tackle such concerns. All are scented with a citrus, spearmint, lavender and vetiver aroma designed to work in tandem with the products’ phyto-active blend. As well, Aveda worked with clinical aromaologist Pierre Franchomme to create botanical blends that also offer active ingredient benefits. Among the ingredients used: boswellia, licorice root, sage extract and plai and tamanu oils, all of which are sustainably sourced. And the rewards for Aveda’s labors are expected to be considerable. Said Heidi Norman, executive director of marketing, styling and men’s products: “We believe men’s products and services could grow to a $230 million opportunity
for Aveda.” —Julie Naughton
Mass Skin Care
Dove gets a kick out of raising eyebrows. Fortunately for the $1 billion-plus Unilever brand, sales have been rising, too. Dove’s latest effort to elicit double-takes: A collection of personal care products called Pro-Age. Created for women 50 and older, Pro-Age (as opposed to antiaging) has increased brand sales by about $24 million in the food, drug and mass channels, excluding Wal-Mart, from its February launch through Oct. 7, according to Information Resources Inc. In true Dove fashion, the ads were arresting, featuring real fiftysomething women Dove discovered around the country—in some cases baring all. The line, which trumpets the idea that beauty has no age limit, includes products from every category that Dove competes in, namely skin, body and hair care and deodorant. Ingredients—including glycerin for suppleness and olive oil for nourishment—are intended to help skin retain moisture and optimize cell turnover. Pro-Age had a broad rollout, nabbing prominent displays in both Wal-Mart and Target. —Molly Prior
Mustang by Aramis and Designer Fragrances
For most companies, revving up their fragrance business is just an expression. For the Aramis and Designer Fragrances division of the Estée Lauder Cos., which signed a licensing agreement with the Ford Motor Co. in May to produce a Mustang-themed fragrance, it’s a reality. The fragrance marked a return to the mass market by the Estée Lauder Cos., which had been absent from that market segment since selling Jane Cosmetics in February 2004. Mustang was first launched in Sears, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s Department Stores in July. In August, it rolled out to mass merchandisers and chain drugstores, including Wal-Mart, CVS and Target, for a total of about 22,000 doors in the U.S. In addition to traditional fragrance promotion vehicles, Mustang has also been promoted at NASCAR events and in Ford World Magazine, which is distributed to the company’s 250,000 employees, said John Nens, director of global brand licensing for the Ford Motor Company. “This fragrance is an extension of our brand, and one that we think has great potential,” said Nens, adding that the Mustang name is also licensed for shirts, hats, toys, video games and jewelry. “Even if you can’t drive the car, you can still live the brand. —J.N.
Mass Color Cosmetics
Jillian Dempsey for Avon
Talk about an inspired pair. This year Avon teamed up with celebrity makeup artist Jillian Dempsey to help breathe new life into its $1 billion-plus color category. Dempsey, who founded the makeup line Delux, came aboard as Avon’s global creative color director. As part of the deal, Dempsey, who besides making up some of the hottest names in Hollywood also happens to be married to TV heartthrob Patrick Dempsey, was charged with reinvigorating and modernizing Avon’s core color collection, as well as working on product development for its younger sister line, Mark. Her imprint on the company was heralded with the February launch of a limited edition spring color collection and her debut in Avon’s global brochures. The mostly sheer line was encased in Avon’s new packaging initiative—black cases and metallic silver accents—replacing the original blue color scheme. The centerpiece of the collection was a multihued face palette that featured bright colors in a modern floral design. That was followed up in the fall with a collaboration among Avon, Dempsey and designer Cynthia Rowley. As a result of the line’s revamp and Dempsey’s input, Avon said it now ranks number three globally in color sales. —Megan McIntyre
Clairol Nice ’n Easy Hair Color Collection
Procter & Gamble’s mass hair color business continues to innovate, most notably within the Clairol Nice ’n Easy franchise. This year Nice ’n Easy brought several innovations to mass shelves, the first being a new technology so women coloring their hair at home can achieve three tones in one shade. The Color Blend technology, as it is called, was inspired by salon colorists who often mix a variety of tones to get a desired color. Since the introduction, Nice ’n Easy executives say the brand has experienced 8 percent increases in food stores and drugstores, and double-digit growth at Wal-Mart, its largest customer. Also this year was the launch of Nice ’n Easy ColorSeal Conditioning Gloss as a stand-alone product. The gloss, which is an intense weekly conditioning treatment specially designed for color-treated hair, is the most sought-after product on the company’s 1-800 Clairol Hotline, says the company, and was previously only available as part of a Nice ’n Easy hair color kit. —Andrea Nagel