In 1981 Sainsbury's launched their first range of beauty products which was advertised as being able to combine the ‘best for the skin with the prettiest for the face’. The ‘J’ range offered a total skin-care programme plus a range of cosmetics for the face, eyes, lips and nails. The initial range included ‘J’ Dual Cleanser, ’J’ Skin Moisturiser (with a light sun-cream), ‘J’ Enriched Moisture cream (with emollients and wheat-germ oil), ‘J’ Skin Conditioning Crème (unperfumed) and ‘J’ All-In-One Foundation (oil free with light sunscreen).
The products were quite aesthetically pleasing too, with simple burgundy packaging featuring the distinctive ‘J’ symbol.
In stores there was a special display area together with a tester bar where customers were able to try out lipsticks and eyeshadows.
The range was accompanied by a useful booklet to help customers gain the maximum benefit from ‘J’ products. The new cosmetics range was available at 116 of the larger stores and in all SavaCentres.
During the September of 1981, trial sizes of 30ml of ‘J’ Cleanser, ‘J’ Toner and ‘J’ Moisturiser were available for only 25p! A series of magazine and newspaper advertisements accompanied the launch of the new cosmetics range:
In 1984 Sainsbury’s added ‘J’ Christmas Make Up collection for £4.95; ‘J’ Compact for £3.99, ’J’ Eau de Toilette for £2.95, ‘J’ Drawer Liners, ‘J’ Luxury Bath set and many more. A novelty gift was the Soap Cottage for £1.35. Three soaps with the Occasion fragrances were boxed into a ‘country cottage’ beautifully decorated with Occasion flowers.
For the younger generation there was a new Miss ‘J’ range with eyeshadows, lipglosses or blushers, each packaged neatly into a glossy blue, pink or yellow case.
In 1986 the whole collection was given a major facelift, to keep up to date with the latest fashions and to compete with the ‘up market’ feel and durability of the top cosmetic houses. Major changes included new in store display units and the products themselves had a new appearance - each one was individually boxed, the boxes being white with a fine dove grey stripe and the ‘J’ logo appeared in burgundy and gold.
The shades for autumn 1986 were called ‘Colours from the Orient’.
The ‘Orient’ collection colours included Peking Bronze, Kashmir, Siam Red and Dynasty for lips and nails and Kyoto, Samarkand and Mandala trio palettes and Celadon/Jade and Twilight/Evening Star duo palettes for eyes. Even with all the changes and redesigns, the prices of the ‘J’ range remained low – most items were priced between £1 and £2, making it one of the most competitivly priced collections.
In 1991 Sainsbury’s introduced ‘J’ additions, where each product contained Vitamin E which improved the skin’s ability to retain moisture. There was a lipstick, blusher and eyeshadow colours all packaged in cream and navy colours. All ‘J’ cosmetics were made without cruelty to animals.
In 1997, Sainsbury’s herelded the end of the 'J' cosmetic range and replaced it with Oil of Ulay and a selection from four brands: Max Factor, Cover Girl, Rimmel and L’Oreal. By this point the ‘J’ brand was seen as outdated and regarded as a budget brand. On the other hand, Oil of Ulay was the UK’s number one skincare brand. Stores provided more space for testers, updated displays, increased availability and range and more importantly trained staff in use of cosmetics.
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