By  on January 16, 2009

Bliss’ position: Even a global recession shouldn’t cause anyone to let their skin go. And they’re putting their money where their mouths are, with a lower-priced new moisturizer called Best of Skintentions.

The lightweight formula, intended as an everyday, all-in-one product, will be released in March. It will retail for $35 for 1.7 oz.

“On the product side, we’re seeing the strongest sales on lower-priced basics and do-it-yourself spa treatments like masks,” said Richard Dantas, president of Bliss. “It’s definitely the right time to for us to add an affordable everyday moisturizer to our offering. We expect Best of Skintentions to be our biggest launch this year.”

Key ingredients include a complex of vitamins A, C and E, intended to protect against antioxidant and environmental damage. A mineral-omega blend is intended to act as a protective topic barrier while nourishing skin with essential fatty acids. The formula’s SPF 15 is intended to block both UVA and UVB light. The product is also rated PA++, which is a protection grade against UVA.

“UVA is the longest and most harmful ray,” said Dantas. “It breaks down collagen and forms wrinkles under the epidermis that will ultimately reach the skin’s surface. This test is performed to see how deep the UVA will penetrate the skin and measures the interaction between UVA and melanin — there is PA+, PA++ and PA+++. Best of Skintentions has the second rating.”

Best of Skintentions will be available in about 500 specialty store doors in the U.S., including the Bliss Spas (where it will get a mid-February preview), Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Nordstrom and Bluemercury. The products are also sold on HSN, blissworld.com and through Bliss’ own catalog.

While Dantas declined to discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated that Best of Skintentions could do $5 million at retail in its first year on counter.

It’s been a busy 12 months for the brand, founded in 1996 by Marcia Kilgore and acquired by Starwood in 2004. Bliss has paid particular attention to the prestige skin care category over the last few years — including building a full youth collection from its Youth As We Know It Moisture Cream, launched in March 2007. In February 2008, the company added a cleanser, toner, concentrate and eye cream to the lineup. The company has also delved into men’s skin care with its Homme Improvement products.

The spas often spark ideas for new products, noted Dantas. “Since launching in-spa treatments tied to at-home products, Bliss has changed the industry of the at-home spa,” he said. “This spa-inspired messaging has been infused at every level — packaging, point of sale, direct channels. Bliss’ spa experience is transformed into products.”

For instance, the $52 Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask, launched in 2006, was inspired by the popularity of the spa’s top treatment, the $160 Triple Oxygen Treatment Facial. The mask is now ranked within the company’s top three products, he noted.

In addition to Bliss’ three Manhattan locations, the company operates Bliss Spas in Los Angeles, London, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Hong Kong. Next up: doors in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Hoboken, N.J., and Doha, Qatar.

The brand is also seeing success from its hotel amenity business, he noted. After the Starwood deal was completed, Bliss began offering a six-pack with mini sizes of the company’s best-selling products. In 2007, Bliss launched Tried+Blue amenities in Aloft Hotels. Last year, Shine by Bliss, an exclusive for Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, and Heavenly Spa, for the Westin chain, were introduced. As well, the company has worked since 2006 with JetBlue to provide amenity sets — dubbed Shut Eye Kits — for its overnight flights.

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