Full speed ahead: Retailers find color cosmetics, skin care and bubble bath alluring

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Full speed ahead: Retailers find color cosmetics, skin care and bubble bath alluring

Mass market doors might not be the prime destination for all beauty products, but there are market wedges the channel dominates. An example is color cosmetics, where brows and lashes are leading the charge to attract shoppers. Bath sales are also bubbling again as drug stores wrest customers away from mall-based specialty stores, while also nabbing licensed hits that score big with parents. IRI tracked double-digit increases in the category over the past year.

Drug and discount stores also have managed to lure customers away from specialty and department stores to their doors for skin care. Cleansers and moisturizers in particular posted major gains, while specialty and department stores were held to low single-digit increases. Retailers credit better technology now flowing into the mass skin care business, including more better-for-you options.

And the future in all three of these market segments looks promising.

Eye on cosmetics
Retailers said it is full speed ahead for the second half of 2017 in color cosmetics. Brow volume is expected to continue to arch upward with innovations — such as Maybelline Brow Drama, L’Oréal Brow Stylist Definer Eye Brow Makeup, e.l.f. Eye Brow Makeup, Rimmel Brow This Way and NYX Micro Eye Brow Makeup — setting blistering gains often hitting triple digits. CVS also reports strong interest in Wunderbrow, which was added to the assortment late last year.

The attention to eyes has a halo effect on overall cosmetics, retailers said, encouraging them to add more brands.

Walgreens is not only expanding its elevation project to 1,000 more doors, but also installing NYX, one of the most buzzed about brands in beauty today. The L’Oréal-owned professional makeup is shipping 663 SKUs to 2,000 Walgreens’ doors in the United States and Puerto Rico, to be completed by this fall, and also is launching on Walgreens.com with 640 SKUs.

“The addition of NYX products to our cosmetics selection is a key component in our multiyear, multiphase initiative to elevate the beauty experience at Walgreens,” said Lauren Brindley, group VP and general merchandise manager of Walgreens. “NYX will be one of several lines getting testers at the chain.”

Growing at breakneck speed is Milani, now sold at CVS, Target and Walgreens. Retailers singled out the Moisture Lock Lip Treatment as a fast seller, a fact confirmed by IRI data, which showed the product growing 276% for the 52-week period ended March 19, across multi-outlets.

Walmart is putting muscle behind color cosmetics, too. In addition to being first out of the gate with many big brand launches, the companies’ own brands are hitting their stride. Hard Candy continues to attract value-oriented and on-trend shoppers. Flower by Drew Barrymore is performing up to its true potential, according to Maesa’s CEO and founder Gregory Mager. Launched in 2013, Maesa and Walmart have worked diligently to fine tune the line. Also this year, Walmart turned to Maesa to launch P2 nail polish, available in 22 colors and priced at $2.97.

Target is adding not only a popular color choice, but also one with better-for-you properties to boot. The chain recently added Honest Beauty to its existing collection of products from Jessica Alba’s The Honest Co. The lineup includes 30 products — and 17 additional products, including shade extensions, on Target.com — ranging from facial cleansers to crème blushes mostly priced under $35. Up until now, Honest Beauty, introduced in 2015, was sold online and at Ulta Beauty in the United States.

And Ulta Beauty scored perhaps the biggest coup with its deal to add MAC Cosmetics to about 25 stores in June, following a launch on Ulta.com. By the end of the year, MAC should be in more than 100 Ulta Beauty doors. Estée Lauder views distribution in Ulta Beauty as the chance to expose MAC to shoppers who haven’t previously had access to it before. Ulta Beauty’s Dave Kimbell, chief marketing and merchandising officer, said MAC is one of the most requested brands by the retailers’ customers.

Skin care in the game
While color clicks along, skin care is undergoing a major metamorphosis in mass doors. Consumers demand better-for-you formulas, prompting chains to require brands to put ingredients under the microscope.

Small and nimble brands — many created with natural positioning — are seen as ahead of the game. But the big brands are working overtime and will face the challenge of convincing consumers that their products are truly more natural. Retailers will be busy moving around items to integrate natural into the conventional merchandising set. The general consensus, according to Mark Tritton, EVP and CMO at Target, is that it’s best to merchandise in one area so customers can make their own decisions rather than have to dart between natural and general market.

Retailers are serious about what’s on their shelves. CVS announced it would remove chemicals, such as parabens and phthalates, from its private-label beauty and personal care products by 2019. The move impacts more than 600 items and is one of several health-oriented moves the chain is making. Earlier this year as Target broadened its better-for-you beauty assortment, the retailer promised that by 2020 it will ban phthalates, propylparaben, butylparaben, formaldehyde, formaldehyde donors and nonylphenol ethoxylates from beauty, personal care, baby care and household product formulations.

One hundred percent natural in beauty isn’t a mandate. Rather, according to Lyle Tick, managing director of Boots Retail USA, the goal is to be as transparent as possible with ingredients. That was a goal when Boots recently rebooted its Botanics line, which Tick said was simplified to make it easier to shop.

Natural positioning has been the hallmark of several brands that have generated positive sales growth in the mass market, such as Skinfix, Sundial and Yes To Inc. Ingrid Jackel, the CEO of Yes To thinks there is a fertile opportunity with more than 50 million shoppers ready to take the more natural plunge. She said her reinvigorated brand, bursting with new innovation, is bringing in customers new to the natural market.

Skinfix also has the enviable position of being the first dermatologist-recommended, clinically proven brand that also counts itself as natural. The brand’s positioning as a derm-supported and natural collection has earned it shelf space in CVS, Target, Shoppers Drug Mart and Ulta Beauty.


No kidding around
Like other segments, natural is becoming more critical in the bath category. For example, Éclair Naturals recently embarked on a major digital campaign to tout its positioning. As one part of the initiative, women are asked if they know what propylene glycol is and if they would feel comfortable bathing in it. Their answer is a resounding “no” once they hear it is a component in engine antifreeze, and that many bath and body products use it. That’s part of a campaign, called “Never Any,” kicked off by the company.

According to Éclair Naturals’ co-founder and CEO John Matise, Europe banned 1,400 chemicals, Canada nearly 600 and the United States only 10 in the last decade. To help inform consumers about Éclair Naturals’ positioning, the company tapped a celebrity makeup artist, Joanne Gair, to adorn models with messages applied in plant-based ink. The messa-ges on their bodies pledge the formulas never use GMOs, parabens, soy, animal-derived ingredients, polyethylene glycol, petroleum, phenoxyethanol, phthalates, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, synthetic colors and synthetic fragrances.

The “no harsh ingredients” movement also helped Village Naturals, Sundial, Burt’s Bees, Kneipp and Dr. Teal’s. The latter has posted meteoric gains as consumers flock to the therapeutic powers of Epsom salts.