By  on May 13, 1994

NEW YORK -- As part of a continuing expansion of the Skin-So-Soft brand of bath items and moisturizers, Avon is adding sun care to the line.

In an added twist, two of the products will carry the trend toward multifunctional sun care to a new level: The items, besides providing moisturizers and protection from the sun's damaging rays, will be touted as insect repellents.

"Skin-So-Soft is our flagship brand," said Sharon Hall, general manager of the company's personal care division, noting that Avon introduced the brand in 1964. "But we've been looking for ways to take growth to the next level, and we came up with a mega-branding strategy."

As part of the strategy to build the brand, Hall said, Skin-So-Soft has been divided into four categories: the original bath products, hand and body moisturizers, moisture "extras" and now sun care.

The new sun line, called Skin-So-Soft Moisturizing Suncare, will be launched in June and will consist of five items, along with the two with insect repellent, which are called Moisturizing Suncare Plus.

The main collection will include a sunblock lotion, available in SPF 15 or 30, with retail prices of $6.49 and $6.99, respectively, for 4-oz. bottles; a 0.5-oz. sunblock stick with SPF 15 for $4.29; a 4-oz. oil-free tanning spray with SPF 6 for $6.99, and after-sun lotion, $4.49 for a 4-oz. bottle.

Each product is imbued with the original Skin-So-Soft scent, referred to by the company as Original Woodland Fresh, and contains ingredients that promote moisturization.

The two Suncare Plus items have an SPF of 15, contain moisturizers and purportedly repel mosquitoes, fleas and deer ticks. The products will be available with either the Woodland Fresh or a new herbal scent, and will sell for $9.99 for a 4-oz. tube.

"Sun care seemed a natural extension for Skin-So-Soft," noted Hall, "but we knew we wanted to come out with products that were on the leading edge of technology, because so many sun items now are multifunctional. Making the products repellent to insects seemed like such a logical step, because people have always slathered on repellant on top of sunscreen."We think this line is going to do well, because convenience is a huge factor," Hall continued. "People don't want to have to spend time with two or more products, and we've combined many of the benefits."

She said the insect repellant in Suncare Plus is plant-based, with an active ingredient of oil of citronella.

"It wasn't hard to combine sun block with the repellant," said Hall. "The hard part is making sure it's efficacious."

She noted that in order to use the word "repellent" on a product, the formula must be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, and Avon has passed this test. The sunscreen formula is registered with the FDA.

Avon will launch the sun line with a short flight of national TV advertising. The line will also appear on the cover of Avon's campaign brochure of 1994, due to be distributed to 15 million people at the beginning of June.

"[Skin-So-Soft] has been growing on average about 6 or 7 percent each year," said Hall. "But we're anticipating growth in the neighborhood of 30 percent this year, and a good part of that is due to the sun items."

She would not disclose specific sales figures, but according to industry estimates, the brand could soon be nearing the $50 million mark.

Besides the sun line, Skin-So-Soft sales will be boosted by the addition of a bubble bath and moisturizing bath bar this year, among other items.

Concluded Hall, "Without question, this is the most action we've seen with this brand in many years."

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