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Freeman Expands Value Prices to Spa Items

NEW YORK — When the Hathi Group acquired the Freeman and Sarah Michaels hair, bath and body brands from the Dial Corp. last year, they got more than shower gel and shampoo. Kathy Alaama, the then director of Freeman, soon became part of the Hathi...

NEW YORK — When the Hathi Group acquired the Freeman and Sarah Michaels hair, bath and body brands from the Dial Corp. last year, they got more than shower gel and shampoo. Kathy Alaama, the then director of Freeman, soon became part of the Hathi Group, too. It seems that as the person who had just spent the better part of the previous year repositioning the brand, Alaama was eager to see how Freeman would fare in the marketplace. Besides, the acquisition by Hathi made her job at Dial disappear.

Now, just about a year since Alaama was named vice president of marketing for Freeman and Sarah Michaels — and since the streamlined Freeman portfolio hit stores — Alaama is unveiling several new Freeman bath and body products. She’s also launching a three-point marketing plan to bolster Freeman’s presence throughout the second half of the year. Freeman faces increased competition in the third and fourth quarters, notably by Ohm, a new bath and buy line from Procter & Gamble’s Olay brand.

To make sure consumers know what constitutes the Freeman brand now — Alaama slashed Freeman’s item count from 82 to 43 — the company launched advertorials last month in beauty magazines. Designed to educate consumers on the fundamentals of the Freeman product line, the advertorials described Freeman’s core beauty lineup, such as its scrubs, lotions and moisturizers.

This month the advertising blitz continues when the company drops national freestanding inserts touting its newest products, such as its body butters and sugar scrubs. In the fourth quarter, FSI’s will focus on Freeman’s avocado and oatmeal products, prime winter treatments.

“This new platform is the right direction for the brand and perhaps adds even more energy to the plan as it was originally conceptualized,” Alaama said.

In total, Freeman has slated more than $2.1 million to support the brand in the second half of the year. In terms of media advertising, expenditures amount to $900,000.

To date, sales of the Freeman products “have exceeded our sales goals, we have gained velocity at the shelf level and gained distribution at the account level,” said Alaama. According to data from Information Resources Inc, for the 52-week period ended May 19, sales of Freeman products dropped to $10.3 million, less than half of the $23.2 million it generated in the previous 52-week period. Sales figures exclude Wal-Mart.

Freeman is distributed in approximately 9,000 doors; Alaama said it is about to add an additional 4,000 doors.

The ads will also highlight Freeman’s eight new bath and body items, which are all new to the mass market, Alaama said. They include three varieties of travel-friendly pamper packs, two sugar scrubs and three body butters, and they are shipping to retailers now.

The pamper packs, an expanded take on trial-sized products, are Alaama’s way of introducing Freeman to consumers who are new to the brand. Each pack contains information on how to perform certain spa services at home, as well as product samples. For example, the spa facial pack includes step-by-step instructions on everything from water temperature to time allotted for each step, in order to guide the novice through a facial process. “They look like little books,” Alaama said.

The packs are also available for pedicures and body treatments and retail for $3.99.

Freeman’s Spa Sugar Body Polish items, Alaama asserts, are the first spa-type body polishes — admittedly inspired by two-phase prestige formulas — to hit the mass market. Their formulas, she said, are outstanding for their value price, $3.99. “It is the most competitively priced scrub out there.” Alaama added that Freeman didn’t skimp on ingredients, either. “Our sugar is less irritating and has inherent moisturizing qualities. The oil phase infuses botanical extracts. They are very rich and intense.” Fragrances for the spa sugar are Peace Maker, a combination of sunflower and vanilla, and For Heaven’s Silk, a blend of cucumber, melon and ginseng.

Alaama is cross marketing the body polish with Freeman’s hand lotions to communicate the product’s efficacy as a manicure treatment, too.

The Body Butter, Alaama, explains, continues Freeman’s quest of bringing prestige products to the masses. “As is our objective, we are the first to mass retail with [a variant on] the Body Shop’s body butter. It is a supercharged moisture therapy. Very intense,” Alaama said. The fragrances for the body butter are Peace Maker; Smootherapy, a blend of peach and pearberry, and Gotta Glow, a combination of blueberry and champagne. It also retails for $3.99.