Eve.com revamps to take on a vast pool of competitors

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Eve.com hopes its new online and print ads will catch consumers' attention and build their trust in a brand that now stands for more than just beauty products.

The ads, which break in August issues of Allure, InStyle and Vogue and online on portals and sites including America Online, AltaVista, ChickClick, Lycos, Snap.com and Yahoo!, will run with the new tagline: "What kind of Eve are you?"

The campaign is part of a $10 million account handled by Arnold Ingalls Moranville, San Francisco. It comes on the heels of Eve's revamped site, unveiled June 26, that added jewelry to makeup and other beauty products from companies including BeneFit, Elizabeth Arden Co., Hard Candy, Lorac and Urban Decay. Eve plans to add other categories in September, including accessories such as leather goods, handbags, ties and scarves; and home products, such as bedding, linens, textiles and robes.

The switch is a radical departure for the e-tailer, but one that has been "in progress for quite a while," said co-founder and co-President Mariam Naficy.

"When we tried to choose the name, we decided to pick Eve because it was a universal name and would allow us to extend and grow," Ms. Naficy said, adding that the company for a year has been working on redesigning its site and planning to diversify products offered.


An economic move, offering new categories of products is a way "to maintain high margins" and reach profitability more rapidly, she said.

Despite a market crowded with other online beauty sites, Ms. Naficy said Eve's decision to diversify did not stem from encroach-

ing competitors including Beauty.com (recently bought by Drugstore.com), BeautyJungle.com, iBeauty.com, Sephora.com and Gloss.com (recently acquired by Estee Lauder Cos.).


Eve's traffic as a pure-play beauty site was more than three times that of any other pure-play site except for Sephora.com. In May, Eve had 637,000 unique visitors, according to Media Metrix. Sephora.com had 359,000. No other pure-play beauty sites had traffic high enough--at least 200,000 unique visitors--to be measured by Media Metrix. Other beauty sites the researcher ranked were those tied to offline brands or marketers such as Olay (384,000), Avon Products (307,000), Cover Girl (293,000) and Zia Natural Skincare (208,000).

Eve, backed by Idealab, is "very optimistic about our chances to survive as an independent," Ms. Naficy said.

But just by diversifying, the company faces new competition, said Heather Dougherty, a Jupiter Communications analyst.

"Eve.com is also moving into an area of luxury goods, which is also becoming increasingly competitive," Ms. Dougherty said, citing as an example eLuxury.com, owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Neiman Marcus Group and Saks Fifth Avenue also have been stepping up their Web efforts, she said.

"It's going to be difficult for Eve to compete," even though the company recently hired four former executives from upscale retailer Barneys New York as general merchandise managers, Ms. Dougherty said.


Sites tied to department stores can leverage multiple branding channels, private-label credit cards, name recognition and other assets that Eve can't, she said.

A teaser campaign with Eve's redesigned logo to promote the new site has been running in July magazines, including Allure, Cosmopolitan, Martha Stewart Living, InStyle and Vogue.

Eve broke its first print, online and TV campaign from Arnold Ingalls last August.

"We are trying to retain some of the look and feel of the old campaign in terms of the white space and the positioning line," said Rob Ingalls, managing partner-creative director at Arnold Ingalls. "[But] Eve itself is changing. Our effort has been to not put a face on Eve. [The tagline] is meant to be left open to interpretation. We want the reader to place herself in the ad. . . . Our effort is to let Eve be anonymous and to allow Eve to be every woman."


By offering higher-priced goods such as jewelry, Eve "can raise the average transaction size and provide an adequate return on customer acquisition costs," Ms. Naficy said. The thinking is that cosmetics draw consumers into the online store; other products keep them there with additional buying options.

While Eve ran a TV campaign from Arnold through the end of 1999, the new effort omits that medium.

"TV was great from a brand-building standpoint, but it really didn't drive traffic to the site like we thought it would," Ms. Naficy said.

Copyright June 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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