A STRATEGY OF SPECIFICS

Byline: Cara Kagan

NEW YORK--Over the last several years, the bulk of skin care marketing centered on the promotion of entire regimens or multibenefit products.
But times have changed; prestige vendors are now more focused on specific products with very specialized functions.
"Over the past 10 years, consumers have evolved from being brand-loyal to product-loyal; they are really not as a whole looking to buy synergistic systems like they used to," said Karen Rae Flinn, vice president of fragrance and treatment marketing at Lancome. "It is more likely that they will 'cherry-pick' items from different lines to customize their own regimens."
"Women are loyal to a product, not a line," agreed Jean Hoehn Zimmerman, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Chanel. "But they are always looking for something that is better. We all used to be so regimen-focused, but now the trend is on single products."
Advances made on the technological front are one reason for the shift.
"We have discovered that you can't possibly get the best results if you try to throw it all in one product," said Dianne Osborne, vice president of skin care marketing at Estee Lauder USA. "For the last few years, we have been focused on what we call precision skin care products. We are finding that you get the best performance with greater specificity, accuracy and more focused technology."
To promote this philosophy, Lauder has undertaken a joint ad campaign for Fruition and Advanced Night Repair, called "It Takes Two." The ad discusses how advanced skin care is all about specialization and then explains the functions of each product and how they complement each other.
"We found that you can get the best possible results by using different products in degrees and adapting them to different circumstances," said Eunice Valdivia, Clinique's executive vice president of marketing and finance. As part of the trend toward customized care, companies such as Chanel, Guerlain and Decleor are also introducing preparations designed to be worn under moisturizers to help tailor them to the user.
In the case of Clinique's Moisture On-Call, the product was designed to energize the skin's own vital functions. In contrast, Chanel, Guerlain and Decleor's entries were created to enhance the performance of other treatment products--even those of other companies.
"Many women need to adjust their levels of moisturization seasonally or when they travel, but they don't necessarily want to invest in trying a completely different product," Zimmerman said. "These types of products are a way of pulling a new consumer into a franchise because you are not asking her up front to switch from using a favorite product.
But she noted that it is important for companies to give every specialized product a distinct reason for being.
"Specialization is a good thing if the education is there," she warned. "But there is a risk of shoving too many products down someone's throat if you are not truly giving solid reasons for the specialization."
Lancome's latest star product is Primordiale, introduced in September. Although it claims dual benefits, Primordiale's main focus is on its inclusion of vitamin E as an antioxidant.
In addition, Primordiale contains lipo-hydroxy acid, a form of beta hydroxy acid, which the company maintains is milder and more skin compatible than other versions of the ingredient.
But Lancome executives noted that the acid inclusion is secondary to the vitamin E claim.
According to Sven Thormahlen, assistant vice president of treatment research and development, the acid was added to infuse the product with an instant gratification factor of radiance.
Sources said that first year retail sales of the product, which retails in a 1-oz. bottle for $42.50, could be over $60 million.
Chanel's energizer product, called Hydra Serum, was introduced in February.
The company bills it as a moisturizing supplement that can be used with another hydrator or alone if only light moisturization is required.
Hydra Serum is designed to fight free radicals and contains ceramides, which purportedly strengthen the skin's moisture barrier.
Chanel executives claim that since Hydra Serum uses vitamins instead of conventional emollients, like mineral oil or lanolin, it is more lightweight and less greasy than other moisturizing products.
Zimmerman projected that Hydra SArum, which retails for $50 for a 1-oz. bottle, would represent 10 to 15 percent of Chanel's treatment business in the first year.At that rate, it would hit a wholesale volume of as much as $8 million, according to industry estimates.
The company is reportedly backing the brand with $1.5 million worth of print advertising during the launch and distributing 350,000 samples throughout the first four months of 1996.
Decleor believes so strongly in supplemental treatment that it markets a line of 11 essential oils--five for the body and six for the face--it calls Natural Beauty Boosters. Company executives maintain that these products maximize and enhance the effectiveness of any other treatment products, such as an antioxidant or AHA preparation, even those of other companies.
They are being marketed as a preparatory step to make the skin more receptive to treatment by regulating various different functions of the skin.
The oils are purported to equalize sebum secretion, hydration, cell renewal and the skin's own defenses against internal or external assault. They are also said to purify the skin by neutralizing any microorganisms, which might have started to flourish and disturb its balance.
Decleor positions the oils as a way to customize a skin care regimen without having to buy all new products as the seasons change, stresses mount or hormones kick in. Tailoring products or lines to the needs of women with sensitive skin is another part of the trend toward customized skin care. Manufacturers such as Clinique, Estee Lauder and Guerlain are introducing products or lines aimed specifically at the concerns of women with sensitive skin.
According to executives at Estee Lauder, 80 percent of women in the 30-to-50-year-old market think they have sensitive skin because of occasional instances when certain products have caused irritation.
"You see more consumers coming to the counters today with the complaints of sensitive skin," said Shirley Weinstein, vice president of product development at Clinique. "Part of it is age-related; older women have more fragile, sensitive skins, and the bulk of the population is aging. A lot of it could also be due to increased environmental stresses such as pollution and UV rays. It could also be due to reactions to chemical sunscreens and the higher SPFs that more people are wearing on a daily basis."
Clinique's latest optional addition is Moisture On-Call, a lightweight cream that is designed to firm, comfort and provide immediate hydration benefits to the skin, while protecting it from free radicals.
But unlike conventional hydrators, Moisture On-Call also purportedly stimulates the skin to produce the same amount of lipids as it did when it was more normal.
Industry sources estimated that the item, which was launched in September, could achieve wholesale volume of $20 million in its first year.
Clinique is reportedly backing the cream with $2 million in print advertising during its inaugural year.
Moisture On-Call is aimed at women with normal-to-combination skin, who will be advised to use Moisture On-Call in conjunction with the company's Three-Step program of cleansing, toning and moisturizing. Women with drier skin will be advised to also use a richer moisturizer, such as Moisture Surge, until the skin's lipid production is regulated.
Clinique augmented its Three-Step program last September for the first time in 27 years with the addition of a new soap and Clarifying Lotion targeted to women with sensitive or extremely dry skin.
Guerlain's booster shot will be launched in May and is the latest addition of the firm's Odelys line, aimed at the burgeoning sensitive skin market.
Called Stabilizing Serum, the new product was formulated to serve as a "second skin" for women with sensitive skin. The product is meant to be applied under treatment products with active ingredients, such as high SPFs and antioxidants, although it is not to be used in conjunction with AHA products or self-tanners.
Guerlain maintains that the preparation serves as a protective layer.
According to Guerlain executives, Stabilizing Serum achieves this action via an active Phytocomplex, which contains botanicals. Among them are oubaku extract, which is purported to have antiinflammatory properties; peach leaf extract, which is said to be calming to the skin, and line flower extract to balance the skin.
The 1-oz. bottle will sell for $54.
Lauder is another company that is targeting sensitive skin.
As has been noted, Lauder has created a full range of products called Verite, a six-item range aimed at women prone to irritation. The line will roll out in the U.S. and Canada in April.
The company is expected to spend about $3.5 million in the first three and a half months of the launch on sampling, print and co-op ads.
"This segment of the market represents an unmet consumer need," said Osborne.
Price's for the new collection range from $22.50 for a cleanser or toner to $60 for a calming fluid. According to industry sources, first-year sales could range from $5 million to $7 million during the first year.
Shiseido carries customization to the ultimate extreme by marketing three separate skin care lines targeted to different skin types. The latest move in the company's ongoing drive to continue expanding its customer base is Benefiance, which was launched in January. The 11-item line is aimed at women over 30 with normal to dry skin.
Benefiance was designed as a successor to Shiseido's Facial Concentrate line, its top-selling skin care line in the U.S. Industry sources estimated that the new line could do $12 million at wholesale in its first year and go as high as $30 to $40 million within four or five years.
Shiseido's other lines include Facial Concentrate, which is due to be phased out during the spring; Vital Perfection, the company's bid for broader-based appeal, and the Pureness collection, which targets women with normal to oily skin and is reaching for women under 25. The new Benefiance franchise will be backed with $4.5 million worth of promotional and marketing support, including national ads, co-op advertising and sampling.
According to Shiseido executives, the new line was meant to be premium-priced but accessible. A 75-ml. jar of moisturizer, for example, is $35. A comparable product in the Vital Perfection line is $32.
As with all Shiseido products, items in the Benefiance line contain hyaluronic acid, which the company claims is naturally produced by the skin to retain moisture.
The line is also formulated with an ingredient the company calls TRA Revitalizer, designed to moderate the overactivation of plasmin, an enzyme that controls the production of new skin cells.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Arden is hitting the treatment market with Ceramide Night Intensive Repair Cream, which will start rolling out in April.
The new skin care item is the first step in the company's plans to blitz the market with at least four major launches over the course of this year, after a relatively quiet 1995. Ceramide Night Intensive, which is the fifth product in the Ceramide franchise, will sell in a 1-oz. jar for $46.
Company executives projected that the new cream should account for 20 percent of the overall Ceramide business. Since the Ceramide brand does an estimated $100 million worldwide, that would mean $20 million in sales for Ceramide Night Intensive.
Arden is backing Ceramide's latest addition with $5 million worth of advertising in the U.S. There will also be a gift-with-purchase promotion throughout the launch when the company will distribute about one million samples.
Ceramide Night contains a ceramide hydroxy acid and a Pro-Vitamin B5 antioxidant complex designed to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while protecting the skin from environmental damage.
Christian Dior's skin care launch this spring--Capture Rides, its first AHA entry--bucks the trend of treatment-specific products by claiming multibenefits.
"We were really absent up until now in the [alpha-hydroxy acid] arena," said Caroline Geerlings, vice president of marketing at Christian Dior perfumes. "We see Capture Rides as a true locomotive for our skin care business and feel it will help us increase our facial skin care business by 50 percent next year."
The company hopes to differentiate it from the other acid-based entries on the market through its multibenefits and unique formula. In addition to the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, Capture Rides will claim sun protection through an SPF 8 and free-radical scavenging through antioxidants.
Industry sources project the product, which was launched in February, will do $5 million wholesale in its first year, meaning it will generate 20 to 25 percent of the company's facial skin care business.
Capture Rides, which is the fifth product in the company's Capture franchise, will come in a 1-oz. size for $45 and a 1.7-oz. version for $68.
The product will be supported with more than $3 million in advertising and promotion during its debut year. Givenchy will also be expanding its skin care range in the first half. The firm's Swisscare brand, a program for combination and oily skin launched in spring 1994, will be augmented in June with Regulating Purifying Mask.
While the range already includes basic cleansers and toners and a shine-control item, the mask will purportedly act to regulate the skin's sebum levels and reduce skin imperfections and irritation.
The product will retail for $35 for a 3-oz. container.
Unlike many of its competitors, Clarins USA's major first-half launch doesn't target the face.
In March, the company will launch Body Lift, a thigh- and butt-boosting product that is designed to reduce the appearance of cellulite. The 7-oz. bottle will sell for $45.
Joseph Horowitz, president of Clarins USA, projected that the new product could generate 9 percent of Clarins's overall sales next year. While he declined to be specific, according to industry sources, Clarins does an estimated $65 million at wholesale, which would give Body Lift sales of $7 million.
Clarins will support the new cellulite buster with $1 million in print advertising. The company will also circulate 10 million statement enclosures inviting customers to receive free samples, of which the company will dispense roughly 500,000 in two phases.

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