A SASSY APPROACH TO COSMETICS TEEN BRAND WILL CHAT WITH GIRLS ONLINE ABOUT MAKEUP, BOYS

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Sassaby Cosmetics is ready to dress up the interactive world with Jane's Brain, billed as "the thinking girl's guideline to the highway of life."

The newly created, Baltimore-based division of cosmetics case marketer Sassaby, Cardiff, Calif., is introducing a teen cosmetics line this fall called Jane.

On top of a $3 million magazine budget in support of Jane, Sassaby is planning a 24-hour chat service on Prodigy, a move it claims makes Sassaby the first cosmetics marketer to go online.

Sassaby Cosmetics President Don Petit is in final negotiations with Prodigy Services Co. and expects the deal to be signed shortly. While plans now call for Sassaby to provide strictly editorial content, there are discussions about online promotional efforts for the service, expected to start in August.

Jane's Brain will give teen-age girls a forum to talk to each other and to Sassaby about any number of topics, including makeup-of course-but also boyfriends, teachers, parents, politics, music and the future.

Teens will have a chance to do more than just dish. Online users will be asked to identify causes they champion and to help align names of spring and fall shade promotions with those issues. Jane will then donate part of its seasonal promotional sales to those causes.

Jane's online connection separates the color cosmetics line from other brands in the $2.4 billion mass market, led by Procter & Gamble Co.'s Cover Girl with a 25% share.

Sassaby clearly hopes its use of interactive technology will position it on the cutting edge in teens' minds. But online services like Prodigy attract mostly male audiences, and it remains to be seen if girls will be lured by new features like Jane's Brain.

Mr. Petit blames a general flatness in the mass-market cosmetics category in part on a failure by the industry "to address changing demographics [and] a need for category excitement."

While Mr. Petit, a former P&G executive who worked on Navy and Cover Girl, sees Jane's value pricing-every piece of makeup from lipsticks to foundation will be priced at $2.99-appealing to some women over 20, the line is deliberately targeted at teens through a multicultural positioning.

A four-page insert with four models, each representing an ethnic group, will break in teen magazines later this summer with the theme "Everything great about being a girl." Created by free-lancers-the company may look for an agency later-the print ads are written in teen lexicon with a barrage of MTV-like graphics.

Jane will be introduced in 1,250 Wal-Mart and Target stores initially. The line is being watched closely by industry executives who view it as something of a cultural test for the teen market.

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