NEW YORK — For at least the last two decades, skin care marketers have viewed the promise of the coming men’s treatment market as a shimmering opportunity just out of reach. It has been judged through the years as everything from a promised oasis to a pitiless mirage.The two brands that have made the most headway in this arena are Aramis, with its Lab Series, and Clinique. Sources estimate that roughly 50 percent of the men’s prestige skin care business is now done by Clinique, with Aramis accounting for another 30 percent and the other competitors dividing up the remaining 20 percent. The size of the pie is reportedly approaching $100 million at retail. Now, Joseph Horowitz, president and chief executive officer of Clarins, is ready to throw his hat into the ring, saying that the market is "ripe and ready" for men’s skin care. The older generation of men may not have much interest, he acknowledges, but younger males are tuning in.Besides, Horowitz remembers back to 1982 and 1983 when Clarins started marketing its premium-priced sun care products in department stores, and the conventional wisdom decreed that it would never work. Sun care is a now a mainstay there — as is, of course, women’s treatment. Horowitz also remembers being told that American women weren’t interested in skin care, only in makeup. "It took time to develop skin care for women," he said, noting that today department stores do 26 percent of their beauty business in women’s treatment.As a result, Clarins became one of the prime players, and Horowitz sees the men’s market as a logical extension —?especially considering retail reports that the brand already has a number of male fans with its existing skin care products. Moreover, Clarins executives plan to capitalize on the equity they have built with the female audience with initiatives such as a heavy sampling campaign for the men’s line at the Clarins counter.Eric Horowitz, senior vice president of sales and retail services and Joseph’s son, pointed out that the company has brand awareness with men through its sun care business, something else the company will build on with this line.In mid-September, Clarins Men will make its debut at Bloomingdale’s. A month later, in mid-October, the line will roll out to the full Clarins distribution of 1,000 doors, at roughly the same time the line is bowing around the world.And the expectations are sober. Clarins does not break out sales targets or advertising budgets, but industry sources indicate that Clarins ultimately would like to do 7 or 8 percent of its skin care business in men’s. It is thought that Clarins is shooting for first-year retail sales of $7 million to $10 million, with an advertising and promotion budget of $2 million to $3 million, most of it in aggressive sampling. Caroline Pieper-Vogt, vice president of marketing, explained that the nine items in the line are built around four dynamics: cleansing and shaving, moisturizing, specific problem solving, and hair and body care. The products are formulated to provide plenty of texture and benefit. The Fatigue Fighter, for instance, is designed "to give a boost to tired, weary skin." and will retail for $26. The line includes body cleanser, shaving gel, moisture balm and gel, a $26 undereye serum, and a hair and body shampoo for $16. Clarins also will market a $28.50 dopp kit containing two full-size and two trial-size products.One interesting wrinkle is the use of pictograms on the packaging. "It was developed as a new way of speaking with the use of icons," Pieper-Vogt said.The pictograms, combined with the fact that the products are designed with comfort in mind, add up to a masculine approach. "It talks very straightforwardly to a guy," said Eric Horowitz. "He won’t feel like he’s sharing his wife’s products."The promotion strategy calls for heavy sampling through women customers. Samples will be handed out by Clarins beauty advisers, who will ask customers if they want to take home something for the men in their life. Clarins will hand out 150,000 trial kits during the launch period, consisting of the two products judged the most versatile: the face wash and moisture gel. The kit includes a bounceback card inviting men to the counter for more samples. Another 100,000 pieces will be disseminated at parties and media events outside the stores. A total of 500,000 letters will be sent out, and another 10 million billing inserts will invite men to the counter for free samples.

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