NEW YORK -- Cabot Laboratories Inc. wants consumers to take their vitamins. But the company also wants to make sure the concept won't be hard to swallow.These vitamins will be applied to the skin as ingredients in a new line of moisturizers, called Vitamines. The six-item line will be launched in June and is expected to roll out to roughly 6,000 mass doors by the end of the year.The premise behind Vitamines is that some skin conditions are caused by vitamin deficiencies. The version for dry skin, for example, contains Vitamin E plus Vitamin F, which, the company claims, protects and strengthens the skin's upper layer to help it better retain natural moisture.There are also formulas to treat sun-damaged skin, sensitive skin, oily and normal or combination skin. Each contains a different mixture of vitamins plus Vitamin E, an anti-oxidant, which, the company says, combats free radicals.Each 4-oz. tube will have a suggested retail price of $6.95. Trial sizes with $1.50 price points and a 50-cent coupon for a full-sized product will be on counter in May.At the same time, the company is repackaging its 20-year-old Vitamin E line of 10 skin care products to give it a more upscale appearance."Vitamins are a multi-billion industry that are sold in drugstores, so the mass market consumer is definitely familiar with the concept and is becoming even more aware of it," said Pam Fields, president of Cabot."We are repacking Vitamin E to give it a clearer positioning," she added. "I'm really not sure that people knew if we existed before. It seemed like whatever business we did was done by accident."To support the launch of Vitamines and overhaul of Vitamin E, the company is planning its debut as a national advertiser.According to Fields, who declined to comment on sales or advertising figures, the company will break a joint print ad for both brands in August issues of Glamour and Ladies Home Journal that will run for three months.It will also run a spot radio campaign in New York, Chicago, Washington, Detroit, Los Angeles and Atlanta, intermittently throughout the rest of the year.Industry sources estimated that Cabot is spending $1.5 million to $2 million on the campaign.The company will also sample two million of its products through dermatologists this year. According to Fields, the bulk of the sampling will be put behind Vitamines.Cabot expects Vitamines to do half the volume of its Vitamin E line in the first year. Last year Vitamin E had a wholesale volume of $10 million to $15 million, sources said.The Vitamin E line, which is distributed in 12,000 mass doors, is also expected to get a sales boost."We think that through the repackaging we should attract a new consumer who might not have known about us before," Fields said. "We are expecting this, along with the new advertising and new in-store merchandising to increase Vitamin E's sales by as much as 20 percent."That would give Vitamin E a wholesale volume of $12 million to $18 million.
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