By  on January 28, 2011

Setting off another quake along the fragile fault line separating prestige and mass beauty distribution, skin care brand Kinerase has created a lower-priced offering called Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase, slated to enter selected Wal-Mart and Walgreens stores in February.

Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase gets its name from Dr. LeWinn’s Private Formula, a line atop the Australian premium skin care market founded by the late plastic surgeon Lawrence LeWinn. The company was acquired in a $74.5 million deal in 2009 by Kinerase parent Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.

Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase builds upon Dr. LeWinn’s medical heritage with ingredients Valeant believes advance skin care formulations at mass such as Dynalift, intended to tighten skin; Snap-8 peptide to address wrinkles, and Kinerase’s signature plant-derived wrinkle fighter and moisture booster Kinetin.

Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase will “bring to mass not only a dermatology perspective but a plastic-surgery perspective,” said Jen Smoot, marketing director for Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Valeant’s U.S. cosmeceuticals division. She added it will have “the latest ingredients that you find in department stores but don’t find outside of department stores until three of four years later.” Still, she noted that Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase products would have “only two to three cosmeceutical-grade ingredients” versus 10 to 12 in a Kinerase prestige product.

“We look forward to the launch of Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase,” said Carmen Bauza, vice president of beauty for Wal-Mart. “The arrival of the line at Wal-Mart reflects our commitment to listening to our customers and providing them with access to the quality brands that they want at affordable prices.”

Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase’s 10 initial products will be priced from $10 to $35, while most of the products in Kinerase’s prestige line sold at Ulta and Sephora and its Pro+Therapy line aimed at physicians are at least double that amount and regularly top $100.

According to Smoot, probable hero products in the Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase line are the Instant Dermal Wrinkle Filler she described as “the first product in mass with an instant wrinkle-erasing effect,” and three Lift & Resculpt products: Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream, Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream and Serum XK.

Kinerase, which has registered annual sales in the $21 million to $27 million range, has a lot to gain from a successful mass launch. Industry sources forecast Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase could generate at least $15 million in first-year retail sales, and Kinerase could benefit substantially from a higher profile. Smoot estimated 10 to 20 percent of skin care shoppers are currently aware of the brand.

In search of a broader audience at mass, however, the risk is that Kinerase could undermine its prestige sales.

Frédéric Fekkai is the poster child for the perils of breaching the mass-class divide. Sephora dropped Fekkai when the P&G-owned hair care brand decided to head to Target and Wal-Mart. Sephora declined to comment on whether Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase would impact Kinerase’s standing at its stores.

Smoot contended Kinerase’s mass and prestige businesses aren’t mutually exclusive. She said Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase would help “grow the overall Kinerase base.

“Our attempt is to continue to build all these lines. I think that multiple lines can exist,” said Smoot of the mass, professional and prestige branches of Kinerase.

Smoot said Kinerase’s entry into the mass market reflects the reality of multichannel shopping and current economic conditions.

“We want to be able to speak to women no matter what channel they are shopping in,” she said. “The women that we have spoken to say, ‘I used to buy everything at Sephora. Now I buy my C8 [Kinerase bestseller], but I can’t buy everything there.’”

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