Cosmair becomes L'Oreal USA

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After 47 years, Cosmair clicks into a new identity today as

L'Oreal USA.

The U.S. subsidiary of L'Oreal will launch its new name along with a new corporate Web site, to promote the company and its many brands.

Why the name change now? Because Cosmair's worth it, L'Oreal executives believe.

Cosmair was established in 1953 as a New Jersey-based licensee to distribute L'Oreal products in the U.S. Since then, the unit has grown to $2.6 billion in sales and added U.S. brands such as Maybelline, Redken 5th Avenue and Helena Rubenstein. New acquisitions just this year include ethnic beauty marketer Carson Products, skin and haircare brand Kiehl's, and the Matrix salon haircare brand.

"With this name change, we can tell people we are the No. 1 beauty company in America," said Georges-Edouard Dias, VP-new media.

The change to L'Oreal USA will help the company's U.S. profile, as well as its efforts to recruit employees, Mr. Dias said. L'Oreal's largest market is the U.S., the source of 20% to 25% of the company's annual revenue. The new moniker is part of a global plan in which all subsidiaries worldwide will assume the L'Oreal name this year.

The Web site launch is the linchpin in touting the name change, which will also be promoted through public relations efforts and events in the New York area, said Ellen Beth Van Buskirk, VP-corporate communications. The site includes information about company finances, employment opportunities and products, as well as links to individual sites for brands such as L'Oreal Paris, Maybelline and Lancome.

The company has Web sites to promote all its consumer brands and last year launched two e-commerce initiatives, for its Club des Createurs de Beaute and Lancome brands. Lancome launched a Web site in December to sell products to U.S. consumers. CCB, a direct marketer of luxury skincare and makeup products, launched a site in its top three markets of France, Germany and the U.S.


The brand sites are important not only as a sales vehicle, but as a way to enhance brand image and improve merchandising efforts, said Doron Stern, marketing director of interactive development. He noted many women will research a product online before they try it in stores, so the online experience is designed to enhance retailers' efforts.

L'Oreal plans to highlight the Internet this year for all its branding activities. At April meetings to announce 1999 financial results, executives said L'Oreal will put more emphasis on e-commerce and increase online advertising spending this year. Chairman-CEO Lindsay Owen-Jones said L'Oreal will hike online spending from 0.3% to 3% of its ad budget. L'Oreal spent $467.3 million in U.S. media across all its brands in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

"It's a way of transferring our expertise and our vision of beauty," said Mr. Dias. "The U.S. site is a major step."

L'Oreal is not alone among beauty companies in venturing into the Internet to compete against the spate of independent beauty e-tailers launched last year. Procter & Gamble Co. launched, an interactive merchant offering personalized toiletries. Estee Lauder Cos.--an industry holdout that refused to supply e-tailers--bought beauty site as part of an overhaul of its Internet strategy that will launch a companywide site in early 2001 to sell products from its prestige brands.

Copyright June 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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