By  on June 16, 2006

NEW YORK — Avon may have had a tough start to 2006, but the company is firing back with a strong second-half lineup backed by an aggressive advertising campaign and sampling program.

"Avon continues to sharpen its brand competitiveness by introducing products that connect with consumers on both a brand and innovation level," said Jill Scalamandre, senior vice president of global beauty brands for Avon.

Scalamandre declared that Avon is a multiplatform brand that has turned solving skin care problems into a science. In keeping with its mission to connect with women, the company has divided consumers into two categories: the "age warrior" who uses products from Avon's Anew line, and the "age manager" who uses products from Avon's Solutions brand.

"The age warriors are driven to stay ahead of the aging process. They want up-to-the-minute technology and are on top of trends," said Scalamandre. She noted that these customers are looking for at-home versions of treatments offered at dermatologists' offices.

"The age managers are not obsessed with fighting the signs of aging, but more interested in looking ahead and proactively managing a healthy facial skin care routine," said Scalamandre. She noted that the group uses the Solutions line and tends to be younger.

The first antiaging line launching under Avon Solutions is Ageless Results, a three-item group with nutrients and supplements designed to restore the skin by improving its texture and clarity. Soy was added to stimulate cellular repair, vitamin antioxidants to prevent premature aging and peptides to firm the skin and reduce wrinkles.

The formula was developed by three skin care experts: pharmacologist Janice Teal, nutritionist June Lay and biochemist Xiaochun Luo. Dubbed the Avon Daily Skin Allowance, the three Ageless Results products include Renewing Day Cream SPF 15, Renewing Night Cream and the Anti-Aging Eye Treatment. The products range in price from $12.50 for a 0.5-oz. eye cream to $14.50 for a 1.7-oz. day and night cream.

"This Solutions launch will help us build a broader customer base, while providing products at a more accessible price point," said Scalamandre.

While the day and night creams will be available in July, the eye treatment will be available in September. Both the print and television advertising campaigns will break in July, along with 2.5 million samples that representatives will begin handing out next month.Also in September, Avon plans to launch Anew Clinical ThermaFirm Facial Lifting Cream, designed to lift, tighten and firm the skin through Triple-Sonic technology, which the company says incorporates radio waves, said to stimulate and strengthen collagen production with a cooling effect.

"It's an at-home solution to dermatological procedures," said Scalamandre. "It's a new wave in facelifting."

The formula contains ultrasonic yeast, natural extracts and hydrolyzed plant proteins that are designed to tighten the skin's layers. Fennel, apple root and corn kernel extracts also help stimulate collagen, elastin and fibronectin — or proteins linking dermal fibers together.

According to Avon's consumer testing, 51 percent of women who used the product for eight weeks saw improved tightness in the skin. Customers who tried the products found the skin's cushion to be improved by 46 percent. The facelifting cream will be available in September for $32 and supported by print and TV ads, along with four million one-week-supply samples that will be given with any July purchase.

Finally, in November, Avon will launch its annual fine fragrance, Crystal Aura. Scalamandre said the eau de parfum will be a sophisticated floral fragrance housed in a rectangular purple bottle mimicking the shape of a gem. The fragrance, $26, was developed by Bruno Jovanovic at International Flavors & Fragrances and has notes of star fruit, amethyst rose, musk and woods. To add the final touch, Avon worked with Swarovski to create a dual-purpose pendant that is an accessory to the bottle design and can be removed and worn on a necklace. To increase the pendant's "wearability," Avon will offer a satin chord and silver chain as a gift with purchase.

In October, 12 million impressions will go out to consumers and sales representatives. Though there will be no print or TV advertising, there will be a designated Web site for the product, an e-mail campaign and a sweepstakes for consumers and representatives based on the fragrance launch.

As an extension to the color collection, Avon will also launch SuperFull Mascara, a volumizing mascara with Avon's patented Clean Build Brush, a thermoplastic design that is said to create natural volume and fullness by separating and combining the lashes. The antistatic building formula helps reduce clumping, according to the company. The mascara launches in August and will be sold for $8.50. Salma Hayek will appear in TV and print advertising set to break this fall — September for television and October for print.According to Lily Pulido-DeStefano, executive director of marketing for U.S. fragrance, Avon will distribute over 24 million samples on major launches in the second half of the year.

"We are committed to increasing our level of direct-to-consumer and direct-to-representative sampling — which has proven to be a key driver in our business," said Pulido-DeStefano.

Industry sources estimate these global launches will generate $160 million in sales.

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