Fun Cosmetics Launches Interactive Web Community

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Fun Cosmetics, Hillside, NJ, is getting into the e-commerce of cosmetics early with the launch of next month.

Until now, the year-old cosmetics company -- which targets girls 12 to 19 -- has concentrated mainly on selling its products in retail locations such as Wal-Mart, CVS, Target, Walgreens and Cosmetic Sources. With the Web site debuting Feb. 15, president/CEO David Blau hopes to not only drive traffic to its site but to retail locations as well.

"For the first 12 months, our primary focus was selling our products in retail stores," he said. "Now, we want to use the Web to create store and site traffic while expanding our brand awareness beyond cosmetics."

According to Blau, the Web appeals to Fun Cosmetics because of the speed it can provide in helping gauge a consumer's response to a particular item. The immediate feedback lets a company make the necessary changes to a product to increase its chances of being successful. He also hopes the site will create a better dialogue with the customers. "We want to understand our demographics better," he said.

Fun Cosmetics is looking to create an interactive online community where girls can visit to learn more than just about makeup and fashion. Through strategic marketing alliances that will be announced in the next few weeks, other teen-oriented products will have content on the site as well.

"More than anything, we want to make this an online community where young girls will be able to come and find out about things other than cosmetics," Blau said. "It is going to be a site where they can get information on music, film and issues that are relevant to them in their everyday lives."

Derek White, general manager of MarketSource Interactive, a marketing services company specializing in the youth and college market, said online communities stand a good chance of being successful, if they fulfill the necessary expectations.

"A site can't say it's going to be a community -- and then when kids get there it is only a retail site," he said. "If they tell these people they are a community, then they have to follow through on that. In working with kids, they have told us that they don't want sites to pretend to be one thing when they are something else."

White said Fun Cosmetics' biggest challenge will be establishing a brand and differentiating it from other sites.

"If they establish a brand, they should do quite well," he said. "They have to be known as the best place to buy cosmetics. Studies have shown that selling cosmetics online is ready for prime time and those that establish an early presence will be rewarded for it."

For the first year, only 50 to 100 products will be sold at the site, said Blau, who also hopes to offer other products, including hair accessories, jewelry and change purses When arriving at the site, consumers will be asked if they want to sign up for one of the numerous clubs or take part in answering fashion questions and surveys.

"By them taking part in the clubs and surveys, we both benefit," Blau said. "They get to be our beauty critics and help make decisions on some of our products based on their feedback, while we get to discover the latest trends from their input."

Names will be collected to create a database. Those people will receive e-mail offers promoting sales and new products that can be found at both the site and at retail stores. Because of the young age of the girls visiting the site, privacy will be of great concern.

"The sign-up will be completely voluntary," Blau said. "A policy statement is going to be posted stating that any names collected will not be sold, traded or bartered. Once they get to the e-commerce section of the site, there will be an authentication screen where they will have to prove they are over 18 and that they have permission to use the credit card involved."

Blau said plans to market the site's launch still are in discussion but it includes some online marketing with a number of the major search engines.

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