By  on February 5, 2010

The emergence of a major force on the global beauty stage could herald a battle of titans as Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Company prepares to roll out one of its largest antiaging breakthroughs since Retinol. The significance of the move is twofold: It serves as a shot across the bow of mass market giant Procter & Gamble with its wildly successful Olay franchise, and accelerates channel shifting as former department store customers opt to buy their skin care in drugstores.

The engine of this transformation is a new technology that allows the benefits of bioelectricity, which has previously been used in wound care, to be applied to the beauty arena, and could generate $65 million in global sales in the first year alone, according to sources. Retailers are already lauding J&J’s new products, which will be interpreted under its three mass beauty skin care brands, Aveeno, Neutrogena and RoC, and sold in kits, priced from $24.99 to $49.99.

Elisa Bean, senior category manager for skin care at CVS Pharmacy, said J&J’s patented version of the bioelectricity technology, called Cytomimic, will not likely realize cannibalization, but rather a higher-end consumer looking for the benefits of a new technology.

“Like [Procter & Gamble’s] Olay Pro-X, we expect that new shoppers, who are likely coming from an alternative channel like a department store or specialty store, are going to be attracted to the new technology and innovation story and will be impressed with the results,” she said.

Brian Falcone, vice president of Sales Strategy at J&J Beauty Care, cited a shift in the mass market, one that “strategically, J&J sees [in regard to antiaging skin care] as a source for future growth. Over time, you see consumer willingness to continue toward the mass market. That has been a trend, the migration from department stores and high-end boutiques into the mass class of trade. That will continue since [consumers] have established it as a habit. They will find that [mass market beauty care] is commensurate. We think the category will grow organically because of technology, but the mass market will grow because of the habits driven by the economy,” he said.

Although the prestige market scored a 5 percent increase in skin care sales in December, the line between mass and class continues to blur in favor of the broad market as more and more technological breakthroughs appear in popular-priced products.

“In skin care specifically, the consumer is very concerned about results and benefits. They will go where the benefits are,” said Karen Grant of The NPD Group, adding global sales of prestige skin care are “having challenges and that part of it is due to pharmacy brands or even mass oriented brands that are available in European markets.” NPD data also shows that for 2009, “higher price points in mass are selling better” than in previous years.

As launches such as Cytomimic provide an opportunity for mass retailers to be first-to-market with new technology and higher price points, the likelihood of the category growing increases. It also helps J&J boost its overall share of the category, which, according to the company, is at 31.6 percent for total facial care and 23 percent for antiaging within total facial care.

May Shana, vice president of research and development for J&J Beauty Care, explained the technology behind Cytomimic, saying it harnesses the power of the body’s own innate bioelectricity signaling system to generate energy to the surface layers of the skin to stimulate the renewal process.

“The way it works is by reminding the body to do what it does best. Sometimes you need a bit of a shake to remind the skin to do what it does. Zinc and copper are the battery and they get together and produce a small current to help the skin. They are also essential minerals in the skin,” said Shana.

Each kit requires users to follow a two-step system, by first applying a serum or gel that contains the bioelectricity technology and then immediately applying a cream that contains ingredients that help activate the first one. Shana acknowledged that previous two-step carnations in beauty haven’t been successful for a good reason.

“There has never been a two-step technology that was clear why it was two steps,” Shana said. “Many people know there is a reason to cleanse and moisturize. But there has not really been anything that explains why [a two-step] is not a gimmick. This is different because it is fundamentally the truth. You have to activate the Cytomimic technology. It is not optional.”

Each brand has tailored the technology to meet the needs of its respective consumers.

The RoC Brilliance kit carries the biggest and most pronounced claims, with clinicals that show antiaging improvements around the eye area in as little as three days. RoC, which pioneered the stabilization of Retinol in 1995, uses E-Pulse, a patented technology, in an Activating Serum, which is meant to be applied first. The second step, the application of a Boosting Complex that contains antiaging ingredients, then triggers ion-mineral conductors in the Serum to rejuvenate the look of skin. RoC Brilliance includes three treatment systems. There’s the Eye Beautifier, which asks the user to apply the Activating Serum around the entire eye area, followed by the Beautifying Crème. There’s also the RoC Brilliance Day Rejuvenating Moisturizer SPF 20, which entails applying the Activating Serum all over the face immediately followed by the Rejuvenating Crème SPF 20. Then there’s RoC Brilliance Night Recharging Moisturizer, which uses the Activating Serum followed by the Recharging Crème. Each kit will sell for $49.99.

The Aveeno Ageless Vitality uses natural ingredients with the Cytomimic technology to get antiaging results. This system contains a blend of naturally charged biominerals, such as zinc and copper, in a Biomineral Concentrate, which, when combined with an antiaging moisturizer containing ingredients such as blackberry leaf extract and dill, builds elastin and “restores energy to elastin-deficient skin.”There are three kits available under the Aveeno brand, as well, one targeting eyes, and one for day with SPF 30 and one for night. The Aveeno kits will sell for $39.99.

Neutrogena Clinical contains a multipatented Ion 2 Complex in a Gel Serum that J&J said when combined with an Activating Cream fortified with Tetrol-E, aims to smooth and refine skin over time. A Facial Lifting Wrinkle Treatment SPF 30, Eye Lift Contouring Treatment, Lifting Wrinkle Treatment Starter System SPF 30 and Eye and Facial Lifting Wrinkle Treatment Night are available with all except the Starter kit selling for $24.99; the Starter kit will sell for $34.99.

Falcone admits that “one of the most difficult objectives to overcome once [retailers] saw it was how [the technology] could be differentiated from each equity. We assured them it will [become clear] based on the equity that is supporting it. As the selling process went on they saw more of that, especially with packaging and consumer communication vehicles.”

CVS’ Bean admits “at first we were” concerned about the launch of all three brands at once, “however, each of the three launches is positioned very differently, targeting very different consumer needs. RoC targets brightening, Neutrogena targets lifting and increasing collagen levels, while Aveeno uses natural minerals to improve the skin’s own natural elastin production. The base technology is the same, however they each deliver unique propositions to the consumer, which, in our experience, is the right recipe for success.”

A complete TV and print advertising campaign will help promote the products. Additionally, J&J has tapped dermatologist Melanie Grossman to educate beauty editors about the technology. Investment in packaging was chosen over building fixtures and new merchandising sets, said Falcone. “The packaging does a great job at building a billboard at shelf. It tells such a great story. I didn’t overinvest in permanent racks. We wanted to spend much more money on the packaging. We saw Pro-X do a lot of work in [permanent racks and merchandising vehicles] but [ours] didn’t need as much of a boost as others have.”

Falcone said he doesn’t see the brands as a target to anyone else in the marketplace and the only connection with this launch and other high-profile launches is the relative pricing.

“I don’t see a target of this technology to Olay or Pro-X. But it will be interesting to see how it grows and where it sources from. We are not into exchanging share, but drawing more in,” he said.

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