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L'Oreal is preparing a massive cross-category launch in 1997 of beauty products under the Gar-nier name.

Garnier, which operates as an umbrella division of L'Oreal overseas with different branded products, plans to introduce a range of makeup, treatment, haircare and hair coloring products in the U.S., possibly in the first half of the year.


The products easily could be backed with more than $60 million in advertising, according to industry executives. No agency has been given the U.S. assignment as yet.

It's expected the line will be distributed via Maybelline Co., recently acquired by Paris-based L'Oreal and its U.S. marketing arm, Cosmair. Maybelline's agency is Gotham, New York, while McCann-Erickson Worldwide and Publicis, New York and Paris, handle other Cosmair products in the U.S.

L'Oreal's triple threat of Maybelline, Garnier and its classic L'Oreal brand will put further pressure on Procter & Gamble Co.'s Cover Girl and Max Factor brands, already being squeezed by a reborn Revlon and its sister brand, Almay.

Revlon has captured the dollar share lead from Cover Girl in the $2.5 billion mass-market makeup category. According to A.C. Nielsen Co. data, Revlon's color cosmetics dollar share jumped to 21.7% in the first quarter of 1996, from 18.9% for the same period a year before, while Cover Girl continued to trend down, falling to 21.6% dollar share, from more than 22% a year ago; Almay increased to 6.3% from 5.5%, rivaling P&G's Max Factor at a 6.6% share.


Much of Revlon's recent success is attributed to its ColorStay and Age Defying collections, which have made Revlon the No. 1 brand in foundations, a position previously held by P&G's Cover Girl, according to observers.

Beth Kaplan, general manager of P&G's cosmetics division, appeared unruffled by the trends, noting: "We measure share based on what consumers actually buy on a unit basis. We're delighted that Cover Girl remains by far the leading share brand."

Industry executives concede Cover Girl's 22.9% unit share, compared to Revlon's 13.5% and Maybelline's 16%. But observers maintain the dollar share trend must be disquieting to P&G.


Ms. Kaplan, a relative newcomer to the beauty industry, recently lost a seasoned partner, Charles Busta, to rival Revlon.

Mr. Busta had been co-general manager of P&G's cosmetics unit, with responsibility for Cover Girl and Oil of Olay's Olay cosmetics, now in market testing. He recently moved to Revlon as exec VP-general manager, beauty care division. His responsibilities include haircare, hair coloring and development of a skin treatment line. A no-compete clause in his P&G contract is said to prohibit him from working on cosmetics.


Mr. Busta's mission at Revlon appears to be to make a success of its toiletries.

His departure from P&G rekindled speculation that P&G might sell off portions of its cosmetics business, though P&G steadfastly denies those rumors.

Some industry executives report that P&G's mass-market fragrances such as Navy and Max Factor's Incognito have been shopped to them.

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