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Babor Targets Youth Market

NEW YORK — Babor, one of Germany’s most venerable skin care brands, is planning to give its U.S. business a shot in the arm by appealing to the youth market.<BR><BR>The brand will unveil its newest product range, B. Young, in May. The...

NEW YORK — Babor, one of Germany’s most venerable skin care brands, is planning to give its U.S. business a shot in the arm by appealing to the youth market.

The brand will unveil its newest product range, B. Young, in May. The range is geared to 15- to 30-year-olds and will be available in normal, oily and combination skin versions.

The line’s secret weapon is a trio of arctic berries — raspberries, cranberries and blueberries — that help shield skin against harsh conditions, noted Paul Cain, president and chief executive officer of Babor in the U.S.

“Arctic berries are able to survive in the harshest of weather conditions, yet they stay plump — just like you want skin to do,” said Cain. “By studying these berries’ defense mechanisms, we have been able to formulate an extremely effective product line.”

Three versions of the skin-protecting moisturizer — B. Young Balance Cream for dry skin, B. Young Sensitive Cream and B. Young Combination Cream — will be offered. Each retails for $30 for a 50-ml. jar.

Each formula is slightly tweaked to address skin concerns — for instance, the combination cream has rice starch to control shine, the sensitive formula has vitamin E to help reduce irritation and the dry skin formula has macadamia nut oil to provide added moisturizing properties.

As well, three products suitable for all skin types will be part of the B. Young collection. They include B. Young Moisture Gel, an oil-free gel with arctic algae, $24 for 50 ml.; B. Young Tinted Day Cream, a 50-ml. tinted moisturizer in two shades, $22 each, and B. Young Lip Balm with arctic raspberry, $10 for 15 ml.

The B. Young line follows a number of recent launches for the brand. They include the Sea Creation line, with “stress-activated” ingredients, in January 2004; White Effect, a skin-lightening collection, in November 2004, and two freestanding skin care products, Stop 3, an anticellulite gel, and Mimical Control, which Cain calls a “Botox-like” product, in January.

Babor’s primary focus is skin care, although the brand also produces body care, sun care and a color cosmetics range, which Cain promises “will also see new innovations” in the near future.

While Babor has operated a U.S. division since the early Eighties, until 2003 it has operated solely in day and destination spas. In late 2003, the brand added to its reach by adding selected upscale specialty store doors after establishing a new U.S. division called the fashion cosmetics group. The brand’s current U.S. distribution now includes a wide range of spas and a lineup of selected specialty stores, including Nordstrom and Takashimaya. Its retailer base includes about 100 retail doors, 120 resort and destination spas and 2,000 day spas.

In addition, Babor sells directly via its Web site, babor.com, and estimates that it has about 1,500 e-commerce customers. It also operates a loyalty program that drives business from e-tail into bricks-and-mortar stores.

Cain said that in the next few years he sees the brand growing to 4,000 to 5,000 U.S. doors, with a total of about 500 specialty store doors, including chains.

Babor operates its own freestanding day spa, the Babor Institut, in Palm Beach, Fla. The facility opened in early 1997 and allows the company to get a real-life read on many of its products — and to showcase its brand positioning, noted Cain.