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Because i'm worth it," could be the motto for all of L'Oreal's marketing, not just its Preference hair color.

That 1973 pitch is still valid today, when the brand -- which sells in mass-market outlets -- advertises and promotes itself in a way similar to brands sold in department stores.

L'Oreal has succeeded in building an upscale brand image among mass brands, says Burt Flickinger a consultant with Reach Marketing. The creative and media for its print advertising is more similar to department-store brands such as Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden than to other brands sold in drugstores and supermarkets, he says.

The company has used its print schedule wisely, choosing to advertise in fashion books and publications that appeal to the hip and young, rather than mass-appeal titles, Mr. Flickinger says. He notes L'Oreal has allied itself with publications such as Elle for promotions in the U.S. and overseas to create an upscale image as a fashion-conscious company.

L'Oreal is the big spender in the Cosmair family, which also includes Maybelline, Laboratoires Garnier, Lancome and Redken. L'Oreal consolidated its haircare and cosmetics and fragrance units in 1997, putting Senior VP of Marketing Carol Hamilton in charge of the largest spender in the beauty category.

Under her leadership, the retail division extended the "Because I'm worth it" positioning to launch the L'Oreal Kids shampoo line in 1997 and launched Feria hair color and Plenitude Revitalift, an extension of L'Oreal's skincare line.

At the same time, the existing hair-color lines were all revamped with new formulas and additional advertising. Casting was relaunched as Casting ColorSpa in spring and L'Oreal's top lines, Preference and Excellence, were both reformulated this summer.

Feria is the best example of L'Oreal's fashion-focused approach to product development and marketing. The line was pitched for its fashionable shades, rather than gray coverage. The strategy was used to attract younger consumers who see hair color as a fashion accessory.

In spring, L'Oreal took on a bolder marketing step when it introduced Dyes for Guys, an assortment of shades aimed at men. The line was based on research that showed a growing group of young men were coloring their hair with women's tints.

Shades were packaged in the boxes with men's pictures and advertised in men's

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