PARIS -- Like many beauty giants, the health of L'Oreal can be gauged by its flow of new products. Last year's launch tally was 60 different lines, a staggering number by any industry standard.
Here, some new brands to watch.
Start by Laboratoires Garnier: L'Oreal's entry into the budding men's men's treatment market debuted in February on French mass-market shelves and will roll out to selected European markets by the end of the year.
The Laboratoires Garnier brand, which includes toiletries, sun care and hair care lines, eventually will come to the U.S., according to Guy Peyrelongue, president and chief executive officer of the New York-based Cosmair, Inc. The brand, he said, would give Cosmair a lower-priced alternative in the mass market. "The products have great quality, but they're more affordable than L'Oreal."
Helena Rubinstein: After completing its acquisition of the brand in 1988, L'Oreal yanked Rubinstein from the shelves, then set about reinventing the brand.
Today, Rubinstein skin care, makeup and sun care products boast striking, upscale packaging, sophisticated advertising and prices 10 percent above Lancome. The real test will be Rubinstein's homecoming to the U.S.
Lindsay Owen-Jones, chairman and chief executive officer of L'Oreal, said, "It's difficult to determine just how long we'll feel we have to wait until the memories of Helena Rubinstein in the mass market have gone away sufficiently for us to be able to relaunch it in U.S. department stores."
Capital Soleil by Vichy Laboratoires: Although there are numerous sun filters for UVB rays, which cause sunburn, there are very few that protect effectively against UVA rays, which cause photo-aging. In 1982, L'OrÄal researchers developed a new anti-UVA molecule -- Mexoryl-SX. However, it took nine years to get European Community authorization and it is still waiting for U.S. approval. Last year it was put to use in Capital Soleil. The Vichy pharmacy brand does 97 percent of its business in Europe. But executives believe there's worldwide potential.
Biotherm: In 1992, Cosmair restricted the brand's distribution to the Miami-based Burdines. Worldwide, Biotherm was given updated packaging and a new ad campaign to emphasize nature and simplicity, an apparent answer to the industry's New Age marketing trend. Price points have been cut in some world markets, including the U.S. Owen-Jones predicts, "You'll see a lot more Biotherm in the States."Peyrelongue said Cosmair is planning to expand Biotherm's distribution to an additional department store chain.
Oui-Non by Kookai: L'Oreal has ruled out children's fragrances, but has no qualms about going after the toddler's teenage sister. Oui-Non is L'Oreal's most sophisticated effort yet to woo the elusive teenybopper customer. Launched in the French mass market in July, it had 1993 sales of 40 million francs and is set to be rolled out in Europe this year. It follows the 1991 launch of a Naf Naf scent.
Both are part of the company's scheme to grow its mass-market fragrance business.
"We're beginning to understand how to develop something approximately equivalent to the [U.S.] Vanderbilt type of franchise in the rest of the world," Owen-Jones said. "The big difficulty is that the brands that appeal in this mass-but-quality-fragrance business are not really very often worldwide brands. But even if Kookai clothes didn't come to the U.S. for a long time, who says that the Kookai kind of madness in advertising and way of talking to kids couldn't be translated into something attractive for American teenagers?"
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