By  on July 6, 2007

BOSTON — Bonne Bell is looking for the best of both worlds — avenues to expand sales to its base of preteen consumers while branching out to an older audience, including men.

New product initiatives were unveiled at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace meeting last week in Boston, ranging from gift collectibles to a new line of lip products under a licensing agreement with Dasani bottled water.

The Dasani deal extends Bonne Bell's successful licensing program, which includes lip products bearing the Skittles, M&M, Jell-O and Coca-Cola logos. The success of the Coke program was a natural segue to the Dasani collection. According to Bonne Bell officials, 18- to 35-year-old women buy the most lip care products, and Dasani is the leading bottled water brand among that age group. Combine that with the stellar reputation Bonne Bell has built and the line has instant recognition, according to the company. There are both traditional lip balms and slim lines in the assortment.

During the meeting, Bonne Bell's chief marketing officer James Ward explained to retailers that Dasani not only appealed to women, but was taking the Bonne Bell name to male users, too. Bonne Bell decided to put its name on the package — albeit in small type. The company apparently learned from other beauty manufacturers who mistakenly did not put their well-established brand on new products, which ultimately failed, retailers said.

Dasani isn't the only bottled water brand looking to make a beauty connection. Last year, Aquafina was joined with a lip balm and that project has been extended to a full line of skin care produced by Added Extras. Even Vichy gets its name from the famous water logo.

At NACDS, Bonne Bell showed ways to merchandise the Coke brands for visual impact in stores. Wal-Mart will feature a special Coke gift tin for holiday 2007.

Bonne Bell exhibited what retailers said were some of the most interesting holiday gifts from the company in years. Bonne Bell has lost footage at some retailers as new and aggressive lines have entered. Retailers said this effort looks to bring back the appeal of the line, one of the oldest and most revered in drug chains.Among the new items: a metal roller ball for Smackers Biggie Lips (the oversize Smacker) and Collector's Kits. The kits are huge assortments of lip balms priced at $25. The gift sets will make their debut at Toys "R" Us. According to Maribeth Kwasniewski, brand manager for Smackers, the kits are often purchased as collector's items. There is also an 11-piece collector's kit at $19.99.

Eyeing merchandise space in the beauty department, executives at clothing companies saw an opportunity to show their wares at NACDS. As women wear more revealing styles, many are borrowing tips from runways and purchasing specialty items to ensure their undergarments don't make unwanted appearances. Solutions such as double-sided tape, nipple petals and gadgets to adapt bras to shirts had been available only in specialty and department stores. Now, several buyers said they were adding these items to their inventory and most will merchandise them in the beauty department.

"These items are very productive in incremental dollars per foot," explained Ted Davis, president of Braza, which displayed the Supportables line, one of three companies offering undergarment solutions. Retailers liked the chance to offer shoppers quick fixes at the last minute. "You are going out and you have a gap in your shirt....You can go to the drugstore," said one.

Added another, with a chuckle, "NACDS is all about bras this year...and, of course, the paternity test kit. Guess they sometimes go together."

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