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NEW YORK — Biotherm, predominantly a skin and body care brand, is making a bold move into color cosmetics in hopes of expanding its reach in the U.S.

This story first appeared in the September 13, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

With Skin Loving Colors, a new line intended to take the brand into color cosmetics, Biotherm is moving into a new category and laying the groundwork for a U.S. expansion. The lineup is coming to the U.S. in February 2003 and is also being rolled out globally. It is entering the Biotherm store in Hong Kong’s Festival Walk Mall now, while France, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain and Portugal will get the line later this month.

Like the skin care line, the cosmetics will include Biotherm’s signature ingredient, extract of thermal plankton, as well as trace elements, vitamins and UV filters to help protect skin from sun damage, noted Caroline Flandrin, vice president of marketing for Biotherm.

“Our reasoning for entering the category was twofold,” Flandrin said. “The number one reason is that in the color cosmetics category right now, women have to make a choice between trendy, playful color, or a brand with treatment benefits. We felt no one was offering both — a large palette of trendy modern colors, along with great formulas that are great for your skin. The second reason is that we saw a natural fit for the brand. Biotherm has one of the youngest customers in the department store — she’s in her late 20s and early 30s — and these women are extremely interested in cosmetics.” Globally, the target age group for this line is said to be 20 to 35.

The initial U.S. offering will consist of 137 stockkeeping units, Flandrin said. They include 36 shades of foundation keyed to skin type; 28 shades of lipstick; 28 shades of eye shadow; 10 lip glosses; eight eyeliners; six lip liners; five pressed powders; five blushes; two mascaras; two concealers; three loose powders and four shades of highlighting cream. Prices range from $10 for lip gloss to $22 for foundation. The global launch is said to be featuring 217 stockkeeping units, including nail polishes and brow items, which are not being rolled out in the initial U.S. launch.

“Since we’re targeting a youthful customer with this line, we wanted it to be accessible and affordable, as well as fashion forward,” Flandrin said. Created in collaboration with makeup artist Ellis Faas, Skin Loving Colors “is a unique combination of fun, bright colors and terrific treatment formulas,” she said. “It is makeup that is wearable and life-driven, but with a no-rules attitude. These are great, fun colors that are easy to apply.” Much of the collection is packaged in ergonomic silver compacts and containers, “which we see as youthful and modern,” Flandrin said.

In the U.S., the line will be available in Biotherm’s 150 doors, which include Macy’s West, Nordstrom, Foley’s and Burdine’s. Since Biotherm’s distribution is still largely regional — the brand’s doors fall heavily in California and Florida — national advertising is not currently planned. “We’ll go deep in the markets that we’re in, with co-op advertising and other awareness campaigns,” said Chris Harrison, general manager of Biotherm.

While neither Flandrin nor Harrison would comment on first-year sales projections, sources say the color line could do $10 million to $12 million at retail in its first year on counter in the U.S. Globally, sources estimate that the makeup line could ring up $49.5 million in wholesale volume in 2004, by which time a substantial part of its worldwide rollout will be complete.

Neither Flandrin nor Harrison would comment on advertising and promotional spending in the U.S., although industry sources estimated that the budget would be about $1 million in the products’ first year on counter. A sampling campaign is still in the works, but will include dramming foundations and lipstick sampling, as well as events at cosmetics counters, Harrison said.

While Harrison wouldn’t discuss full-scale U.S. expansion plans for Biotherm, she did hint that they won’t be long in coming. “Makeup certainly makes it right in terms of adding volume needed to expand,” she said. “Still, we will stage our expansion carefully. We think the brand has the potential to be a viable player in every large-scale store. And makeup adds interest as well.”

Harrison noted that the brand has just opened two store-in-store boutiques in Macy’s West doors, one in Costa Mesa, Calif.’s South Coast Plaza and the other in Las Vegas, each with open, accessible play stations and separate men’s areas. A third is expected at Macy’s West’s Union Square door in San Francisco this fall.

While Harrison wouldn’t elaborate, she noted that the brand also has new imagery on tap for the makeup launch. “The new look at counter will include shots with the new makeup, which will be friendly and approachable,” Harrison said. “We’ll make it easy to find your own shades, but also easy for customers to be approached and coached.”