Estee Lauder Launches High-End Lip Line

In the hopes that nothing makes a woman feel as up-to-date as a $30 smile, Estee Lauder is introducing Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick, a brand-new lip line. Set to debut in March, the cosmetics giant says the collection represents a formulation breakthrough, with multifaceted pigment that creates the appearance of sculpted lips. And the inspiration, it says, is thoroughly modern, with shades that are “rich in attitude and saturated color.”

Timid, demure women can shop elsewhere: This brand is positioned for glamazons. Print ads feature the fiercely beautiful Carolyn Murphy behind the wheel, and are headlined “Driven by Desire.” And the 20 colors sound like they might have been named by Sheryl (Lean In) Sandberg, including Impassioned, Dominant, Powerful and Vengeful.

The launch comes at a time when American women are flocking to high-end cosmetics counters, happily trading in their drugstore standbys for something more chic. The NPD Group says U.S. sales of premium priced prestige beauty products totaled $2.2 billion in the 12 months ending November, representing a 23% jump. 

And cost doesn’t seem to be a barrier: The NPD report says prices of these prestige products have been climbing steadily for the past two years. “The willingness of today’s consumers to spend a little more on their beauty products is a continued opportunity for manufacturers and retailers,” the Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research company says in its analysis.

Lauder says the Pure Envy line is as powerful as it is pretty, delivering extra moisturizing properties via hyaluronic acid, and that it lasts for up to six hours. It is also rolling out a limited-edition line of matching nail products, called Pure Color Envy Nail Lacquers. Available in five colors, those are priced at $20.

The launch is also expected to help the performance of the company’s flagship brand, which has not done as well as its makeup artist and M-A-C brands. (M-A-C is the global leader in prestige lipstick sales.) In its most recent quarterly results, total sales rose 5% to $2.68 billion, results that were depressed by lower sales of certain heritage brands.

Women’s Wear Daily reports that Lauder will spend $20 million marketing the new line, which may reach $60 billion in sales this year, with some $18 million in the U.S.

In addition to the print campaign, WWD says marketing will feature a digital campaign, including Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #LipstickEnvy, as well as video vignettes that create a persona for each shade.

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