CORONADO, Calif. -- Sassaby Cosmetics has made point-of-purchase displays the central communications medium for its two-year-old Jane Cosmetics brand.
The strategy has helped build the value-priced Jane brand from scratch into a competitive player in the category, now sold in some 7,000 mass merchandiser and chain drug stores, said Donald Pettit, president of Baltimore-based Sassaby.
"We viewed P O P as a strategic tool," said Pettit in a presentation here at the Point-Of-Purchase Advertising Institute 1996 Industry Conference, which was held in March.
"It is more than a display platform," he said. "For us it is a key advertising vehicle. It is a medium to establish our image and information better than any of our competitors. It is a key avenue to communicate quality and value."
Pettit said the decision to center Jane's brand communications around the in-store vehicle was driven by the demographics of its target market -- teenage girls. "Jane's plan was to build the business on teenagers," he said.
Female teens are a fast-growing audience in the U.S.: there were 13.5 million in 1992, and by the year 2000 there will be 15 million, according to Pettit. "By 2006, there will be more teenage girls in America than there were at the height of the baby boom," Pettit said.
According to Nielsen Scantrack data, the six main cosmetics categories (facial makeup, eye makeup, lipsticks, nail care, powders and remaining) totalled $2.3 billion in sales through food, drug and mass stores in the 52 weeks ended September 9, 1995, the latest full year for which figures were available.
Pettit, a former executive with Noxell, said competing value cosmetics lines had left a "price gap" behind as they moved toward premium strategies, and "climbed the scale" in price and quality. That has tended to restrict the young consumer's capability to experiment with cosmetics, he said.
Sassaby engaged the services of P O P supplier Trans World Marketing, East Rutherford, N.J., which analyzed Sassaby's competitors' existing offerings.
"Their POP presentations were more than a little lacking. They had many stockkeeping units, high price points, and not much information for shoppers," said Boyd Roberts, president of Trans World's West Division.
Any new cosmetics brand, Roberts said, faced a challenge in trying to stand out in a category that has so much invested in P O P. It requires major upfront P O P investment. "You must present yourself as a national competitor from day one, then gain enough shelf space to be important and deliver information without consuming selling space."
Sassaby's first P O P display for Jane, a three-foot wide in-line fixture, was ready in spring 1994, with a second wave ready in time for back-to-school season. The first 800 units were shipped in 8 months, Roberts said.
Pettit said the display program helped Jane expand its mass merchandiser reach to 3,500 doors by May 1995. With the introduction of a new four-foot display and a major effort with chain drug stores, including Rite Aid and Long's Drug, that tally will reach 7,500 stores by May of this year.
"Our sales grew 300% in 1995 and they will double again this year," he said, adding that Jane's market share reached 5.4% in units and 3.3% in dollars, according to recent data from Information Resources.
In addition, the display units allowed Jane to distribute over 2.5 million cosmetics information booklets written and designed for teenage girls, he added.