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Reaching Out For the Men’s Market

PARIS — Lancôme is going after guys with a new skin care line this month.<br><br>Called Lancôme Homme, it comprises 10 products meant to entrench the L’Oréal-owned brand firmly in the men’s treatment business....

PARIS — Lancôme is going after guys with a new skin care line this month.

Called Lancôme Homme, it comprises 10 products meant to entrench the L’Oréal-owned brand firmly in the men’s treatment business.

“The only [beauty] market that’s growing in double digits is men’s,” explained Diana Balitrand, marketing manager at Lancôme travel-retail Europe, who added: “It’s a market that can only grow, [since] a lot of the target customers are simply not buying [skin care products yet].”

While Balitrand refused to talk numbers, industry sources estimate Lancôme Homme could ring up $15 million in retail sales in its first year.

The line is hitting shelves in Europe’s travel-retail stores this month. It then will be introduced in U.S. travel retail in August and Asian travel retail the following month. Also in September, Lancôme Homme will be sold in European domestic markets. One year later — in September 2004 — the U.S. and Asian domestic markets are slated to get the line.

Lancôme chose to debut Lancôme Homme in travel retail since it is deemed less onerous than traditional perfumery settings.

“The travel-retail environment is less scary for men than some types of retailing in local markets,” explained Balitrand. “It’s a good opportunity to create buzz with events in a comfortable [environment].”

Also meant to be men-friendly is the new line’s product packaging. Their blue-and-silver tubes and cans come in round canisters reminiscent of a pack of tennis balls. And, for clarity, in-store merchandising units feature pictograms explaining each item’s function.

In creating the line, Lancôme took into account that men’s skin is thicker, oilier and more blackhead-prone than women’s. The company noted as well that, while men’s skin is more resistant to external aggressions than women’s, it is under more strain due to shaving.

So to meet such demands, Lancôme concocted a complex, included in all of the skin care line’s products, called Actiskin. It is billed to reenergize skin thanks to an energy-reserve molecule found in plankton. It also contains triceramides said to repair skin and nanocapsules of vitamin E, which protect against pollution and block free radicals.

The Lancôme Homme line is made up of two cleansing products — Invigorating Cleansing Gel and Smooth Face Scrub. For shaving, there is Smoothing Shave Foam and Smoothing Face Gel. There also are aftershave options — Active Smoothing After-Shave Treatment, an alcohol-based lotion, and Ultra Soothing After Shave Balm. Among the treatment products are Recharging Moisturizer, Complete Revitalising Treatment and Anti-Fatigue Eye Treatment. In August, Relax Mask will be added to the line in Europe. The sheet-like masks, meant to instantly de-stress and moisturize the skin, come in packets of six.

At the counter, sales associates will be on hand to suggest individual products or prescribe regimens for problems such as sensitive skin, tough beards, skin aging and fatigue.

Single-page ads featuring model Rory Marshall will break when the line bows in domestic markets. There also will be a sampling campaign, including 2-ml. sachets.

U.S. travel retail prices for Lancôme Homme range from $11 for a 150-gram can of Smoothing Shave Foam to $24 for a 50-ml. tube of Complete Revitalising Treatment. A 50-ml. tube of Active Smoothing After-Shave Treatment goes for $17.

Lancôme Homme is Lancôme’s second go-round in the men’s skin care market. Its previous attempt, called Programme Homme, was discontinued in the Eighties.