By  on February 20, 2009

There's always been hope in the retail industry. That hope is being played out in health and beauty care firms' marketing departments, in the form of gutsy product launches and novel marketing avenues. Sometimes it takes revolutionary products to shake up consumers.

French-based industry leaderL'Oréal is spending more on new items, for example, even as the company struggles financially. Although it's bowing out of the Oscars, the firm is trying new infomercial-style spots on daytime TV. It's quite a change for L'Oréal to use a format once favored by late-night chopping utensils or hair-growth products.

Then there's the new twist on deodorant marketing, as highlighted by The New York Times, that shows that promoting sweating can be sexy. Today, heavy-duty formulas are fueling deodorant growth, and clinical strength formulas are available from brands such as Secret and Gillette.

Dial is also trying a fresh approach with its antiaging shower products as a new twist on traditional shower items. Dial owner Henkel is spending $8 million behind this effort. Procter & Gamble is bringing the natural concept to its Pantene hair care with Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion.

In cosmetics, the wealth of new and better mascaras is igniting sales, along with ideas such as Jane's Aquaceuticals. From a retail store standpoint, Beauty 360 is something bold, but so are smaller moves such as a new sun care line at Rite Aid with the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation.

When shoppers aren't in the mood to buy, it takes more energy to persuade them they need something new. That is what these moves are bringing to retail. Shopper traffic and shopper frequency is down, according to research from TNS Retail Forward. Some customers are trading down to drugstores and dollar stores. Watch for dollar stores to expand departments to serve these shoppers.

NEXT: People, Places and Things >>

People, Places and Things

A few words with Diana Dolling-Ross of Town and Country Apothecary in Ridgewood, N.J.: Dolling-Ross has an independent drugstore that rivals any department store beauty collection. She talks about new competition moving in on her specialty turf. To get business going, she's taken her upscale items on the road, to home parties and in-store demonstrations.

WWDBeautyNews: How do you feel about CVS and others with new beauty concepts that could compete with you?

Dolling-Ross: I think that CVS' New Beauty 360 makes sense. The gap between prestige and mass has lessened, and there is an opportunity for alternative distribution for beauty in areas such as spas and CVS Beauty. I never take any competition for granted. If a CVS New Beauty should move into my town, I feel that I have an advantage because I've been in business here for almost '5 years, I live in the community and the business that I have created here is carefully woven within the community. I study each and every consumer and create customized programs for my customer. I also believe that competition keeps me on my toes!

What's in Store

Rite Aid Gets Upscale Sun Line:
Rite Aid is launching its own premium quality sun care line to compete with national brands and those found at high-end specialty retailers — but at a lower price. Seven of the products will feature the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation.

Antiaging Not About To Sag: Mintel expects antiaging creams to be strong with U.S. sales up '3 percent, outpacing general facial skin care.

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