By  on February 2, 2007

NEW YORK — Burt no longer has the only bees in town.

Based on the phenomenal success of Burt’s Bees in mass channels, other marketers are looking to the hive for new naturally positioned brands.

Skaffles, a division of IMT Accessories, will introduce its offering called Simply Bee at the ECRM, Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing, meeting kicking off Monday in Pittsburgh.

Simply Bee consists of 52 stockkeeping units ranging from lip shimmers to body butters. Skaffles garnered experience with natural products and beeswax via a partnership with Sally Beauty where it produces a proprietary line called Bee Kissed.

“Now we want to bring it to the rest of the world,” said company owner Steve Shweky. Although he acknowledges that Burt’s Bees is offered to many mass merchants and is sold in doors such as CVS, Walgreens, Target and ShopRite, he believes there are retailers who want a price option from a supplier that can be very flexible.

Prices are about 40 percent below Burt’s Bees’ and, according to Shweky, Skaffles’ size and production capabilities make for a very nimble company with fast turnaround time. “Also, we can customize any display to what a buyer wants. We can keep prices down by manufacturing in China,” he added. Prices range from $1.99 for a lip balm to $12.99 for gift sets that will be presented in reusable wicker baskets or metal watering cans.

A great deal of effort was put into the formulations and flavors, according to Gail Iannacone, creative/product director. The lip shines, for example, feature peppermint oils to provide a cooling sensation and fresh breath. Lip shimmer flavors include Merlot, for those who want to imbibe without the alcohol. The body butters feature flavors such as macadamia nut and honey and shea butter.

She thinks Simply Bee can fill a gap in the current mass market offering. “The products are ageless and seasonless,” said Iannacone, who believes retailers will attract new customers by presenting Simply Bee.

Although the assortment is broad and includes both face and body, Skaffles expects lip items to dominate sales. However, executives expect to roll out line extensions including hair care.

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