By and  on October 14, 2011

PARIS — YSL Beauté has spent the past two years tapping into parent company L’Oréal’s treatment expertise in preparation to make its mark with a new YSL skin care proposition due out starting in January.

“YSL has unfortunately never become the major player in skin care. It is in fragrance and makeup,” explained Renaud de Lesquen, president of YSL Beauté, which includes the YSL beauty brand. “This launch marks the grand return of YSL into skin care with a major innovation from L’Oréal Research that has never been used in a skin care application before.”

The result, Forever Youth Liberator, is a line based on glycobiology — the science of glycans — and the discovery by scientists that with age the number of glycans in the skin diminishes, hindering skin’s regeneration. The development of products that take this discovery as their basis depended on the finding of glycan synthesis.

For the formulation of Forever Youth Liberator, L’Oréal developed a patented trio of synthetic glycans, called Glycanactif, which it claims improves communication between cells, restructures skin tissues and regenerates the dermal-epidermal junction to decrease the most common signs of skin aging.

“Skin glycans are cellular keys to youthfulness,” said Dr. Bruno Bernard, a research fellow at L’Oréal. “Aging is characterized by an alteration of glycan quality and quantity.”

The new YSL skin care line is aimed at women over 30 and consists of a core product — a serum packed with actives — as well as a cleansing mousse, lotion, cream, rich cream, eye cream and SPF 15 cream and lotion, each with lesser concentrations of the same glycan complex. The serum and under-eye cream both have different versions with textures adapted to the Asian market. And the company has developed a cosmetic water especially for Japanese women.

Prices in France range from 45 euros for the 150-ml. cleansing mousse to 80 euros for the 50-ml. cream, or $59 to $106, respectively, at current exchange. The 30-ml. serum costs 76 euros, or $100.

The company hopes that through the launch of Forever Youth Liberator, starting in January in Europe and Japan followed by the U.S. in March, YSL will become a top-five global cosmetics brand.

“You cannot do that without being very strong in all three segments — fragrance, makeup and skin care,” said de Lesquen.

Treatment currently represents approximately 5 percent of the YSL brand’s sales, with the remainder split almost equally between fragrance and makeup — although fragrance’s share is slightly larger. When Forever Youth Liberator has carved its niche in the market —within the next three years, YSL executives hope — de Lesquen’s ambition is for a more balanced weight among all three.

YSL executives would not divulge sales projections, but industry sources estimate that in its first year, the Forever Youth Liberator line will generate $60 million in wholesale revenues. Market sources also calculate that $15 million of that sales total will be generated in the U.S.

The launch will notably allow the brand to widen its appeal in Asia, among L’Oréal’s key growth zones, where skin care generates some 65 percent of overall beauty sales, according to de Lesquen.

“YSL is overdependent on Europe, which represents more than half of its revenues,” he added.

Part of that drive will also involve the relaunch of the brand as a whole in several Asian countries, since at the time of YSL Beauté’s acquisition by L’Oréal in 2008, its portfolio was carried through distributors in many markets.

“One of the most important aspects of the takeover has been the integration of distribution,” explained de Lesquen. “We have gone from 20 to 52 subsidiaries for YSL in the past three years.”

This involves, to a certain extent, relaunching the brand in each market. In July 2012, YSL will reenter Singapore and Malaysia. September will mark its relaunch in South Korea, and in early 2013, the brand “will pull out all the stops in China,” revealed de Lesquen.

At launch, the Forever Youth Liberator line is to be promoted with single- and double-page advertisements focusing on the serum in specialized beauty magazines.

“The ads will highlight the scientific discovery of the role of glycans in skin aging,” said de Lesquen. “There will be no Hollywood endorsement. The focus is on the science and the product.”

An important sampling initiative, both in the press and at point of sale, will also accompany the introduction.

In the U.S., the skin care line will be launched in about 300 specialty store doors — including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom — where YSL is strong in makeup. Marc Rey, president of international designer collections in the Luxury Products Division of L’Oréal USA, said the launch will be preceded by a strong teaser campaign on the Internet. It will be accompanied by a striking merchandising statement at POS, as well as well-trained demonstrators armed with iPads programmed for the launch. The media push will be capped by a magazine advertising blitz. “We have been waiting for a long time for the launch of the YSL skin care line,” Rey said. “We are ready to show it and push it to the maximum.”

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