Retailer of the Year
In a year fraught with consolidation and acquisition, these retailers proved that great service and a killer selection keep the crowds coming.
Bloomingdale’s has always had a sparkling assortment of beauty brands—this year, the retailer showcased them in ways that really made them glitter. First was a complete overhaul of the massive beauty floor at its 59th Street Manhattan flagship, including stores-in-store for a number of brands and the launch of cheeky projects like Juicy Crittoure, a beauty and grooming line for dogs being produced under the Juicy Couture moniker. For longtime partner Lancôme, a 1,000-square-foot space was carved out in a prime center position, adding more than 200 square feet to its selling area; Estée Lauder scored more than 900 square feet for its sleek, modern installation (said to be inspired by the late founder’s dressing table) with blue suede upholstered chairs for consultations. Philosophy’s first store-in-store was installed at 59th Street, followed by similar spaces for La Mer, SK-II and Benefit. And the updates aren’t limited to Manhattan—Bloomingdale’s, which expanded aggressively this year with openings in San Francisco, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., and Chevy Chase, Md., is rolling out its stylish new look across the country. —J.N.
If ever there was a haven for artisanal, niche and start-up beauty brands, it’s Henri Bendel. From the store’s semiannual beauty breakfasts, where budding brands are introduced to the media, to hard-to-find items spotlighted front and center, Bendel’s has shown a penchant for cultivating new brands. This year, fragrance took center stage, with the retailer launching up-and-coming indies like Etat Libre D’Orange, Juliette Has a Gun and Memoire Liquide. “There are some very interesting independent perfumers out there creating products with a more sophisticated and special feel,” Claudia Lucas, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of beauty at Bendel’s, said earlier this year. In the last several years, since arriving at Bendel’s from Selfridge’s in the U.K., Lucas has refashioned the store’s first floor beauty department, installed a L’Artisan Parfumeur in-store boutique on the second floor and helped oversee the conversion of Bendel’s fourth floor into a Frédéric Fekkai salon. She even managed to coax Francois Nars into making his first public appearance in years this spring, transforming Bendel’s ground floor into an art gallery to exhibit the makeup maestro’s photographs. “Consumers are yearning for something that feels real,” Lucas said, and this year, that’s what she and Bendel’s gave them. —M.W.E.
Drugstores by design are pharmacies first, impulse shopping havens second. CVS Pharmacy, however, has elevated beauty to a key growth driver of its overall business and heralded that strategic position with a full-fledged marketing campaign called Reinventing Beauty. In May, the retailer ushered in the ongoing effort by dressing its 6,200 stores in bold teal signs hanging from the ceiling and protruding from shelves, followed up by an extensive direct mail and newspaper ad campaign. The move comes after a four-year effort to revamp CVS’s beauty shopping experience. Since 2003, CVS has injected a dose of European cachet into its chain by bringing in exclusive brands like the Finnish-based Lumene, added proprietary lines such as Skin Effects by Dr. Jeffrey Dover and, by yearend, will have almost 1,000 beauty consultants in 600 stores. The focus on beauty is paying off. Last year, notes Cheryl Mahoney, vice president of merchandising, beauty care, CVS’s beauty business grew two times faster than the industry average, and cosmetics sales gained three times faster. —M.P.
Best Executed Launch Strategy of the Year
From product development to public relations, when it came to executing all aspects of a launch strategy flawlessly, these marketers reached new heights.
Prestige Color Cosmetics
MAC Loves Barbie
What little girl doesn’t love Barbie? Well, little girls become big girls and it seems that their love doesn’t wane, a fact that MAC Cosmetics and Mattel illustrated with MAC Loves Barbie, a full-scale makeup collection for adult women. The Pop Art-hued lineup included 27 stockkeeping units ranging in price from $10 for a bright pink nail polish to $45 for a makeup brush. Each was packaged in MAC’s signature black, with a stylized pink outline of a ponytailed Barbie. Barbie’s image was also debossed onto eye shadows and blushes. Selected MAC stores were outfitted as mini Barbie boudoirs, and MAC’s makeup artists wore T-shirts designed for the collection in-store. Collateral items, such as hair bows, were also sold at counter. MAC and Mattel even created a makeup artist Barbie, complete with her own mini makeup case. Nearly all of the coveted dolls sold out in less than a month. (At last count, the $35 doll was selling for over $100 on eBay.) The line’s success came as no surprise to Richard Dickson, senior vice president of marketing, media and entertainment, worldwide, for Mattel, who thinks makeup is a natural place for Barbie. “The core Barbie brand is broadly distributed in many different ways, including entertainment, apparel, publishing and room decor,” he said. “It’s the largest lifestyle brand for women.” —J.N.
Giorgio Armani Parfums
With designer fragrances inundating the market, Giorgio Armani Parfums has not only managed to stay on top of the men’s market, this year it boasted three fragrances in the top 10. Attitude, which was launched in May in 3,000 department store doors, looks set to becomes yet another blockbuster, joining brother scents Acqua di Giò for men (number one) and Armani Code for men (number two). L’Oréal, Armani’s licensee, has succeeded by developing new fragrances with different strategies and platforms, differentiating the scents in everything from the olfactive composition to the brand’s message, while still backing up existing fragrances with large advertising campaigns and spending to avoid cannibalization. While Acqua di Giò is a fresh aromatic fragrance and Armani Code a spicy seductive one, Attitude is a woody oriental, designed to appeal to a man’s more sensual and masculine side. Said Ava Huang, vice president of marketing, “This brand differentiation has proven successful, given that we have been able to recruit new users, as well as create wardrobing opportunities across our brands, making them successful both as individual scents and as an overall collection.” —M.E.
Prestige Skin Care
Lancome Primordiale Cell Defense Double Performance Cell Defense & Skin Perfecting Serum
The two key trends that drove skin care sales this year—high-tech and eco-friendly—are seemingly at odds with each other. But Lancôme was able to combine the two for a winning strategy with Primordial Cell Defense & Skin Perfecting Serum. Lancôme covered the high-tech side with its new ingredient pro-xylane, which it calls the first ever “green” molecule to be developed in its labs. Cell Defense claims to block 99 percent of the free radicals caused by UV exposure, pollution and temperature extremes. To launch the product, Lancôme teamed up with Carbonfund.org, pledging to reduce its carbon footprint with a tree planting campaign in which a tree was planted for each of the first 10,000 bottles sold, by implementing a paper-free press office and by offsetting the travel of its five spokesmodels, including Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann, Daria Werbowy, Shalom Harlow and Selena Breed—all of whom showed up at the press launch in February. The brand followed up with an April Earth Day initiative, with a video starring its spokesmodels and a special T-shirt designed by trendy denim label Rag & Bone. Said Harlow, “It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you think about global warming. Something like this makes you realize every individual can make a difference.” —J.B.F.
Mass Color Cosmetics
Minerals now abound in the mass market, but when Physicians Formula introduced its Mineral Wear Talc-Free face powder in spring 2005 it laid the first bricks of the trend in the channel. Soon after its launch, it was clear Mineral Wear was a hit. This year, the firm gave the mineral concept a giant push forward by introducing talc-free eye shadow, eyeliner and blush, a move that built its mineral line into a collection of 80 stockkeeping units. More Mineral Wear extensions are planned for next year, including a spin-off line called Organic Wear—billed as eco-friendly organic cosmetics. As the firm’s chief executive officer Ingrid Jackel recalled earlier this year, “We had such tremendous success with our Mineral Wear franchise that we focused all our energy on that priority. I think we made the right choice, because it’s become a very strong franchise.” This summer, the company—which began trading on the Nasdaq in November 2006—developed a 30-minute infomercial to herald its Mineral Wear line, creating an introductory kit of four products for $39.90 along with a $5-off coupon redeemable at retail. “We think of it as a tool to drive retail sales,” said Jackel, referring to the infomercial, and it did. —M.P.
Mass Hair Care
Showing up late to a presentation with Target’s hair care buyer left the Organix team with just three and a half minutes to tell their story. Luckily, the buyer saw the brand’s potential, and earlier this year placed the sulfate- and paraben-free hair care range in half of all Target doors. That’s not the way it usually goes in mass hair care, but for the fledgling brand owned by Vogue International of Clearwater, Fla., it was just the tip of the iceberg. Shortly after the Target meeting, Safeway, Albertson’s and Kroger took in Organix, too, bringing total distribution to 10,000 doors. By midyear, the brand’s sales took off, prompting the company to dive deeply into a print ad campaign in major beauty magazines, including Vogue, as well as a billboard in Times Square. The brand looks to end 2007 with $12 million in retail sales. In 2008, Organix will be sold in 30,000 doors and early estimates are that it will become a $50 million brand. Vogue International, a 20-year-old company and maker of the styling brand FX Special Effects, looks to double overall company sales by year-end 2008, thanks in large part to Organix. —A.N.
Mass Skin Care
Entering the most competitive category in mass beauty, Maybelline-Garnier needed to position its new skin care line very differently from category leaders Olay and Neutrogena. With the launch of Nutritioniste earlier this year, it did just that. Nutritioniste was marketed as a line that combined the sciences of nutrition and dermatology. The new platform was aimed at a consumer psychographic, one interested in wellness, as opposed to a specific demographic. Garnier spent an estimated $70 million on advertising, tapping brand spokesperson Sarah Jessica Parker to be part of the effort. In-store, to help consumers navigate Nutritioniste’s 15 items, packaging copy explains how to use the products, as well as which other items could help achieve advanced results. To reinforce its high tech-meets-nature ethos, Nutritioniste boxes are black, green and white, while floor stand displays feature a photo of Ellie Krieger, the nutritionist who served as a consultant on the line, as well as educational brochures. —A.N.