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Clinique Bets Big on Personalized Moisturization

Clinique iD, a custom-blend hydration system, is slated to be the brand's largest launch since Even Better Clinical.

Clinique is turning to customization for its latest launch, which is slated to be the brand’s biggest since Even Better Clinical.

Over the past two years, Clinique has focused on growing its moisturizers category and already, it has seen success. The 50-year-old brand is growing at a rate of 15 percent in moisturizers, according to global brand president Jane Lauder, with a large portion of its sales coming from the Dramatically Different moisturizer collection. According to Lauder, Clinique sells moisturizers at a rate of one every three seconds — which translates to 24 million units a year.

Clinique was founded on the idea that great skin can be created with the right cleanser, exfoliator and moisturizer customized to your skin,” said Lauder. “Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion has been a best-seller for years and we sell one every three seconds. As we continue to innovate in the moisturizer space, we have seen double-digit increases. Today, we have pushed the boundaries of innovation with the first custom-fit hydrating system, Clinique iD.”

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It makes sense, then, that Clinique’s latest launch seeks to revolutionize its Dramatically Different moisturizers. According to senior vice president of global marketing Julien Moignard, Clinique conducted a quantitative study in the U.S. and found that 68 percent of women still hadn’t found the right moisturizer.

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“For most women, it can take up to two years, trying up to five different products for them to find the right one,” he said.

That’s why today the brand is introducing Clinique iD, a custom-blend hydration system with 15 unique combinations. At $39 for a 125 ml bottle, the product is strategically priced to target Millennial consumers. More than that, it upholds what Lauder called “the Clinique philosophy” of affordable skin care.

“We have always believed that everyone deserves great skin and we want to make it so that everyone can have great skin,” said Lauder. “We always have been an entry to prestige and we continue to be that way because that’s one of the ways to enable every woman to have great skin.”

The launch comes at a critical time for the brand. Prestige skin care is on fire, up 15 percent for the third quarter, according to The NPD Group. While Clinique remains the number-one brand in prestige and prestige skin care in the U.S. in terms of dollar sales, according to May data from NPD, its growth has slowed in an increasingly fragmented market.

“We want to break through the clutter and recruit new consumers or have [former customers] come back,” said Jenny Belknap, senior vice president and general manager of Clinique North America, adding that point-of-sale activation will be a huge focus come launch.

Clinique iD features a customization system that allows the consumer to choose from three Dramatically Different hydration bases — a hydrating jelly, lotion or oil-control gel — and pair this with an active cartridge concentrate that addresses one of five skin concerns: irritation, pores and uneven texture, uneven skin tone, fatigue and lines and wrinkles. The cartridge is placed in the hydration base and both are dispensed simultaneously through a pump system that is 90 percent base and 10 percent active ingredient.

The packaging, which contains more than 20 parts in the cartridge alone, is patent-pending and was created in a factory Clinique built in Korea specifically for this project. One of the main challenges during the development process was managing the varying viscosities of the hydration base and active ingredients, according to Moignard, who conceived of Clinique iD nearly three years ago, shortly after he joined the team.

“The viscosity of the products inside are so different,” he said. “You can have a very thick juice for the moisturizer when the cartridge, the liquid inside is like water. There is no texture, it’s pure active ingredient. So when you are designing a pump system — 90 percent of the base and 10 percent of the cartridge — when they have viscosities that are so dramatically different, this is where the nightmare is coming.”

Clinique iD will launch in the U.S. on Dec. 1 on The product will be available on retailers’ web sites starting Dec. 15, followed by in-store retailer launches the week of Dec. 26. Clinique iD will also launch in the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Benelux, Japan and China, as well as travel retail.

Neither Moignard nor Lauder would talk numbers, but industry sources estimate that Clinique iD required three to four times the investment the brand put on the table for Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator. In its first year at retail, Clinique iD is expected to do more than $200 million globally, making it the brand’s biggest launch since Even Better Clinical.

Clinique iD is formulated without parabens, phthalates and fragrance, putting it in line with the current clean beauty movement, though Clinique is “the original clean brand,” noted Lauder.

“Fifty years ago, we had no allergens, no irritants. There were so many things over the years that we’ve taken out of our formulas as more information has come up, but we’ve done it silently,” said Lauder. “We started talking to consumers about our allergy-tested fragrance reposition and they didn’t understand what that meant. They said, ‘Just tell us no parabens.’ So we’ve been talking about it more now and making it visible. All of our ingredient lists are on all of our dot-coms and our retailers’ dot-coms so people can search and see what’s in our products. At Clinique, it’s always been about the formula, the maximum results without any irritation.”

Like all of the brand’s products, Clinique iD’s bases and cartridges follow the company’s safety protocol. The cartridges, in particular, were tested separately in the event that the consumer uses the cartridge without the hydrating base. It should be noted, though, that this is not part of the product’s recommended use.

There are a total of five cartridges, each of which are given a color that corresponds with the active ingredient present in each. The five cartridges and three hydration bases make for a total of 15 combinations.

“In a world of individuality and diversity, to be able to have 15 combinations for all different skin types is super modern in this day and age,” said Lauder.

The green cartridge, which addresses irritation, includes lactobacillus ferment to calm and comfort the skin. Blue contains alpha hydroxy acids, which reduce the look of pores and retexturize the skin. White includes Japanese angelica root extract to brighten and even the skin tone, orange includes taurine to reinvigorate the skin and purple contains whey protein to smooth and plump fine lines and wrinkles. The product is meant to last for a total of three months, and results can be expected after just one week of regular use.

Clinique purchased the rights to the “Mission: Impossible” theme song for its advertising campaign, which will span TV, print and digital. With this launch, the brand will ramp up its influencer efforts by taking a total of 50 influencers, including Kandee Johnson and Jackie Aina, on trips to various destinations around the world. Clinique will also unveil a series of global pop-ups starting in January.

“The thing that is amazing for a brand that is 50 years old is that it is able to reinvent itself,” said Moignard.

“One of the most important things always in a brand is to constantly be surprising the consumer because you think about if people know Clinique and if people always think of us one way, how do you constantly surprise them so they take a new look at the brand?” said Lauder. “That’s what this launch will do.”