NEW YORK -- In the sun care business, form can be as important as function.
That will be part of the message next month when Estee Lauder USA introduces two new nonchemical sunscreens in popular spray form, along with a sun block pour for children.
A Sunfilter Lotion Spray and Sunblock Lotion Spray SPF 15, each priced at $18.50 for 4.25 ounces, will be shipped to stores in April, along with the Baby Block Lotion for Children SPF 25, at $19.50 for 4.25 ounces.
Muriel Gonzalez, senior vice president of marketing, estimated that the three additions to the 15-stockkeeping-unit sun care line will spark a volume increase in "the low double digits."
Although Gonzalez did not elaborate, sources estimate that Lauder's sun protection business -- excluding self-tanners -- totaled about $11 million to $12 million at wholesale last year. A 10 to 13 percent increase could push volume past $13 million.
Dianne Osborne, vice president of treatment marketing, said Lauder would phase out three of the lower SPF products -- SPF 4 for the face and SPF 8 for the face and body -- to make room in the line for the new items.
Peter B. Lichtenthal, executive director of marketing in treatment, noted that 75 percent of the business is done in products of SPF 15 and higher.
A year ago, Lauder overhauled its sun protection line with an updated technology and hefty claims to match. Last year's relaunch, called Advanced Suncare, differed sharply from Lauder's previous products.
The key addition in last year's update was titanium dioxide, which blocks radiation without the need for chemicals, which Lauder says avoids the danger of irritation.
This year, Lauder managed to make the titanium dioxide formula work with a spray dispenser, a difficult trick, according to Daniel Maes, vice president of research at Estee Lauder worldwide. Lauder accomplished this by micronizing the titanium dioxide into tiny particles and coating them with lipids to prevent clumping, Maes said.
In addition, antioxidants have been added to protect the skin from free radicals, Maes said, and cerebrosides have been incorporated to aid moisturization.
The titanium dioxide formula was designed to provide what the company claims is unusually uniform "parallel protection," designed to equally block UVB, UVA and infrared radiation.Having the formula is one thing. Making it easy to use is another.
"We have the technology," said Robin Burns, president and chief executive officer of the division. "But we want better and better esthetics."
At Bloomingdale's, Arnold Orlick, executive vice president, said because of the ease of application, sprays "are going to be very big this year."
Without revealing budgets, Lauder said it will advertise in some national magazines, but mostly it will run co-op newspaper ads in about 98 markets. Mailers will be sent out, offering free 1.5-oz. samples of sun rehydrator, in 60 markets. At least 100,000 samples of the SPF 15s will be handed out.
In an unrelated development, Estee Lauder Cos. said that on July 1, the Lauder division will take over the marketing of Tuscany Per Donna, a women's fragrance launched by the Aramis division early last year.
Robert A. Nielsen, Aramis president, said the move will enable his division to focus on its core men's fragrance and skin care business, including the 1995 launch of the Tommy Hilfiger fragrance.
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