NEW YORK — Shiseido’s strategy for expanding its body care business in the U.S. should strike a chord with the majority of Americans concerning an all-consuming obsession: fat.

Body Creator, a cellulite-reducing body gel that is said to assist in fat burning, will launch in March in 750 department and specialty store doors in the U.S. The product, launched in Japan in April 2002, has sold more than 1.3 million units to date, noted Heidi Manheimer, president of U.S. operations at Shiseido.

Body Creator’s key ingredients are the proprietary SLM Fragrance and caffeine, noted Dr. Takeshi Hariya, upon whose research the product is based. According to Hariya’s theory, when a gel containing a special scent and caffeine is first applied to the body, the caffeinepermeates the skin and breaks down neutral fats. "Then, the smell of the fragrance stimulates the sympathetic nerves, which causes the secretion of noradrenaline," he said. "The synergistic effect of the caffeine and the noradrenaline leads to an increase in UCP — the component in fat cells that is key in burning off fat."

The SLM fragrance includes notes of grapefruit, fennel, pepper and tarragon, he said. "Results of measurements showed that fragrances that are highly effective in activating sympathetic nerves came from pepper oil, grapefruit oil, tarragon oil and fennel oil, so we decided to include them," he said. Shiseido has patents pending on both the technology and the fragrance.

Body Creator will retail in the U.S. for $50 for a 200-ml. bottle. While none of the executives would comment on projected first-year sales for Body Creator, industry sources estimated that it would do about $4 million at retail in its first year on counter, which would at least triple Shiseido’s body care business in the U.S. Shiseido’s total beauty business in the U.S. is said to be about $150 million at retail.

Tomoko Yamagishi-Dressler, executive director of marketing for Shiseido’s prestige cosmetics division, noted that while national print advertising is not planned for Body Creator, the product will be supported by a sampling campaign designed to get more than 100,000 samples into the hands of American consumers, as well as direct mail, in-store promotions and retailer catalogs.Body Creator isn’t the only thing Shiseido has on tap for spring. In February, the brand will launch three new complexion veils —?Smoothing, Mattifying and Brightening — which are all designed to be used either on their own or under other foundations to regulate skin tone. Each retails for $30 for 1.1 oz. Also in February, the brand will launch Mascara Base, a gray undercoat retailing for $19 which is said to enhance and help curl lashes.

Continuing the news, Renewing Serum, an addition to the Shiseido Skincare line, is planned for March. Targeted at women in their 20s and 30s, the $45, 1-oz. product is intended to preserve the integrity of the basement membrane of the skin, said Yamagishi-Dressler. "When the basement membrane is traumatized or damaged, signs of early aging become noticeable," she explained.

Shiseido will also add Anti-Shine Refreshing Lotion, a dual phase lotion designed to eliminate shine, clear up blemishes and minimize pores, to its recently introduced Pureness skin care range. Launching in March, the 5-oz., $20 product is formulated with oil-absorbing powder and salicyclic acid.

Advertising is planned in support of the brand’s new skin care and makeup, featuring model Anouk, and will break in February books.

And while others may be concerned about spring sales, Manheimer remains confident. "We’re confident that with the launch of Body Creator —?as well as all of our other great new products planned for this spring — that we’ll continue to experience strong business," Manheimer said.

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