YARDLEY BATH SHOPPE OUT OF DRY DOCK

Byline: Cara Kagan

NEW YORK--In the hope of plugging leaks in its past marketing efforts, Maybelline Inc. has recaulked its Yardley Bath Shoppe Collection with sharply reduced prices, revamped packaging and enhanced formulas.
"We feel that moves like these are necessary to be more competitive in a market that has become increasingly crowded," said John Nuechterlein, senior marketing manager of Yardley. Nuechterlein further noted that many retailers had been shrinking bath space, in order to accommodate larger skin care sections in chain stores, since the mass treatment market is continuing to grow. Chain store executives also note that the advent of two-in-one body cleansers with treatment benefits has put added pressure on the struggling bath category.
Last year Yardley's sales decreased somewhat from the brandís 1993 volume, Nuechterlein said.
While he declined to be more specific, industry sources estimated Yardley's 1993 retail volume at $10 million to $12 million, with 1994 sales at slightly lower levels.
Yardley is expecting the new initiatives to bolster sales by about 20 percent, Nuechterlein said.
That would give Bath Shoppe an estimated retail volume of no more than $12 million to $14 million this year.
Last year's decline is partially attributable to shrinkage in the brand's distribution, he said. Yardley Bath Shoppe started 1994 off in 15,000 doors and finished the year in 12,000. The company is hoping to recapture an additional 2,000 to 3,000 doors by the end of this year.
The advent of moisturizing body washes, Nuechterlein believes, was another competitive factor.
Late last year, companies such as Procter & Gamble Co., Lever Bros. and the Andrew Jergens Co. introduced two-in-one liquid body cleansers that are positioned as being more therapeutic than traditional shower gels. They are designed to cleanse as well as moisturize the skin.
These items, sold under the Oil of Olay, Caress and Jergens brand names, respectively, are merchandised in the commodities aisles next to the soaps, and have prices under $5.
"So far the success of this category has been phenomenal, although it is still too early to tell what the end result will be," Nuechterlein said. "These companies have moved the bath focus away from specialty lines, which have multiple stockkeeping units and fragrances, and require special merchandising units."
Two-in-one liquid cleansers are also bringing formidable advertising spending into a category. For most companies, $5 million is considered to be a huge, annual budget for supporting a mass market bath and body care line. Most specialty bath companies spend around $1 million a year.
According to industry sources, the three companies combined are spending about $150 million to launch their products.
Yardley last year reportedly spent $3 million on a print campaign, but will not advertise this year.
"We are investing our money on the relaunch instead," Nuechterlein said, declining to elaborate.
In an effort to be more competitive in the mass specialty bath market and with the new body-wash category, Yardley has lowered the prices of all of its items by an average of 20 percent.
The 8-oz. bottles of shower and bath gel, body lotion, and bubble bath will now carry a suggested retail price of $6.50 each. The $6.50 price tag will also apply to the 4-oz. shaker talc and the 6.5-oz. jar of moisturizing body cream. Bar soaps will now be $2.50 each.
According to Nuechterlein, these new prices went into effect in October, in order to hit the 1994 holiday selling season.
Repackaging the lineís 40-item line is another way Yardley hopes to make its Bath Shoppe collection more accessible.
This week the company shipped out unboxed versions of all of its items with updated graphics and clearer labeling. "When we launched the line two years ago, we thought that since many prestige bath products were packaged this way, the mass category would evolve along the same lines," Nuechterlein said. "But the mass segment turned out to be more price-sensitive and less packaging-oriented than we expected.
"We also found that in the mass market you need a more direct approach and have to grab peopleís attention quickly, and you can do that better through giving people direct access to a product," he added. In addition to the other changes, each product in Bath Shoppe has been reformulated to include additional moisturizers, soothing botanicals and vitamins.
The company maintains that the newer versions will now not only cleanse the skin, but moisturize and soothe it as well.
"We are hoping that by reformulating Bath Shoppe we will have more of a skin-care positioning," Nuechterlein said. "We are looking to bridge the gap between bath and skin care."

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