By  on January 14, 1994

NEW YORK -- Elizabeth Arden has such ambitious sales expectations for Alpha-Ceramide, its upcoming skin care introduction, that it has given the product a nickname: The White Diamonds of skin care.

With an unusually large advertising and promotion budget of $9 million, Arden hopes Alpha-Ceramide, an alpha-hydroxy-acid-based exfoliant, will soar into the volume range normally reserved for blockbuster fragrances like White Diamonds, the Elizabeth Taylor scent that has been a bestseller since its introduction in 1991. According to sources, it did around $60 million at wholesale last year.

Alpha-Ceramide will be introduced in Arden's 3,000 U.S. doors on Feb. 20, and rolled out throughout Europe and Asia by the end of May.

"We're giving this launch an unprecedented level of support," said Mark Loomis, vice president of retail marketing. "The amount of advertising and collateral material in stores is on the level of a major fragrance launch."

Loomis noted that the $100 million mark in worldwide wholesale volume had been reached last year collectively by the first three products in the Ceramide category: Ceramide Time Complex Capsules, launched in 1990; Ceramide Eyes Time Complex Capsules, launched in 1991, and Ceramide Time Complex Moisture Cream, which contains AHA, launched in 1992. The line did almost 20 percent of the company's sales, estimated at near $500 million.

Alpha-Ceramide, which is expected to become the company's top-selling treatment item, is projected at reaching a first-year worldwide wholesale volume of $50 million, Loomis said. He also emphasized that Arden's heavy investment in the product will eventually pay off through customer loyalty.

"We're trying to reinforce the notion that Arden has a strong skin care heritage," he said. "You can no longer just deliver packaged snake oil these days.

"This is going to be a locomotive pulling along the entire Arden business," Loomis continued.

The new product is an anti-aging regimen that has four steps, each containing a different dosage of L-lactic acid, a variety of alpha-hydroxy.

The first three steps -- containing 3, 4.5 and 6 percent acid, respectively -- are meant to be used for two weeks each to allow skin to adjust to the concentrations.

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