LA PRAIRIE INTENSIFIES THE ACID

Byline: SOREN LARSON

NEW YORK--With alpha-hydroxy acid still the hot ingredient in skin care, La Prairie thinks it is time to up the ante.
In October, the company will augment its acid-based Age Management line with three new anti-aging items, each of which contains an acid dosage over double that of the existing products.
Called Age Management Intensives, the new items are designed to be a step beyond the alpha-hydroxy products now on the market, according to Lynne Florio, the company's president.
"It's apparent that alpha-hydroxies are not a fad," she said. "Sales of the products that are out there are still strong, but by now some customers are ready to move on."
"Our focus was to go beyond what is currently offered with AHA," said Morris Herstein, director of research and development, who noted that the Age Management additions contain between 10 and 15 percent alpha-hydroxy acid.
Elizabeth Arden's Alpha-Ceramide, touted as the most potent alpha-hydroxy product in the prestige market, tops out at 7.5 percent.
Herstein stressed that consumers should not use the new products without prior acclimation to other alpha-hydroxy acid-based items.
"Everyone has to go through an undergraduate course first," he said. "The skin has to be already adapted to the AHA's."
The upcoming introductions, which will be launched in La Prairie's 250 doors nationwide, are Intensified Emulsion, a product with SPF 8 that is intended for daytime use; Intensified Serum, for nighttime use, and Line Inhibitor, a spot treatment designed for use in particularly troublesome areas.
Retail prices will be $140 for a 1-oz. Serum, $95 for a 1.7-oz. Emulsion and $100 for 0.5-oz. Line Inhibitor.
The prices are slightly higher than the original Age Management face products: Serum, Cream and Balancer. La Prairie also markets Age Management body lotion and hand cream.
In order to provide a stronger antiwrinkle action, Herstein said, La Prairie developed five "complexes," which form the new items' basic ingredients.
A cellular complex, he said, provides nourishment to the skin, while a bio-repair complex works at night to repair surface damage. An anti-elastase complex prevents breakdown of the elastin protein, keeping the skin firm, while a multi-acid complex performs the exfoliation.
Finally, a protacid complex regulates the release of the alpha-hydroxy acid, minimizing skin irritation.
"The protacid acts as a buffer," Herstein said. "The most important advance we've made is [increasing] the intensity of the acid, but in order to do that you have to have a modulated delivery system that ensures against irritation."
To herald the new products' arrival, La Prairie will launch a print advertising campaign scheduled to first appear in October fashion magazines. The campaign will continue for 12 months, according to Shelley Weinstock, vice president of marketing.
"This is La Prairie's biggest product campaign ever," she said, noting that $2 million has been budgeted to advertise the new items in their first year.
The ads slated to appear in October issues of magazines, which typically hit newsstands in September, will invite consumers to take an empty bottle of any alpha-hydroxy acid-based product to a La Prairie counter, where they will receive free samples of Line Inhibitor and the Emulsion.
Over 100,000 of the preview samples will be given away, Weinstock said.
"This should generate a lot of interest before the actual products arrive" in early October, she noted.
In November magazines, the ad campaign will expand into double-page spreads.
"We think we're going to add on a substantial layer of business," said Florio, who projected a "35 to 40 percent increase at retail" this year for the existing Age Management products.
The three new items, she noted, could do"double or triple" the volume of the existing line in their first year.
She declined to give specific figures, but according to industry estimates, the existing Age Management products could approach $25 million at retail this year, meaning the three additional products could generate over $50 million at retail in 1995.
"Because of our [small] size we always have to find a niche," Florio said. "We're trying to bridge the gap between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals."

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