NEW YORK — Nicholas Perricone, arguably the most widely known of the superstar dermatologists to enter the skin care business, has his sights set on the next plateau: Madison Avenue retailing.
But when the 2,100-square-foot store opens in early September after Labor Day, it will not be the typical exercise in shop-keeping. Perricone has been viewed, at least among the dermatologists, as the pioneer in studying how inflammation interrelates with aging. He has authored three books on his theories and the fourth, titled “The Perricone Promise,” is due out in October. He also conducts TV lectures over the Public Broadcasting System, having done three so far. His approach, therefore, is far from traditional.
Perricone, who graduated from Yale Medical School and holds close to 30 U.S. patents stemming from his research with at least another 14 pending, sees himself as a scientist and an educator, as well as a doctor. He views the quest for beauty as a three-tiered pursuit, consisting of internal and external factors. The Perricone method boils down to manipulation of diet, application of proper nutrients and exercise and the external application of high-potency and sometimes high-priced cosmeceutical products.
“The future is that we’ve got to provide a true and real service,” Perricone said in a recent interview. “Beauty is a three-tiered program, or four-tiered. It’s what you eat, it’s taking supplements, nutritional drinks; it’s giving topicals. And you have to teach people lifestyle changes. To truly be a beauty company of the future, you’ve got to be able to provide what really works,” he said, emphasizing that his prescription is a highly integrated package.
Perricone’s products can be highly advanced and steeply priced, as in the recently launched Neuropeptide category of facial skin care products. A 2-oz. bottle of Neuropeptide Facial Conformer, designed to decrease the appearance of lines and wrinkles, retails for $575 a bottle. Neuropeptides are tiny strings of amino acids that develop brain cells and ultimately skin cells, forming what he calls a “brain-beauty connection.” According to Perricone, neuropeptides control flow of blood to the skin, theoretically providing a glow.
A Neuropeptide Facial Serum Prep, priced at $175 for 6 oz., is being launched, and two more products in the series — a contour cream and an eye product — will be introduced in conjunction with the debut of the Madison Avenue flagship.In addition to his Web site and a fledgling foreign distribution, Perricone distributes his line through about 200 U.S. doors, the latest being Bloomingdale’s new SoHo location. Perricone also does a strong business with Sephora, where the brand ranks number one among clinical skin care lines, according to Betsy Olum, senior vice president of marketing for Sephora USA.
The two highest-grossing Sephora doors for Perricone’s products are in San Francisco and Boston, where the retailer has built shop-in-shop installations for the brand. “Perricone remains a top-performing brand at Sephora and [it is] one of our most productive performers,” said Olum. “We expect continued growth from the brand, based on innovative new products, and an ongoing loyal client following.
“The Perricone regimen starter kit we developed with [Perricone] continues to be a top seller, allowing new Perricone clients to easily experience the brand’s core regimen. The innovative new Neuropeptide product has sold very well, and the core regimen ‘power products’ — Face Firming Activator, Concentrative Restorative Cream and ALA Eye Complex — continue to be [among our company’s] top sellers.”
The new flagship, located at 791 Madison Avenue at 67th Street, is being portrayed by Perricone and his executives as a library and information center as much as a store selling his cosmeceuticals. It is designed as an information springboard to advance Perricone’s philosophy and method, which the doctor calls the Perricone Prescription.
According to Marcie J. Krempel, executive vice president of strategic planning and marketing for Perricone, the location will even be designed like a library with four islands and four consultation rooms staffed by nutritionists or physiologists. Perricone’s books will be on sale and TV monitors will be playing the latest PBS lecture. Selected nutritional foodstuffs also will be sold, along with all of the cosmeceuticals. The heart of the operation will be in-depth, one-hour consultations, which the company values at $500 each. Included will be an ultraviolet examination of an individual’s skin structure.
Krempel added there will be a beauty concierge service and a VIP entrance in the rear. Also under consideration are ideas to expand the personal consultation service into clients’ homes and offices, with corporate programs.Perricone also markets a professional line, with a higher potency of his over-the-counter regimens, for dermatologists, and a sensitive-skin collection will be relaunched next year.An innovative new sunblock will be introduced in February. The sales effort has been joined by Lynda Berkowitz, a former Bobbi Brown executive who is now vice president of sales retail and professional products at Perricone.
All of this has helped Perricone build a business some industry sources estimate as having reached $52 million in sales last year. He is said to have achieved a 16 percent increase this year, bringing his projected revenue total for 2004 to more than $60 million.
No one at Perricone would comment on the estimates, including another projection that showed the Madison Avenue store having to generate at least $1 million a year just to break even.
The company also is working on its overseas distribution. Perricone has had distribution in the U.K. and Australia, but in September, the company will begin selling its products in France. Perricone will move into Italy about the same time through Sephora, and planning is under way to debut in Japan. Perricone also intends to make a move in the travel retail market through DFS and the British-based BAA.
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