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Drew Barrymore is exercising some serious flower power.
In a Hollywood career spanning more than three decades, Barrymore wasn’t content to stay in front of the camera, but progressed to producing and directing, piling up behind-the-scenes credits under the mantle of her production company Flower Films — and she’s following the same trajectory in the beauty business. After a stint from 2004 to 2005 as a spokeswoman for Lancôme, Barrymore enlarged her role in beauty at Procter & Gamble Co.’s Cover Girl, where she’s been a face and co-creative director since 2007, and is now taking it a step further by launching Flower, a color cosmetics brand she co-owns with design and manufacturing firm Maesa Group that will enter 1,509 Wal-Mart doors in January.
“I think, if you really care about things, then you just naturally get involved. I don’t want to sit there and hope it works out. I want to be in the middle, in the mix, making sure it works out,” said Barrymore. “It is almost an uncontrollable desire to be one of the people who is creating. Maybe it is just a type of personality. I can’t sleep at night. I care.”
Barrymore may have lots of sleepless nights ahead — and they won’t only be due to her two-month-old daughter Olive Kopelman, who has already made a splash in the tabloid world. She and her mother are pictured on the cover of the latest issue of People magazine.
With Flower, Maesa and Barrymore have committed to transforming the landscape of the beauty industry by offering what Scott Oshry, president, partner and board member at Maesa, described as “true luxury at mass. Once we identified this white space, we thought to ourselves, you know what, we should tackle this. We should build the best color cosmetics brand that we can,” he said.
Wal-Mart would be the ideal platform for the Flower concept. Barrymore summed up Flower’s reason for the relationship with the world’s largest beauty retailer in a single sentence: “We want it to be in people’s hands.” Oshry pointed to another: Carmen Bauza, vice president of beauty and personal care at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. He believed she’d understand Flower’s goal to elevate mass beauty aisles. “Knowing what Carmen has been doing at Wal-Mart for so many years, we knew that she’s a rebel. She’s a free thinker,” he said.
Of course, Bauza did understand. She’s made it her mission to address what she said had been “the biggest miss” in Wal-Mart’s assortment: “aspirational, prestige product. Mass has pretty much been doing the same thing over and over again,” she said. Flower could be different. “What a great marriage for all these three businesses to come together and put something out there that’s so accessible and so great for customers. The formulas are absolutely incredible. The packaging is incredible,” said Bauza.
Flower will be housed in four-foot sections and endcaps at Wal-Mart stores exclusively. It will be available online at walmart.com, too. Although Maesa and Wal-Mart wouldn’t divulge the terms of their exclusivity arrangement, both parties said they have a multiyear deal. Industry sources estimate Flower will generate $50 million in first-year retail sales.
Flower will sell 181 stockkeeping units priced from $4.98 to $13.98, including 70 in the face category, 44 in eye, 51 in lip and 16 in nail. The face products contain a proprietary botanical-driven “soft focus complex” to amplify skin’s glow. Maesa emphasized that the formulas are custom-made at the same price as those used in luxury products, meaning the firm spends two to three times what a typical mass beauty marketer does on each product.
If Maesa operated with a standard mass beauty brand business model, Gregory Mager, founder and chief executive officer of the firm — which is financing Flower — said producing the brand would have been impossible. The standard business model is to hire an extensive sales force, but exclusive distribution at Wal-Mart has eliminated the need for it. The standard business model is to shell out millions for ads to raise consumer awareness, but Flower will rely on Barrymore’s popularity, social media, in-store imagery and Wal-Mart’s reach to spread its message.