Coty, Estee Lauder see opportunity in hip-hop

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First it sold music, then apparel and now the hype of hip-hop is being used to sell beauty products.

The beauty industry is following the $10 billion urban-apparel phenomenon by reaching out to ever-influential rappers and their hypnotic beats to back a raft of fragrances and skin care that cater to the cool new multicultural hipness that department stores have long been missing.

Mainstream beauty behemoths Coty and Estee Lauder are both gearing up first-time entries into the booming urban space with fragrances from Kimora Lee Simmons and P. Diddy, respectively. Likewise seeing the opportunity to mine the music world for profit in other categories, a roster of investors led by urban-marketing entrepreneur Steve Stoute that includes actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, former Sony Music head Tommy Mottola and his Latin pop-star wife Thalia, rapper Jay-Z and Interscope Chairman Jimmy Iovine, is pushing mainstream with a Brooklyn-based natural-skin-care brand, Carol's Daughter.


"The hip-hop movement today is a broad-based youth movement much like rock 'n' roll was in the '60s, and it's now staring the fragrance and beauty industry in the face in terms of how big a commercial opportunity it could be," said Dennis Keogh, VP-marketing for Coty's prestige- fragrance unit, Lancaster Group U.S.

Lancaster this August will roll out a line of fragrances, body lotions and shower gels under the Baby Phat Goddess by Kimora Lee Simmons banner in an effort to help its frustrated department-store customers finally attract a young audience.

Department-store conglomerates May Co. and Federated Corp. are "all over" Goddess, aggressively predicting the fragrance could hit the top five, Mr. Keogh said, especially given the nontraditional marketing efforts Lancaster plans to use to reach the traditional-media-elusive 16-to-22 set.

The $12 million launch plan will include some traditional print from agency Select Communications, New York, in mainstream fashion and beauty titles this October as well as urban titles Latina and Vibe. But the bulk of the effort will largely focus on text messaging, Internet and Goddess street teams (featuring all the "bling" of Ms. Simmons' lifestyle) to sample the fragrance at retail along with on-site radio broadcasts featuring a slew of new and emerging hip-hop artists.

Estee Lauder will likewise tap into the trend with the launch of its Sean John lineup based on the booming P. Diddy apparel brand, in early 2006. John Demsey, global brand president of Estee Lauder, said the line will "be very comprehensive play in the men's grooming arena."

The heavy-hitters behind upstart entrepreneur Lisa Price's homemade Carol's Daughter brand are pooling their wealth of resources to break into the $12 billion skin-care market in a big way. The original boutique in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood will be joined in August by a Harlem flagship complete with spa and later in the year by additional locations in Atlanta and Baltimore markets among others as well as a push into mainstream beauty retailers like Sephora and department stores. Jada Pinkett Smith recently was featured as the face of the brand in its first-ever national ad in the May issue of Time Inc.'s Essence. Thalia announced during a recent press event that she is "the Latin connection" and will "introduce this line to all my peeps."

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