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June 11, 2008 2:12 AM

Beauty, Retail

Target's Beauty Play

Target's fall initiative of bringing in a fresh crop of unknown premium makeup brands to nearly all their 1,500-plus stores is either one of two things: Genius or doomed. First, the doomed. The plan, which includes adding makeup testers for...

Target's fall initiative of bringing in a fresh crop of unknown premium makeup brands to nearly all their 1,500-plus stores is either one of two things: Genius or doomed.

First, the doomed. The plan, which includes adding makeup testers for the first time, puts pressure on existing makeup brands sold there. With the in-stock struggles Target currently faces, not to mention economic pressures and prestige competition, mass staples like Revlon, L'Oreal Paris, Cover Girl and Maybelline New York could feel the big squeeze on the shelf. What new and innovative marketing--or retailing opportunities, for that matter--will help set the established brands apart from the newbies? Who will get the red carpet treatment this August with testers and lit shelves? How well will bargain hunting consumers take to smaller, new brands they've never heard of before?  Napoleon Perdis, Jemma Kidd and Petra Strand each have very limited distribution in the U.S. And will Target's muscle as a powerful advertiser and marketer be able to connect with the consumer, who's already saturated with beauty messages?

But prestige players in the mass beauty aisle can swing towards genius, too. Testers, for one, may make all the difference in drumming up excitement in the category and in the store. Once a consumer is drawn in, she may not want to purchase an item from a new brand she's not familiar with, but she can compare a similar shade from a big brand and then confidently make a purchase. Marketing the vibrant and lively personalities of the three makeup artists can only drive traffic: Kidd is a former model with looks to kill; Perdis' personality is robust and unstoppable; Strand's style will have women wanting more.

It may only take until Christmas time to know whether the new initiative will hit or miss. Until then, the Indie trio will get its moment in the spotlight.
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