Eve.com sees offline media as way to become 'big, fast'

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New ads touting online cosmetic shopping are all about Eve. Eve.com, that is. The e-retailer of high-end cosmetics and beauty products is set to launch its first offline ad campaign this month. Eve.com will make traditional media the centerpiece of its initial $5 million budget. If advertising performs well, Eve.com plans eventually to raise its overall spending to $20 million.

"We are spending more on offline ads than on online in order to be big, fast. . . . The window of opportunity is now," said Mariam Naficy, the company's co-founder and co-president.

The offline campaign, handled by Arnold Ingalls Moranville, San Francisco, bows with print ads in September issues of women's magazines including Allure, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair and Vogue. The effort will also likely include outdoor boards and TV spots, which will break this fall.

Rockpile Interactive, an Arnold Ingalls subsidiary, developed online ads, already running on Web properties including America Online and Women.com Networks.


Three versions of print ads--featuring colorful photos of a butterfly, a striped fish and a beetle--seek to convey the natural origins of beauty products. They carry the tagline, "The beauty of the Internet."

Eve.com's target market is 18-to-44-year-old working women who have money to spend on high-end cosmetics, are short on time, are Internet-savvy and often have limited access to retailers that sell upscale products.

The company, whose site launched June 10, received nearly $21 million from venture capitalists including Idealab Capital Partners, Menlo Ventures, Charter Capital and Weiss Pack & Greer.

Eve.com carries an assortment of high-end brands including Elizabeth Arden, Calvin Klein and Urban Decay. It competes with mass-market sites such as Fragrance Counter and Indulge.com, which is to start selling high-end cosmetics in the fall.


But Eve.com--with a no-discount policy that makes the site friendly to cosmetics makers--attempts to differentiate itself based on service and deep inventory. It offers personalization services and gives full refunds for returned products.

"We can appeal to a range of ages, but still have a focused message," said Varsha Rao, Eve.com's other co-founder and co-president.

The site accepts no ads. "It is much more effective for us to use space for merchandising than for putting in flashing banners," said Ms. Naficy.

Michael May, analyst for Jupiter Communications, said he believes Eve.com's merchandising model could differentiate the site from a host of Net cosmetic sellers.

"There are huge opportunities for this category online," Mr. May said. "Eve.com can sell across brands and categories."

Eve.com has inked exclusivity deals with 90% of the brands it sells--deals that make it the only online pure-play that can sell those brands, said Ms. Naficy.

"The barrier to entry in this space will be relationships with manufacturers," said Mr. May. "The more [manufacturers] they can sign early and exclusively, the harder it will be for competitors to move into this space."

Copyright August 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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