In tough times, natural cosmetics show strength at mass merchants

There’s no doubt that 2007 was the year of mineral makeup, but a continued focus on those beauty products touting natural or organic ingredients—coupled with the struggling economy—likely mean favorable opportunities remain for mass-market cosmetics.

That is not to say, however, that challenges do not exist.

“Retail sales of color cosmetics in the United States are forecast to decline by 4 percent between 2007 and 2012 [not accounting for inflation] to a total of $8.2 billion,” stated research firm Euromonitor International in its most recent U.S. Color Cosmetics report. “Also, similarly to other cosmetics and toiletries, the impact of product innovation is rather wearing off, and dramatically new products are not likely in the coming years.”

The good news is that consumers continue to express an interest in those products that tout natural or organic ingredients. This trend, combined with the economic crunch, could sway more beauty shoppers to skip high-end prestige brands for cheaper alternatives found in the mass market.

One such company that has experienced such a shift in shopping behavior already is Bare Escentuals, a pioneer in mineral-based cosmetics. In the second quarter, Bare Escentuals posted revenue 7 percent below SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst William Chappell’s expectations and lowered its revenue guidance for 2008.

“The overall business is seeing pressure from the weak macro environment. Not only are Bare customers choosing lower-priced kits and open- box products, the company also is seeing less success in attracting new customers who typically shop at the mass channel,” Chappell stated in a recent research note. “This second issue has been exacerbated by the high number of lower-priced products that have hit mass shelves in the past six months.”

Indeed, a number of products have—and continue to—hit the mass market, albeit perhaps not at the feverish pace seen in 2007.

For example, MODE Cosmetics has introduced for fall three new all-natural Angel Dust colors: galactic, pixie and twilight. The all-natural loose mineral mica pearlescents and natural pure pigments promise to bring multifaceted color to eyes and face. The product is packaged in a recyclable bottle and applied via a smooth roller ball applicator.

Looking to resonate with those environmentally conscious beauty mavens, Neutrogena recently featured several of its cosmetics products during Fashion Week’s Be EcoChic runway show in early September in New York. Celebrity makeup artist Matin Maulawizada debuted his “eco-inspired look” with such new products as Neutrogena Cosmetics nourishing eye liner, nourishing eye quad and MoistureShine lipstick.

At a CVS store in Manhattan, several of Revlon’s new 2008 products, including the new ColorStay mineral lip glaze, were merchandised on a standalone display situated right by the main entrance. This same display also highlighted Maybelline New York’s new Mineral Power line and the Organic Wear collection from Physicians Formula.

As previously reported in the Sept. 22 issue of Drug Store News, Sally Hansen, now owned by Coty Inc., recently wrapped up at a Duane Reade store in Manhattan a nationwide tour promoting the Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Inspired by Carmindy collection. Carmindy is a makeup artist and author who is known for her tips and tricks on TLC’s hit show “What Not to Wear.”

The paraben-free products are formulated with minerals, natural extracts and active botanicals like soy, bamboo, papaya and mango.

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