By  on March 11, 2005

NEW YORK — Mass marketers have been in hot water with the bath and body category for the past four years.

Sales sunk a few percentage points last year, marking three consecutive years of decline. Colleen Booth, president and chief executive officer of Delicious Brands, has seen the ebb and flow of the bath and body category in the mass arena. She thinks she has the solution with her new firm offering a menu of different lines created for specific retail needs.

“No retailer needs another raspberry gel or salt rub,” said Booth. “I saw a trend to give retailers something that fits their own personality.”

Currently, Delicious Brands offers five options ranging from 3 in 1, which Booth said is perfect for commodity retailers, to Habitat, a collection of home aromatics for more upscale doors. There’s also the Booth’s brand, which is reminiscent of Kiehl’s, Bath Basics with aromatherapy components and Spalicious, a salon-inspired collection. A new collection called Mod Spa will bow in Rite Aid soon.

The menu of choices also allows Delicious Brands to sell to an array of retailers. Habitat, for example, is a snug fit with the upscale environment at Linens ’n Things. Bath Basics and Spalicious fit into bath departments at chain drugstores and mass doors.

Rather than opt for the very flowery and heavily scented products associated with the mass market, all of the packaging for Delicious Brands is simple and straightforward.

What’s unique about Habitat is that it features home fragrances as an alternative to candles. A reed diffuser absorbs oil, which is then dispersed into the air. Booth’s, with a tag line “for over three decades” referring to Booth’s age, features bath and body for the entire family. “Booth’s has a real cult following, especially the walnut body scrub and cleanser,” said Booth. Bath Basics ranges from lavender to aid in sleeping to sage for rejuvenation. Spalicious creates the feeling of a spa or salon at a reasonable price for the home. And 3 in 1 is a bubble bath, shower gel and shampoo in one. Prices for all lines range from $8.99 to $12.99.Booth thinks bath and body sales are stalled because of the sameness of the offering. “Retailers coming into our room at a trade show were happy to see something fresh. There is so much sameness,” she said.

She’s no stranger to the bath and body business. Booth and a partner launched State of Mind in the late Nineties, one of the first bath lines to bring spa quality to the mass market. State of Mind was perhaps ahead of its time and although sales goals were reached, the brand was sold to Mana Products in 1999 and eventually phased out. Booth also helped build a following for Bradford Soap.

Booth is confident she has the right lineup with Delicious Brands. Industry sources estimate the company’s sales have doubled since last year and should expand by 20 percent by the end of 2005. “I saw that it was hard for shoppers to shop the category in a sea of products. I wanted to provide the basics to make it easy,” said Booth. She’s planning to launch some equally simple-to-shop skin care via starter kits this year.

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While Delicious Brands seeks to fill a hole in mass market bath, Once Removed is hoping to build upon the success of its Once Removed brush-on, wipe-off nail polish remover. Once Removed is the only company to have an odorless nail polish remover on the market. Now it is introducing the Nail Polish Remover Pen with Treatment Serum and a Cuticle Pusher Pen with Treatment Serum. The Nail Polish Remover Pen is the first product to remove nail enamel with no harsh chemicals that create noxious fumes. The Cuticle Pusher Pen incorporates the healthy cuticles serum formula containing natural oils and vitamins and soothes the outer nail layer, absorbing quickly into the skin. The Nail Polish Remover pen retails for $3.99 and the Cuticle Pusher Pen for $4.99.

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Walgreen’s is adding 30 Sempre/HCD hair color machines to stores in May, while Jean Coutu is now in negotiations to add an additional 25 machines to their stores. Several European drugstores are beginning to test the hair color machines, which allow users to customize their hair color in-store.

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