Finding the 'Magic'1 Jun, 2014 By: Thomas Haire Response
With the help of direct response marketing, Jerome Alexander says Magic Minerals is the right product at the right time to return his makeup brand to American retail prominence.
“As someone who has been in the business for more than 40 years and been in almost every department store in America, the opportunity to get our brand into mass merchandisers by taking advantage of these avenues available to us through television and the Internet is very exciting,” says Jerome Alexander, beauty industry legend and marketer of the successful Magic Minerals makeup product. “It speaks to the creativity and innovation that is encouraged in the DR industry.”
Alexander, who began his career as a makeup artist in the 1960s and launched his eponymous brand in 1968, has spent much of the past 15 years creating home shopping success stories both in the U.S. and Europe with his high-quality beauty products. Those successes synchronized to create Magic Minerals — a mineral powder with foundation, correctors and concealer all in one — which enjoyed extensive success overseas in recent years.
Earlier this year, Alexander along with his son and company president Berin Axelrod, decided to launch Magic Minerals in 10,000 retail outlets in the United States, while creating a direct and digital campaign to support the product that will launch later this summer. The initial rollout has been solid.
“With the success of Magic Minerals at retail, even with no media support, we know that adding on a media campaign, both in the U.S. and internationally, will produce amazing results,” Alexander says.
Pioneer and Innovator
It’s hard to doubt Alexander’s high hopes for the Magic Minerals product. After all, he has a 46-year track record of success in every aspect of the beauty industry. “Professional, retail, manufacturing and education — I created beauty products from makeup to hair care to appliances to ladies wigs,” Alexander says. “What I’ve learned over the years that’s most beneficial to the Magic Minerals brand is what women want — a product that is simple, easy and that works.”
Alexander has always been a pioneer. “The brand has been around since 1968. You know, there aren’t a lot of makeup artists from that time still alive today,” he says with a laugh, “and there have never been that many famous or ‘personality’ makeup artists.”
He compares his work in pushing a line of Jerome Alexander products into the biggest and best department stores during the 1970s and 1980s to a more recently well-known beauty brand. “In those years, we did exactly what the MAC brand did in the 1990s,” he says. “We were in 1,500 department stores, including Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus.”
Innovation has always been a staple of Alexander’s brand, as well. “In the mid-1970s, cosmetic brushes as they exist now didn’t exist at all,” he says. “Makeup artists — myself included — would buy art brushes from art stores and hand cut them. So we created the first set of state-of-the-art cosmetic brushes and introduced them in department stores. Shortly after, we were selling $8 million — that’s 1970s dollars — in just cosmetic brushes per year!”
As the brand matured, Alexander began to look at the growing home shopping space to market his products. He first debuted on HSN in the United States in 1995 and quickly added HSE Germany (and then QVC Germany) into his arsenal. Alexander’s products enjoyed great success for almost a decade in U.S. home shopping and have continued to boom across Europe to this day, including on the U.K.’s Ideal World network.
“From working more than 15 years on live shopping channels, I realized the importance of having a product that is unique and different, yet affordable,” Alexander says. “I love the fact that a woman can watch, put her coffee cup down and go right to the phone to order the product. But I have also learned that you can’t fall in love with the story you’ve created around your product. Sometimes you think it’s the greatest thing ever, but in the end it’s always up to the consumer to make that decision.”
A Product for the Brand
But though there’s been much success in home shopping, Alexander says it came at the expense of his brand. “On the shopping channels, we were so busy making money — setting records, having 1 million Euro days in Germany — we lost sight of the brand,” he says. “This was a brand that we built with marketing and PR through the 1980s and was competing in retail with the L’Oreals, the Lancômes, the Estée Lauders.”
It makes sense, then, that Alexander became much more focused on the Magic Minerals brand — and where it fit with his own brand — when he launched the product in Europe. But Magic Minerals actually came from another Alexander product.
“I developed a product called Italian Marble, which was a pressed powder with the same concept as Magic Minerals, in that had all the self-correctors blended into the powder — yellow, green, pink and purple,” Alexander says. “For years as a makeup artist, I’ve been using these colors under makeup to correct problems like discoloration, redness and darkness under the eyes. Italian Marble sold everywhere — in the U.S. on Home Shopping Network, in Germany on QVC and HSE, and on Ideal World in the U.K.”
From there, Alexander watched as the cosmetics industry started trending toward mineral powder products. “When the mineral powder craze started, I didn’t like that it was only available as loose powder,” he says. “So I took Italian Marble — took out the irritants, talc and fragrance — and created Italian Mineral Powder which eventually evolved to become Magic Minerals — a product that made more sense for direct response and mass retail.”
And the timing was right for Alexander to make the move on a personal level as well. “All the travel and doing the live shows — it can get tedious and it wears you down,” he says. “My son thought it would be a good idea to look into other opportunities, and we felt that DR would be an absolute natural.”
Alexander and Axelrod began researching DR partners for Magic Minerals late in the past decade — Alexander calls the process “a real learning curve.” He adds, “We went into short-form and direct-to-retail with various international partners.”
Though the partnerships were “successful,” according to Alexander, when his team decided to bring the product to the U.S. this year, he says, “We decided to go alone into the U.S. market. It’s a hero product and keeps getting stronger and stronger.”
Coming to America
But not completely alone — Alexander says that Axelrod helped put together a “top-notch team” of U.S. agencies and vendors to launch Magic Minerals (and a more youth-oriented product, Hot Stuff) stateside. The most intriguing part of the campaign: going direct to retail without any U.S. media before that launch. “We are presently carried in more than 10,000 stores nationwide — mainly Rite Aid and CVS — and we hope to open an additional 50,000 stores during the next year,” Alexander says.
How, you ask? Well, that’s where the media campaign comes in. Slated to start in August with short-form DRTV, Web, social media and PR elements, the company hopes to create an even bigger consumer clamor for Magic Minerals. “With the success of Magic Minerals at retail — even with no media support — we know that adding on a media campaign, both in the U.S. and internationally, will produce amazing results, “Alexander says.
The campaign will center on a new spot, the website and what Alexander calls an “exciting social media program.” He adds, “Digital, DR and retail will work synergistically as we expand Magic Minerals in the U.S. market. Online marketing will be a major factor in our U.S. retail rollout plans.”
Alexander believes that the vendor partners that the company has selected to work on the Magic Minerals brand — both in the U.S. and abroad — are “top notch.” He adds, “In the U.S., U.K., Europe and hopefully around the globe, we are partnering with some excellent companies with extensive media knowledge and experience.”
He names some of his vendors for the stateside campaign: Lipstick Inc., MESA Management Consulting, Marketing Maven Public Relations, Motivational Fulfillment, Mojo and Direct Avenue.
“Our partner vendors have been totally supportive in this transitional period, by understanding what I’ve built and what has been working internationally for years, and adapting it for success in direct response without changing the overall brand,” Alexander says. “We are working with Mojo for website creation, Motivational for fulfillment, Lipstick Inc. for production, and Marketing Maven for public relations and social media marketing. Rich Scheiner is the program’s DRTV campaign consultant.”
Alexander’s outlook for both the Magic Minerals product and his own brand could not be more positive as he takes this big leap back into the U.S. retail market with the help of a direct, digital and data-driven marketing campaign.
“My whole career was built on TV, beginning in the 1960s and 1970s when I used TV for PR,” Alexander says. “I feel that DR marketing is going to generate a tremendous amount of new sales. People recognize and appreciate the name, and many have already experienced the Jerome Alexander brand. This is, truly, the next step for the company.” ■