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Clinique’s New Liquid

For the first time since its founding in 1968, Clinique plans to offer a liquid version of its best-selling facial soap, part of its vaunted Three-Step routine.

NEW YORK — For the first time since its founding in 1968, Clinique plans to offer a liquid version of its best-selling facial soap, part of its vaunted Three-Step routine.

“Customers have been asking for this for many years,” said Debbie D’Aquino, vice president of product development marketing for Clinique. “You can’t make a liquid version of a bar in the strictest chemical sense, but we mimicked the benefits. For instance, the bar soap is superfatted and hard-milled, and you get a great lather from it. With this version, we use ingredients that are pretty similar.”

Like the bar soap, the Clinique liquid soap will be available in three versions — one formula each for very dry/delicate, dry/combination and oily skin.

Liquid Facial Soap Extra-Mild, for very dry skin, includes sodium hyaluronate, trehalose and urea to boost hydration while cleansing. Liquid Facial Soap Mild includes sodium hyaluronate to boost hydration and TEA-cocoyl glutamate to cleanse skin without disturbing its pH level. Liquid Facial Soap Oily Skin Formula includes saw palmetto extract to help normalize excess sebum and menthol to cool skin, added Dierdre Rio, executive director of treatment marketing for Clinique.

All of the formulas are priced at $14.50 and are rolling out now.

While the liquid version may cannibalize a bit of the bar soap market, D’Aquino doesn’t see it as a problem. “Some of our customers will likely buy both, and use one, say, for traveling,” she said. “And in the U.S., I believe we’ll draw new customers into the mix. The way to evolve is to offer a liquid version [of the bar soap]. It’s a bit more modern and portable.”

The launch is being supported with a major advertising and promotional campaign, which is breaking now. It includes print, outdoor and TV advertising, shot by Guido Mocafico, based on the premise of the human face as a canvas. March issues of Glamour, Allure and People Style Watch carry eight-page inserts, while print advertising is also running in additional fashion, beauty and teen magazines.

During March, there will also be a billboard opposite Macy’s Herald Square flagship here touting the new products and campaign, noted Alicia Sontag, executive director of North American marketing for Clinique. While none of the executives would comment on sales projections or advertising spending, sources estimated the changes would add at least $15 million at retail to Clinique’s North American business — where the brand is in about 2,100 department and specialty stores — in its first year. Sources also estimated that the brand would spend upward of $4 million on TV advertising and another $4 million on print advertising for the new campaign this year.

The brand is also undertaking an intensive online marketing effort, and sampling not only in department stores but also at 125 colleges and universities in the U.S.