Bath Treats Garner Both Retail and Spa Appeal

ME Bath, the Los Angeles-based bath and body care company, known primarily for its ice cream version of bath fizz, is segmenting its retail and spa products.

ME Bath products.

ME Bath believes that two lines are better than one.

This story first appeared in the August 1, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Los Angeles-based bath and body care company, known primarily for its ice cream version of bath fizz, is segmenting its retail and spa products. The segmentation is intended to allow ME Bath to boost its retail presence, while maintaining an extensive spa network that values uniqueness.

“We are finding that more and more spas are becoming more selective about the lines that they carry,” said Benjamin Nissanoff, who founded ME Bath with his wife, Lisa, in 2002, and acts as its chief executive officer. “We want customers to recognize that it is still ME Bath, but this [spa] line is specially designed for the spa market, and it is talking to them in a different setting and environment.”

Designed in-house, the ME Bath Spa products, which started rolling out last month, contain spa insignias and are packaged in recyclable containers with a pearlized effect to appear elegant. The concentration of ingredients such as jojoba oil and vitamins A, C and E are elevated in the spa formulas, with percentages doubling and tripling compared with the retail items depending on the product.

The spa products will be sold at a 10 to 20 percent premium over the retail products. For instance, Nissanoff estimated ME Bath’s 16-oz. scrub would be $28 at retail versus $32 to $35 at a spa. Spas offering the ME Bath Spa line are required to provide ME Bath ice-cream treatments such as manicures or pedicures.

“If you are spending $100 to $130 on a pedicure in a spa, you are going to want everything that’s wrapped into it to be worth what you are spending,” he said. “If you take something home [from ME Bath], it is not a watered-down version of what you experience.”

ME Bath products are currently available at roughly 500 spas worldwide, including the Ritz-Carlton, the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, Canyon Ranch in Las Vegas and New York’s Hotel Gansevoort, and 3,000 retail doors, including Bath & Body Works, Sephora, C.O. Bigelow, Dillard’s and Nordstrom. Industry sources approximate that ME Bath generates in excess of $6 million in annual sales, split about 60 to 40 percent between spas and retail doors, respectively.

The brand’s sweet spot is the bath ice cream, which ME Bath prices online at $8 each and asserts is the number-one selling bath fizz on the market. There are some 35 flavors or fragrances to choose from now, and the brand releases about six a year, one of the latest being an “American as Apple Pie” flavor for election season. The ice-cream bath scoops take about three days to craft.

Beginning in the fourth quarter of this year, Nissanoff said, “We are in a growth phase where we are going to be expanding the spa and the retail market. Our hopes are that by dividing the two brands, we are helping both sides of the equation.” He projects that the number of retail doors carrying ME Bath products will at least double in the next year and that the brand could reach $30 million in retail sales in five years.

As characterized by the ice-cream bath products, ME Bath distinguishes itself from cosmeceuticals by presenting consumers — its 18- to 35-year-old target demographic particularly — pampering at a time when the market is awash in problem-oriented products. “They want to buy something that is going to make them feel good about themselves,” said Nissanoff of spa goers. “When you walk into a spa, you don’t want everything to be clinical.”