Jafra Unites Science and Botanicals

Simple yet complex is direct sales company Jafra Cosmetics International's battle cry for its new skin care line.

Simple yet complex is direct sales company Jafra Cosmetics International’s battle cry for its new skin care line.

This story first appeared in the July 27, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Jafra Dynamics, which launched in Mexico this month and will be unleashed to the U.S. and Europe in August, replaces its four-year-old mix-and-match skin care line — Technology, Beauty and Service, or TBS. And it brings the Westlake Village, Calif.-based company’s formulations up to date by combining science-driven ingredients with natural botanicals and ayurvedic herbs.

“I get bombarded with a lot of new technology. It is one thing to put out something new, but in order to make it work for our sales field, I gave it a little bit more thought,” said Pragna Chakravarti, chief scientific officer and vice president of worldwide research and development for Jafra. “The basis of this line is to keep what was working for us and then create a system that will be highly advanced technologically, but consumer friendly.”

Jafra Dynamics’ 16 products are categorized into four groups to clarify dermal maintenance: Balance Dynamics for combination skin, Hydration Dynamics for dry skin, Control Dynamics for oily skin and Calming Dynamics for sensitive skin. Each group comprises a $14 cleanser, $15 toner, $18 day cream and $20 night cream. Products and packaging are color-coded: Dry is light pink; combination, peach; oily, pale green, and sensitive’s packaging is blue with white contents.

Jafra, which sells its products through some 500,000 consultants, is careful about the language it uses to describe its skin care offerings. Instead of forcing consultants to relate a laundry list of ingredients to consumers, the company has lumped ingredients for the different skin conditions into complexes that are easier to communicate. “We call it the TULS approach: easy to ‘Teach,’ easy to ‘Use,’ easy to ‘Learn’ and easy to ‘Sell,'” explained Chakravarti. “We talk about high-tech science from the resources of nature.”

For instance, the combination skin products contain a Controlsmart complex with amino compounds, tea tree extract and ayurvedic plant extracts. Similarly, there’s Sensismart complex for sensitive skin, Hydrasmart complex for dry skin and Equalsmart complex for combination skin. Across the complexes, oat extracts, seaweed, iris flowers and ayurvedic plant blends are key ingredients.

In addition to the complexes, the entire Jafra Dynamics line features Intellishield, a technology Chakravarti said lays down an “invisible film” made from seaweed that thrives in hot thermal vents off the coast of Brittany in France and an anchoring sugar molecule. “It is a decoy almost,” she said. “It behaves like a second skin protecting the skin underneath [from] environmental aggressors.”

The Jafra Dynamics name and formulations will be the same everywhere Jafra is available. The company tested the items on hundreds of consumers over about two years to ensure it suited several nationalities. The result was subtle nature-identical fragrances that satisfy those who don’t like fragrance, and Mexicans, who usually prefer more pungent products. The products aren’t quite as heavy as Germans might like, but still “feel rich” due to liquid crystal emulsifiers, according to Chakravarti.

Jafra Dynamics comes at a crucial period for the company. Although the company regularly cycles in new products every two months, the line represents the first major skin care launch since Jafra was sold by New York private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc. to German direct-selling vacuum and kitchen company Vorwerk & Co. in 2004. The company, founded in 1956 by Jan and Frank Day, who combined their names to spell Jafra, was owned by The Gillette Co. from 1973 to 1998.

“When were part of Gillette, it was a little bit conservative. The time to develop the product was the same if it was a line extension or something like [Jafra Dynamics],” said Chakravarti. “The downside was that we would miss trends. Our competitors would be out there, and we would say, ‘We should have been there.'”

Jafra Dynamics also is being released just as Frank Mineo is beginning to warm to the chief executive officer post. Mineo, who assumed the role earlier this month after the retirement of Eugenio Lopez-Barrio, stressed that Jafra must expand in the U.S., where it only sells in nine states, and reach out to a younger audience. Mexico is Jafra’s largest market, and its customer base primarily consists of women in their 40s and older.

Jafra Dynamics is aimed at women in their 20s to 40s. Chakravarti noted that these women are savvy about products and desire the latest ingredients and modern packaging. Jafra has streamlined its logo in the Jafra Dynamics packaging to add a touch of sleekness and femininity the company believes will appeal to new customers.

In fiscal year 2006, Jafra generated $493 million in net sales, up 13 percent from $436 million in the prior year. That increase is consistent with the high-single-digit to low-double-digit growth rate the company has experienced for the last several years.

“Getting to the customers is what really builds opportunity,” said Mineo. “In the cosmetics or skin care world, customers become really loyal to the product. You have to continue to keep them engaged with you by bringing them new or innovative products.”