POSNER COSMETICS GIVES ITSELF A MAKEOVER: VENERABLE MARKETER AIMS EFFORT AT YOUNGER CONSUMERS OF COLOR

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Posner Cosmetics will put on a new, more youthful face when its first ad campaign in three years breaks later this month.

The ethnic marketer will use print ads and in-store displays as part of an effort to revamp the 35-year-old line of makeup for women of color.

Ads will appear in December issues of magazines targeted to ethnic readers, including Essence, Heart & Soul and Sisters in Style. Spending is estimated at less than $5 million, but it's a significant marketing uptick for the brand. It has focused on merchandising while it handled an ownership change.

The ad campaign has been designed to attract younger women without turning off the 35-and-over group, said Tom Rascati, creative director at Westphal Media, New York, Posner's agency.

Posner, now targeting 18-to-34-year-olds, traditionally sells to women 35 and older, according to brand manager Erica Edwards.

The advertising will make appeals to both groups with a new logo, updated visuals and a model who is all modern without being too edgy, he said.

"We were looking for more of a Lauryn Hill style," said Mr. Rascati.

CHANGE APLENTY

Like hip-hop music star Ms. Hill, Posner is hoping for a breakout success after years of toil. The brand was acquired in June 1998 by Carson Inc., then parent of Cutex nail polish, from IVX Bioscience, which had bought Posner in the early 1990s. After buying Posner and Johnson Products, marketer of the Dark & Lovely brand, Carson sold Cutex and announced it would concentrate on marketing the ethnic lines.

The new strategy and "Are you ready?" tagline mark a transition for Posner, which will undergo a package redesign and revamp its offerings in late 2000, said Ms. Edwards.

She wouldn't reveal the new lineup, but said it will include items in new categories and a wider shade selection.

Posner's estimates, based on data from Information Resources Inc., put the ethnic makeup market at $30 million annually, with Posner holding 14% of the segment. Consultancy Target Market News estimates African-American women increased their spending on grooming from $1 billion in 1996 to $3 billion in '98 as they entered the workforce en masse thanks to the strong economy.

Category marketers face a good-news, bad-news situation, said Suzanne Grayson, president of consultancy Grayson Associates. While the segment is growing along with the population, sales of ethnic lines are still only a fraction of those for general-market lines.

But while lower sales make them vulnerable to be weeded out by space-hungry retailers, the ethnic lines fill a need for customers who need darker shades of

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