FACING THE FACTS

When Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets opened its first New Jersey store last year, brightly colored nail polishes were featured in promotional areas.Now, those same areas hold Procter & Gamble's CG Smoothers, a new facial product.Women may still be polishing their nails, but nail color is no longer the engine driving beauty sales. Statistics from Information Resources, Inc. of Chicago paint

When Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets opened its first New Jersey store last year, brightly colored nail polishes were featured in promotional areas.

Now, those same areas hold Procter & Gamble's CG Smoothers, a new facial product.

Women may still be polishing their nails, but nail color is no longer the engine driving beauty sales. Statistics from Information Resources, Inc. of Chicago paint the picture. Nail polish and treatment sales are down 8.5 % to $427.4 million for the period ended April 23, 2000. Facial makeup, especially tinted moisturizers that do double duty as skin care and foundations, are where more retailers are putting their buying dollars.

Facial makeup soared 16.1% to $1.1 billion. Close behind is a new emphasis on eyes. Eye makeup is up 9% to $897 million. Lipstick is showing strength with 6.6% growth to $781.3 million. Some experts think lips will be the next part of the face to receive a sales lift -- especially as prestige items such as Estee Lauder's Pout lipstick gather steam. Retailers are facing the facts -- the face is where it is at. Fred Meyer in Portland, Ore., is facing up to that reality with a new display of its private label called FM Essentials. The brand was originally sold primarily in apparel because of the link between color nail polish and clothing. Now, to gather more facial beauty sales, there is a two-foot set being implemented in cosmetics.

Some supermarket retailers never thought they could successfully sell facial products. "Nail color is easy," explained a buyer from a New York-based supermarket chain. "You put them out in a prepack and shoppers make their own decisions. You don't need service. We always feared foundations needed tremendous space and a consultant. That's not true anymore."

Several factors are leading to greater facial cosmetics sales at supermarkets, both buyers and manufacturers said. One is a more sophisticated consumer. "Shoppers have been trained at department stores and in advertising. Now they can make their own decisions," said Allan Mottus, publisher of The Informationist and a beauty business consultant.

Another trend has been the availability of salable samples. These tiny trial sizes offer consumers just enough product to feel comfortable to come back and buy a full-size. The salable samples are in food stores including Kroger, H-E-B and Dominick's. Marketers offering them include Revlon, Physicians Formula (Azusa, Calif.) and Procter & Gamble.

"Our new 'try a little, buy a little' salable samples, called Tiny Trys, have only been widely available to mass consumers since April," said Anne Martin, global marketing manager for Procter & Gamble in Hunt Valley, Md.

Sample sizes are so important to P&G that the company has programmed an area into its new fixtures just for salable samples.

Revlon, New York, is also incorporating more trial sizes into its new fixture called Max. Cheryl Vitali, executive vice president and general manager of Revlon brand globally believes it is paramount to building more color sales.

Grocery marketers said the trial sizes are great for the food channel since they carry prices under $2 and build confidence in supermarket beauty departments.

A third factor spurring growth of facial cosmetics is the push by beauty marketers to expand beyond their traditional specialties. Conventional wisdom has been that Maybelline dominated mascara, P&G foundation and Revlon color. Now all of the major beauty brands are trying to up their share of other facial areas. P&G, for example, has a new lip initiative called Lipfinity for Max Factor. Maybelline, New York, is pushing into face with a new Non-Stop all-day-wear foundation and into lip with a long-wearing lip color called Wear 'n Go.

The tinted moisturizer craze is also expected to continue to drive sales, experts said. The contenders include Neutrogena's Moisture SPF 15 Sheer Tint -- one of the first to bow back in 1988. It has been joined by a bevy of new offerings including Oil of Olay Cosmetics and Cover Girl CG Smoothers. The success of the tinted moisturizers is said to be linked to the fact they can be worn under makeup or alone for a sheer look.

Said P&G's Martin, "With increasing demands on their lives, women want to simplify their beauty regimen with few products that do more. For Olay Cosmetics, the introduction of a tinted moisturizer offers women an alternative to traditional foundations for days when they want sheer coverage." In the past year, foundation sales have skyrocketed up 19% to $600 million, states IRI.