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Awake: One for the Ages

NEW YORK — Awake Cosmetics, a skin care and makeup brand produced by Japanese giant Kose Corp., is entering the lucrative antiage treatment category.<BR><BR>As part of Awake’s Skin Renovation collection, Kose will introduce Firm Advantage,...

NEW YORK — Awake Cosmetics, a skin care and makeup brand produced by Japanese giant Kose Corp., is entering the lucrative antiage treatment category.

As part of Awake’s Skin Renovation collection, Kose will introduce Firm Advantage, a $220 botanically based cream. The product will make its debut Oct. 1 in an exclusive distribution consisting solely of Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman doors. The Renovation line now has seven stockkeeping units, ranging from $55 for a wash to $180 for an intensive boosting serum. A moisturizer is priced at $98.

“This is our first entry into the high-priced luxury market,” said Daniela Ciocan, marketing director of Kose (America) Inc.

Like the other items in the line, the new entry is designed as a repair product using natural ingredients, and it is planned as a first step toward eventually launching other luxury products. “The concept is to marry hi tech science with nature,” she added.

The key ingredient in the cream is called Rice Energy Extract, a molecule gleaned from the fermentation process of sake, and it is used to help the skin retain moisture by increasing ceramide production. Increased moisturizing leads to increased firmness of skin.

According to Kose’s test results, after applying Firm Advantage for two weeks , moisture retention ability jumps by as much as 41 percent. After four weeks, capability grows as much as 54 percent. Even two weeks after stopping application, retention ability remains 62 percent higher than before treatment began, executives said.

The launch will be promoted with advertising in W magazine, direct mail and sampling. Yoshiyuki Nishizawa, president of the American subsidiary, said his game plan is to build sales productivity within its select network of Neiman’s doors.

The Renovation collection is the higher-priced counterpart to the main Awake skin care and cosmetics brand, which has a slightly broader distribution of nearly 30 doors, including Henri Bendel and some Sephora doors. The Awake treatment range has 35 sku’s, ranging in price from $15 to $105. The makeup collection, called Stardom, has 22 items and 153 sku’s, with a lipstick priced at $21.

Executives declined to talk numbers, but according to industry sources, the business is growing at a 30 percent clip this year, approaching $10 million in total volume.

— Pete Born