By and  on December 10, 2010

The mass market’s power beauty players — Johnson & Johnson, Coty and Alberto Culver — expect their star brands to heat up sales with several key launches planned for 2011: Neutrogena Naturals, Sally Hansen Nail Strips and Nexxus ProMend, respectively.

Making a play for the naturals market is Neutrogena, which said that despite the category’s existence in drugstores for more than 10 years, an opportunity exists in targeting the consumer who isn’t pleased with what’s on shelves.

Company research showed that “only 37 percent of consumers believe that beauty products containing natural ingredients are as effective as nonnatural products,” said Susan Sweet, general manager of Neutrogena Corp.

Neutrogena Naturals, hitting shelves in January, includes a pore scrub, a face and body bar, a face cleanser, a makeup remover and a lip balm — and is Neutrogena’s first new platform in 10 years. Items have been formulated to be between 86 percent and 100 percent natural, with “a small percentage” of synthetics in formulas — however it is free of sulfates, parabens, petrochemicals, dyes and phthalates. The line, which uses packaging made from 50 percent postconsumer recycled content, looks to take advantage of some of the weaknesses presented by the category’s smaller brands, namely availability, as many natural brands have a tight distribution; price, as Naturals is priced at $8 and below, and brand stability, as many of the niche brands in the category find it tough to compete at retail.

While sales of facial-cleansing products only nudged up 2.7 percent for the most recent 52-week period ended Oct. 3, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm, other categories, such as nail polish, are enjoying some of the most vibrant sales growth in recent years. According to The Nielsen Co., dollar sales for nail polish in food, drug and mass doors including Wal-Mart rose 5.3 percent for the 52-week period ended Oct. 30, to almost $140.8 million. Sally Hansen — the number-one selling brand — outpaces that growth. But to stay on top against new, edgy competitors, the company eyed salon trends seeking a look that consumers could duplicate at home. The result: Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips.

Salon Effects are strips imbedded with actual nail polish. They can be applied at home (or even taken to the salon for application). The process is relatively simple, involving peeling off a protective shield, fitting the nail and then filing. Salon Effects mimics the end result of salon nail-color application. Minx, which has been made popular by countless celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, requires heat to set the look, can cost upward of $50 per application and can be a lengthy process.

“Minx is very big, and we’ve found a way to allow women to do it at home for much less,” said Annette Devita, vice president of marketing for the Sally Hansen Group. “We looked at how we can translate Minx at home.”

The strips are DBP-, toluene- and formaldehyde-free and last 10 days. The designs are fashionable and include shiny neon, high-shine metallic and patterns. The pricing is $9.99, and the product hits shelves in March. Each kit contains 16 nail-polish strips, a cuticle stick, a mini file-buffer and instructions. The extra strips allow for consumers to experiment with the size and allow for mistakes; the strips are odorless and don’t need to dry. While the nail industry has tried many gimmicks to build upon traditional nail-polish sales, such as nail pens and stickers, Devita believes this is a true breakthrough that will create a whole new category within nail color. Salon Effects will be launched via prepack counter displays and will be part of the upcoming Sally Hansen advertising campaign, as well.

Company officials believe the strips could generate as much in sales as a new color cosmetics launch. In drugstores alone, Sally Hansen and NYC colors ring up in excess of $102 million, according to SymphonyIRI, and combined the brands are expanding more than 36 percent.

Another category that thrives on innovation, hair care has seen most brands focusing on taming frizz or preserving color. But the folks at Nexxus have lasered in on addressing one of the category’s mainstay problems: split ends. ProMend, which is being positioned as the biggest launch — from a research and development standpoint — in Nexxus’ history, and the biggest tech advancement from Alberto Culver for the year, is being billed as the first-to-market split-end technology. According to Michael Wright at Nexxus, ProMend, which consists of a shampoo, conditioner, several treatment items and a styling mist that protects hair from thermal damage, binds 92 percent of damaged ends back together in just one use. The technology in ProMend that makes split ends mend, according to Wright, is a complex of positively and negatively charged polymers, which first stick to negatively charged hair and then stick to each other to help bind ends back together.

The hero item in the line, Targeted Leave-in Treatment Créme, is said to bind 92 percent of damaged ends back together in just one use, while the conditioner binds 86 percent of split ends back together in just three washes.

ProMend is available in mass stores beginning in January and will sell for between $9.99 and $14.99.

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