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Shiseido Hopes for Benefiance Boon

NEW YORK — A long-running research collaboration with Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital has yielded another new skin care product for Shiseido.<br><br>The Boston-based venture, called MGH/Harvard Cutaneous Biology Research...

NEW YORK — A long-running research collaboration with Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital has yielded another new skin care product for Shiseido.

The Boston-based venture, called MGH/Harvard Cutaneous Biology Research Center, has already spanned 14 years and aided in the development of two of the company’s existing skin care brands — The Skincare and Qiora, both of which hit the U.S. three years ago.

With the global launch of a single skin care item called Benefiance Wrinkle Lifting Concentrate this fall — an extension to its core Benefiance skin care brand — the Tokyo-based cosmetics giant will market a product based on new findings from the research team on why the sun causes aging.

At the same time, the new Benefiance treatment item will take the brand to a younger consumer. The existing Benefiance treatment line is positioned for women age 40 and above. Benefiance Wrinkle Lifting Concentrate is said to address the specific chain of events that causes photoaging, and is meant to appeal to women as young as 35 due to its preventative claims.

The antiwrinkle treatment is designed to both prevent UV-induced aging and to also correct existing wrinkles. Prior to spending two years developing the product, Shiseido collaborated with the CBRC on three years of basic research, according to Dr. Kiichiro Yano, of Shiseido’s in-house research and development team.

According to Yano, the basic research indicated that UV radiation throws off a balance of two proteins — Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, or VEGF, and thrombospondin-1, or TSP-1. A resulting overabundance of VEGF causes angiogenesis, or the enlargement of blood vessels, said Yano, which, in turn, induces wrinkles. Normally, the balance is reversed, according to observations, and there is an overabundance of TSP-1, a protein that “prevents UV-induced angiogenesis,” said Yano. In an effort to find an ingredient that might restore the VEGF/TSP-1 balance, Shiseido screened more than 300 botanical extracts, eventually hitting upon an extract of chlorella found to induce TSP-1 production in the epidermis.

Referring to the chlorella extract, Tomoko Yamagishi, executive director of marketing for Shiseido’s prestige brands, said Benefiance Wrinkle Lifting Concentrate is “designed to prevent future damage from exposure to UV rays. It also contains retinol A [complex],” she noted, “to help correct existing lines.”

Shiseido presented the new research findings following a panel discussion in New York Thursday titled, “The Future of Skin Aging.” Rebecca B. Campen, deputy director of the CBRC, Michael Detmar, associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and Richard D. Granstein of Cornell’s Weill Medical College were panelists. The discussion was moderated by Deborah Roberts of ABC News.

Benefiance Wrinkle Lifting Concentrate comes in a 1-oz. pump priced at $60. The concentrate, which will launch in 800 U.S. department store doors by November, is designed to be compatible with skin care regimens within other Shiseido sub-brands such as The Skincare. Industry sources estimate the concentrate could garner $3.5 million in first-year retail sales in the U.S.

“We believe Benefiance Wrinkle Lifting Concentrate will have wide appeal for customers,” said Heidi Manheimer, president of U.S. operations for Shiseido.

“We’re aiming for [it] to be the key product in the Benefiance line,” added Yamagishi. “It’s important because Benefiance is the core line within our total skin care business.”

Yamagishi noted that skin care represents 60 percent of Shiseido Cosmetics (America) Ltd.’s total sales. Benefiance alone accounts for 20 percent of the U.S. affiliate’s sales. Though neither executive would comment on sales volume, Shiseido’s total beauty business in the U.S. was estimated by sources to be about $150 million at retail in 2002, a number that has reportedly grown 10 percent so far this year.

Bruce Gephart, senior vice president of sales for Shiseido’s prestige brands, noted that Shiseido would try to exploit Benefiance Wrinkle Lifting Concentrate’s purported compatibility with other Shiseido skin care lines. “One of the strategies we’d like to employ with an item that can bridge skin care ranges,” he said, “is regimen selling — three products: a cleanser, softener and moisturizer [from another line] then Benefiance Wrinkle Lifting Concentrate.”

He added that a sampling program — consisting of 100,000 units — and a co-op advertising campaign set for November and December would support Benefiance Wrinkle Lifting Concentrate. Sources estimate roughly $1 million will be spent in support of the product during the fourth quarter.

In 1999, Shiseido committed to a second decade-long stint with the CBRC. Shiseido’s participation began with the program’s 1989 inception and the company spent $85 million sponsoring the project in its initial decade. Shiseido renewed the sponsorship five years ago, and pledged an additional $85 million until 2009.