NEW YORK — Darphin is planning a new wrinkle for its skin care business this year.The brand, which the Estée Lauder Cos. acquired in January 2003, plans to unveil four new products this spring, the first developed by Lauder executives."Darphin has operated in the U.S. for about seven years, but it's always been something of a cult brand," said Shashi Batra, general manager of Darphin and sister brand Rodan and Fields. "We're going to out it."Founded in 1958, Darphin's focus has always been efficacious skin care items, something that Batra and his team are leveraging with the new launches. The star product is Prédermine Wrinkle Corrective Serum, Darphin's first daily corrective wrinkle serum, scheduled to launch in mid-April. It joins the existing Prédermine line, which includes products such as Replenishing Anti-Wrinkle Cream and Prédermine Replenishing Mask.The first daily wrinkle serum produced by Darphin, Prédermine Wrinkle Corrective Serum is specifically designed to treat wrinkles and creases by hydrating and smoothing, said Dana Mauriello, assistant manager of product development. The product uses a proprietary cocktail of oligopeptides and phytofix, along with their patented sea-derived Micropatch technology, which is said to stimulate natural collagen production and improve the skin's barrier strength. It will retail for $195."The influence the U.S. market has in the skin care category and its future in the prestige environment had a big influence on the product," said Batra, adding that the U.S. is the brand's largest market outside of France. While none of the executives would comment about sales expectations, industry sources estimated that the serum could do $1 million at retail in its first year on counter. In addition, Darphin will introduce three new eye products this March. All formulas feature botanically derived blends, producing fragrant aromatic essences that are intended to heal, said Mauriello. Lifting and Firming Eye Serum, $75, is intended to lift, firm and smooth the eye area with a blend of the proprietary Firmiderm, matrikines and centella asiatica extract, while Dark Circles Relief and De-Puffing Eye Serum, also $75, uses the brand's Eyeliss TM, a peptide and glycerin mix, and rose and liquorice extracts to brighten tired eyes. A third addition, Instantly Radiant, will retail for $65 and uses imperata cylindrica, glycerin and squalene to hydrate, soothe and brighten the eye area.Annie Jackson, executive director of marketing, said that while consumers ranging from "20 to 70 years old" will see benefits from using these products, the bulk of those consumers are likely to fall into the 35- to 55-year-old age range. "Our message regarding firmness speaks directly to that age group," she said.And while Batra and his team are determined to out the brand, its U.S. distribution is expected to stay very targeted. Darphin is currently available in about 36 high-end specialty store doors, including all Neiman Marcus doors, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue's Manhattan flagship and an edited list of indie beauty boutiques, including Blue Mercury, JD's in Westport, Conn., and L.A.'s Fred Segal. The brand is also available at darphin.com.Future growth for the brand, both domestically and internationally, is expected to come from destination and day spa doors and additional upscale specialty store doors, including pharmacies in the brand's native France. As well, said Batra, freestanding, Lauder-owned Darphin stores — like those that sister brands MAC Cosmetics, Origins and Aveda operate —are "likely — it just makes sense."The team's main focus at the moment is to increase visibility through promotional and regional events. "Darphin cultivates a grassroots following of people," said Jackson."We want to do more regional events that have the type of clients we are speaking to, but in a more cultish kind of way because these are the people who respond to our product." Regional co-op advertising and a direct mail campaign are planned. The company plans to distribute 30,000 packette samples through the direct mail campaign and another 15,000 travel-sized samples in store. The company will also raise awareness during New York's Olympus Fashion Week, which begins Feb.3, by serving as a sponsor for the Zac Posen show, said Jackson.Going forward, the company hopes to offer exclusive spa treatments during promotional events at the retailers who stock their products. "We want to stay true to the Darphin philosophy — the aromatherapy and botanical extracts providing customers with a pleasurable experience," said Jackson. "The smell makes you feel good — and when you feel good, you look good."
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