Natural look sparks treatment sales, poses problem for polish in nail care

Natural look sparks treatment sales, poses problem for polish in nail care

Antoinette Alexander

Today, increasingly more women are tossing their flat irons into the drawer and going for a softer, naturally wavy look–a trend that is trickling down to nails, as well, as natural, healthy-looking nails continue to drive the business.

While this fashion trend is good news for players in the nail treatment category, it does pose difficulties for other segments, such as nail polish, sales of which have suffered in recent years, owing in part to a lack of excitement in the category–with the exception of some shining stars like Sally Hansen s Chrome Nail Makeup.

Sally Hansen is hoping to brighten the polish segment once again with its next generation of crystal color it’s calling Magical Nail Makeup, which uses micro-fine crystals to deliver an unexpected combination of colors. The limited-edition collection will be available through the holidays with a suggested retail price of $5.95.

Meanwhile, the nail treatment arena continues to experience the greatest growth, as more consumers indulge in at-home spa treatments, including manicures and pedicures. According to ACNielsen, sales in the treatment category rose 7.4 percent to $15.9 million for the 13 weeks ended June 12.

Hoping to tap into the craze is Markwins International, which repositioned the Jonel brand after acquiring it from AM Cosmetics more than a year ago. By February, Markwins had begun shipping the revamped Jonel line to retail, but the company is looking to hit the market full force in 2005 and will add a new cuticle therapy, called Revitalize It!, to its Salon Collection nail treatment line, which currently includes a base coat, top coat, cuticle oil and nail strengthener, noted Jonel brand manager Jessica Renninger. The new coconut and lime-scented moisturizing formula is designed to revitalize cuticles using such ingredients as jojoba oil, aloe vera, apricot oil and vitamins A and E. Revitalize It! is packaged in a lip gloss-like wand for easy application and will retail for a suggested price off $2.99.

Meanwhile, Sally Hansen continues to see success from its nailgrowth miracle nail strengthener, which uses soy protein to bind moisture to nails and promises 30 percent longer nails in five days.

Several key players in the artificial nail segment have taken notice of the trend toward natural-looking nails and have developed new products to address that trend in hopes of revitalizing the lackluster category.

Nailene earlier this year launched its Natural Length artificial nails, which are shorter nails for easy, everyday wear. In 2005, shorter nails will continue to be hot, but the company also will introduce new technology designed to provide a better fit for customers with hard-to-fit nails, said Joel Carden, senior vice president of sales and category management for Pacific World. The company currently offers its Nailene Perfect Fit nails, which includes nails for both flat and high-arched nail beds.

In February, Kiss clipped its artificial nails and launched Real Life nails under its Broadway brand. Those nails, which have been available only in the French Manicure design, are for women who like the look of natural, perfectly uniform nails, but don’t want the longer length. Bringing some much-needed innovation to the category, Real Life nails have an application tab on the end of the nail that serves as a handle of sorts for easy, non-messy application. The suggested retail price is $5.49.

“It is probably our most successful new product launch in the last four years, just from volume and consumer response,” said Grace Tallon, Kiss’ vice president of marketing.

Next month, Kiss will add solid color versions of Real Life nails, which are painted only on the top surface to give nails a more natural, and-painted look. Real Life Hand Painted Nail Kits will retail for $3.99.

However, with these new product launches could come even greater confusion for the consumer in a category already wrestling with that challenge, according to beauty consultant Suzanne Grayson. To boost sales, Grayson strongly suggests that drug stores make the nail care wall easier to shop and find ways to educate shoppers on the different products.

“lf drug stores are really looking to differentiate themselves, using nail care as a wedge to make it a destination store is a superior way of going,” said Grayson, who also serves as president of Grayson Associates.

Nail care sales in drug stores

% change

Category $ sales * vs. year ago

Nail treatments $15.9 7.4%

Nail polish 46.5 -3.8

False nail/nail decoration 18.3 -5.5

Nail grooming accessories 41.4 1.7

Source: ACNielsen data for the 13 weeks ended June 12

* Sales in millions

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