NEW YORK--Treatment companies have discovered the star system. Since full skin care regimens can be complicated and even overwhelming to consumers, companies are finding that zeroing in on one "star" product in advertising and visual displays can bring customers to the counters. Many of the star products are alpha-hydroxy acid exfoliators and moisturizers, including EstÄe Lauder's Fruition, Chanel's Lift Serum ExtrÅme and Elizabeth Arden's Alpha-Ceramide. Manufacturers generally agree that whether it's an acid item or a night cream, a treatment line's star should be innovative and high tech. "The success of any company depends on coming out with new items that are based on advances in technology," said Mark Loomis, vice president of retail marketing at Arden. "Today's consumer is not fixated on imagery anymore--she's looking for innovation." Creating a star, though, takes more than research and development. It requires big-budget marketing campaigns. Fruition and Advanced Night Repair, Lauder's other current skin care star, together eat up about 60 percent of the company's treatment ad dollars. At Clinique, Turnaround Cream has requisitioned 36 percent of the budget. Star products often drive a high proportion of sales. Turnaround Cream does an estimated 5 to 6 percent of Clinique's business and Erno Laszlo's AHa Revitalizing Complex accounted for 20 percent of sales during its launch period in the spring. But companies still depend on their full ranges for the bulk of sales and profits. Shiseido and Princess Marcella Borghese, for instance, have shunned the star system and continue instead to focus on their entire skin care regimens. As William Lauder, vice president and general manager of Origins, explained, the stars are like a restaurant's specials: A well-trained server or beauty adviser should be careful to show the whole menu and the dessert cart.
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