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NEW YORK — Will King spends a lot of time thinking about how to exceed men’s grooming expectations.
Now at an estimated $35 million in the U.S., men’s specialty skin care’s seemingly endless sales potential — limited only by the male who will “never, ever try this stuff” — signaled to King that the industry has only just begun to meet men’s beauty needs.
With that in mind, King set out to target budding David Beckhams with products that go beyond the standard problem/solution formulations.
Coming Dec. 1 to 2,500 CVS stores is XCD, a five-item line King refers to as “discretionary facial enhancements.” In other words, XCD is the closest any mass market manufacturer has come to creating a true men’s beauty product line.
Although there’s no lipstick or mascara in the lineup — that will follow next fall — XCD could serve as a template for future male skin enhancement lines, challenging men’s skin care leaders Nivea and Neutrogena with the new segment.
Within XCD there’s Defender, a face moisturizer designed to leave skin with a matte finish. Defender is formulated with vitamins C and E and wheat germ oil.
There’s also Enhancer, a self-tan face moisturizer designed to deliver results in less than three hours. Enhancer is formulated with white tea extract and DHA tanning activator.
Improver, a tinted moisturizer, is recommended for use with Defender and is designed to rid skin of redness and blemishes.
Reviver, an eye cream, is formulated to reduce puffiness and dark shadows.
Perfecter, expected to be the line’s star product, is a smoothing and mattifying face gel, designed to give skin a pick-me-up without shine.
All products will retail for $15 each and will be sold exclusively in CVS on endcaps beginning the first week of December. Following the holiday season, XCD will be merchandised on shelves between shaving gels and deodorants.
King said he expects XCD to generate about $4 million in its first year, adding that other mass chains could be interested in taking XCD, too.
XCD, which launched in 250 Boots the Chemist stores in the United Kingdom one month ago, generates approximately $18,000 per week there.
Although the category is still relatively small, introductions of men’s personal care products continue to thrive. The mass market got its first injection of men’s personal care in 2002 with Nivea for Men, a line complete with shave gels and face lotions, and most recently a new wrinkle-fighting product, deftly named Revitalizer Lotion.
Neutrogena also has a solid men’s skin care offering, comprised of face wash, shave gel, face scrub, face lotion, and, most recently, a deodorant bar.
According to sources, Gillette is planning a men’s skin care launch, called Complete, in the first quarter.
But what sets XCD apart from the rest is that it takes grooming beyond shave and cleansing.
“It also creates a category for men to beautify themselves without threatening their maleness,” King said.
King is so confident a need for these products exists, he has already outlined new XCD products for next fall, including a men’s version of lipstick, nail serum, eyelash thickener and concealer.
XCD packaging and merchandising is masculine, with product displays made of sleek carbon fiber. Fixtures, which will be placed in the men’s grooming aisle, will have the slogan “Don’t just look good, look great.”
Although King may not face competition in mass doors outside CVS, prestige outlets continue to drive men to the category. According to NPDBeauty, sales of men’s skin care grew 2 percent at U.S. department stores last year. Growth was fueled by eye products, age specialists, facial moisturizers and gift sets, while shave products were flat. Jack Black and Zirh showed strong sales growth, as well as Clarins Men, which was launched in August 2002.
Despite the prestige competition, King concedes that there is a whole group of men who have held off experimenting with beauty products because of the interactive setting department stores offer. King said that in most drug stores, men are spared interaction with salespersons.
More than $1 million has been budgeted to promote XCD during the fourth quarter. Advertising efforts include print ads in December issues of men’s magazines, including GQ. In addition, CVS is heavily supporting the launch with dollar-off coupons in store circulars. A brand partnership with a noncompetitive men’s personal care brand — to be revealed at a later date — also aims to drive consumers to XCD.
A CVS spokesman said the chain is “very excited” about XCD mainly because it fits in with its strategy of being first to market with innovative skin care brands.
“We came upon the line the same way we came upon Lumene [a well-known Finnish skin care and cosmetics brand that’s making its U.S. debut in select northeast CVS stores in November] and that is we have been searching for unique, innovative beauty offerings that are not only unique to our channel but to CVS.”