Byline: Cara Kagan

NEW YORK--Moisture On-Call, the first major treatment introduction by Clinique in three years, is expected by the company to be second in sales only to Turnaround Cream, its 1992 blockbuster.
The launch, which is set for September, will focus on the product's technology. Unlike conventional moisturizers, which usually address the symptoms of dryness temporarily by adding moisture or providing a physical barrier, Clinique's new item was created to stimulate the skin to increase its own natural lipid production, which helps the skin retain moisture.
"Most moisturizers alleviate the causes of dryness by soothing and comforting the skin but several hours later, the skin returns to its original condition," said Shirley Weinstein, Clinique's vice president of product development. "Moisture On-Call not only provides the skin with immediate comfort and hydration, but it spurs the enzymes in the cells to produce lipids at the skin's optimal rate, which in turn help the skin to reestablish a strong moisture barrier."
Clinique calls this function "mnemonic technology" since it is, in effect, reminding dry skin to produce the same amount of lipids that it did when it was more normal. Caffeine is a catalyst for this reaction, Weinstein said.
"We think that Moisture On-Call will be our second biggest skin care launch after Turnaround Cream," said Dan Brestle, president of Clinique USA.
According to industry sources, the franchise's two versions of Turnaround Cream now represent about 6 percent of the company's estimated $550 million in sales, or about $33 million at wholesale.
Moisture On-Call, which will be distributed at Clinique's 2000 counters, will sell in a 1.7-oz. jar for $30. Sources estimated that it will generate a wholesale volume of $18 million to $20 million in the first year.
"Moisture On-Call is just the beginning. We believe this type of technology has much broader implications," Brestle added. "We will definitely be expanding the concept to other products."
Although Clinique executives would not discuss advertising budgets or sales projections, industry estimates are that the new item is being backed with $2 million in national print advertising this fall, with additional funds allotted for radio and co-op newspaper ads.
According to Eunice Valdivia, executive vice president of marketing and finance for Clinique, a division of Estee Lauder Cos., print ads will first appear in September issues of women's magazines such as Allure, Glamour and Self. A similar campaign will run throughout the spring, she said, but she would not elaborate further.
Moisture On-Call will target women who are first noticing the signs of dryness--women with normal to slightly dry skins--or what Clinique classifies as a Type 2 customer. Women with drier skins will be instructed to use a richer supplemental moisture product, such as Clinique's Moisture Surge.
"Women with Type 2 skin conditions represent our biggest customer base," Valdivia said. "So we decided to address this consumer first."
Throughout the fall, the company will distribute over one million carded packette samples at counter and an additional million samples via direct mail and remittance envelopes, Valdivia said.
The company has also created a promotional 1-oz. size for $15 that will be distributed at select accounts throughout the launch.
"Through the packettes, women will really only be able to feel the product's texture and realize its immediate benefits," Weinstein said. "It really takes about a month for the full benefits to kick in."
As an initial promotional tie-in, Clinique will give a phone charge card with 10 minutes worth of free calling time to anywhere in the continental U.S. to consumers who buy Moisture On-Call in select accounts.
"You have to have a little hook these days to cut through the clutter," Valdivia said.
Moisture On-Call will also claim to firm, comfort and provide immediate hydration benefits to the skin, as well as protecting it from free radicals.
Because the product is designed to help the skin strengthen its own moisture barrier, rather than forming an artificial physical barrier, Moisture On-Call has been formulated to be extremely lightweight, a property, according to Clinique research, that many women are seeking in a moisturizer.
As with Clinique's other specialty items, Moisture On-Call was designed to be used in conjunction with the company's core three-step treatment regimen that consists of cleansing, toning and basic moisturizing. Clinique customers also will be encouraged to use the new item in tandem with Turnaround Cream, which contains salicylic acid, since exfoliation purportedly increases Moisture On-Call's efficacy.
"Three-Step is the core of Clinique's treatment philosophy," Valdivia said. "It is not something we will ever walk away from. But as technology makes it possible for us to build on this base, we will judiciously add specialty products that work with this system."

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