NEW YORK — Lancôme is out to build a complete foundation for its color cosmetics category.

With Adaptive All-Day Skin Balancing Makeup SPF 10, Lancôme is tackling new ground for its foundation segment: combination skin.

"The number-one beauty product that drives consumers to department stores is foundation, and it’s important to do this category very well," said Dalia Chammas, senior vice president and general manager of Lancôme, noting that foundation sales account for about 41 percent of all color cosmetics sales in department and specialty stores — more than $1 billion in 2001. "One thing we were missing was a liquid foundation for combination skin."

Added Maeve Coburn, senior vice president of marketing for Lancôme, "The core user for this foundation — the 20- to 35-year-old — needs a foundation that balances her skin all day long. Most foundations don’t do that; by the end of the day, you need a touch up. That’s not true of this formula — it ensures an even application all day long."

Adaptive’s key ingredient is the proprietary Adapti-Last Complex, a blend of three powders — sebum repelling, sebum absorbing and skin mattifying — intended to absorb excess oil and antidrying ingredients intended to keep skin smooth without clogging pores.

Adaptive will be available in 17 shades; a 1 ounce bottle will retail for $30. It will launch in February in Lancôme’s full North American distribution, currently about 2,000 department and specialty store doors, as well as on

At $30, the pricing is slightly lower than Lancôme’s existing foundation lines, which average a $32.50 price tag for the same size bottle. "We see this as a more accessible price point, particularly for a younger consumer," Coburn said.

While none of the executives would comment on sales projections, industry sources estimated that Adaptive would do about $25 million at retail in its first year on counter.

Advertising, featuring spokesmodel Mena Suvari, uses the tag line "Combination skin has met its match." Both single pages and double-page spreads are planned. Bounceback cards and drammed samples are also part of the marketing plan, with at least 5 million samples planned, and the brand will also hold in-store events around the launch to promote both the overall category and the new foundation, said Marie Cesbron, assistant vice president of makeup marketing for Lancôme."We have big ambitions for Adaptive — we have ambitions to make it a top-five foundation — but we do realize that foundation is a very high-loyalty product and it takes time to convince a loyal user to make a switch," Coburn said. "Sampling is part of that education plan."

Some advertising will break in February fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines, with more advertising —?plus bounceback cards — to break in March magazines. While none of the executives would comment on projected advertising spending, industry sources estimated that Lancôme would spend at least $7 million on advertising and promotion in the line’s first year.

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