DIOR OPENS NEW NICHE WITH MAKEUP FOR HAIR: MASCARA FLASH IS LIKELY TO BE COPIED BY RIVALS

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Christian Dior's Mascara Flash is creating a new cosmetics category-makeup for the hair.

Not yet a month old, Mascara Flash seems to have already caught the fancy of consumers, prompting Dior's rivals to take note. Among those said to be readying similar product introductions is Lancome, a unit of Cosmair, itself the U.S. subsidiary of L'Oreal.

Christian Dior Perfumes began selling Mascara Flash on May 1 in both Europe and the U.S. The product instantly highlights hair with strokes of iridescent color, in such shades as cobalt blue.

BASIC COLORS TO BE ADDED

Originally intended as just a fun summer promotion, Dior recast Mascara Flash within a few days of its being on the market as a permanent addition to its cosmetics lineup. It is now planning to add more basic colors that can be used not just to highlight hair but to fill in gray roots.

"Sales have been phenomenal, to the point [where] the majority of stores are out of stock, particularly on the East and West coasts," said Dior Senior VP-Marketing Caroline Geerlings. She said Mascara Flash is surpassing unit sales of Dior's popular cellulite fighter Svelte; Dior now projects hitting U.S. unit sales of 380,000 in the near future. Since May, Dior claims to have sold more than 50,000 units and is awaiting more product shipments from France.

"It's a very new category," Ms. Geerlings said. "There's nothing like it at all in cosmetics, so it's all plus business." Even men are buying the product, she said.

IN-STORE VIDEOS

Dior helped create demand with in-store videos of people applying Mascara Flash. With the product a virtual sellout, Dior could have easily forgone advertising. But it is going ahead with a heavy print schedule for June that in addition to beauty and fashion magazines includes new buys for Dior, such as Entertainment Weekly and In Style. A smaller schedule will run in September.

Ms. Geerlings said the decision to continue advertising stemmed from a recognition that interest in the product would bring new and younger consumers to Dior's counters. That hunch proved correct, she said, claiming a positive "spillover effect on the rest of our business."

Ads were created in-house in Paris and placed in the U.S. by Adler Boschetto

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