By  on December 3, 2004

NEW YORK — Clinique wants a kinder, gentler shave.

To that end, the Estée Lauder Cos.’ 28-year-old grooming collection, Clinique Skin Supplies for Men, will be repositioned in the spring to emphasize a link between skin care and shaving.

“The focus is on shaving as it pertains to the skin,” said Agnes Landau, vice president of global hair, fragrance, holiday, men’s skin care, body and sun marketing for Clinique. “From there it links to skin care — you can’t have one without the other. Shaving affects the skin [and] we’ll speak at the counter [in the] context of healing the skin.”

Beginning in March internationally — and in April in the U.S. — eight items are to be added to Skin Supplies. Two items will be dropped from the assortment, which will eventually contain 22 stockkeeping units in the U.S.

The rationalization of the brand is expected to help boost global retail sales of Skin Supplies by about 20 percent to $86 million, according to industry sources. The U.S. market, where the products will be merchandised at Clinique’s existing counters in 2,200 doors, accounts for about half of sales.

In North America, Skin Supplies hovers at about $27 million in retail sales. It is said to have a 40 percent share of the prestige men’s skin care market in the U.S., ahead of Aramis’ Lab Series — which is also marketed by Lauder — Shiseido’s Zirh Skin Nutrition, Clarins Men and Anthony Logistics for Men.

Internationally, Skin Supplies is a leader in the U.K. market, where per-capita usage of men’s grooming products is said to outpace the U.S. market by a 2-to-1 ratio, according to Landau. Skin Supplies is carried in about 30 countries overall and 18 sku’s are distributed abroad. Travel retail is Skin Supplies’ third-largest distribution arena behind the U.S. and the U.K.

“The idea is to continue to lead in terms of Clinique,” Landau said of the Skin Supplies relaunch.

Among the new Skin Supplies items will be a Post-Shave Soother Beard Control Formula, which purportedly minimizes the appearance of beard growth by reducing the diameter of whiskers, Landau noted. There’s also Maximum Hydrator, which claims to “minimize fine lines.” Another post-shave product fights acne using acetyl glucosamine and salicylic acid. The assortment will range in price from $10 for deodorant, face soap and Cream Shave, to $26 for Maximum Hydrator and Eye Treatment Formula.At-counter promotional materials for Skin Supplies will center on the loss of multiple epidermal layers during shaving. That loss, coupled with age-associated drops in the rate of collagen production, can yield a more dramatically aged appearance, according to Lauder research. Marketing materials will ask, “Is shaving taking away years from your skin?” Landau noted.

She maintained that while there’s been moderate growth in the men’s prestige treatment category for 15 years in the U.S., “We’ve definitely seen the market heating up in the last three to four years [and] the real double-digit growth began in fall 2003.” Discussing the timing of the relaunch, Landau said, the men’s market “hasn’t seen its top. Growth is yet to come.”

For the 12 months ended in June, the men’s skin care market in department stores reached the $56 million mark in retail volume, according to industry estimates, up 16 percent.

National print advertising in magazines like GQ, Cargo and Men’s Health will support Skin Supplies next year in the U.S. Whereas print advertising for the $2 billion Clinique brand is often copy-free with iconic product shots, ads for Skin Supplies will feature the same heroic imagery but, Landau noted, phrasing will be designed to satiate the male appetite for product information.

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