NEW YORK — Olay is joining the natural movement.

This story first appeared in the June 7, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

With a new collection of bath and body care products — Ohm by Olay — the venerable Procter & Gamble brand is for the first time taking a strong interest in the use of natural ingredients. The lineup also signals P&G’s entry into specialty bath with the introduction of body mist and body scrub products.

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The name Ohm, taken from Sanskrit, is a word often chanted in the practice of yoga. In English, it is a measure of electricity. Alexandra Lipinski, Olay personal cleansing marketing director, says the name perfectly reflects the intention of the products. That is, beauty items that combine science and nature.

There are two scent groups — Jasmine and Rose, which offers calming and relaxing properties, and Citrus and Ginger, intended to refresh and rejuvenate. All products feature toning and moisturizing ingredients, such as petrolatum.

Each group contains an 8-oz. body mist, a 6.7-oz. exfoliating body scrub, a 10.1-oz. body wash and a 4.5-oz. beauty bar. Items are line priced at $4.50 each — lower-priced than several private label body lines.

The brightly colored packaging of Ohm is a striking departure for Olay, which tends toward pale pink, white and black tones. The Ohm Jasmine and Rose features bright pinks in swirls of color with a playful flower graphic. Ohm Citrus and Ginger is a cheerful lime green with a slice of fruit. Dropped from the package is the traditional Olay madonna icon.

Olay hopes to draw a younger woman — 18 to 34 — to the brand, which has a favorable reputation among older women, but lacks a connection with more youthful consumers. “It carries a baggage that `this is my mother’s brand,”‘ observed Lipinski.

Ohm is a major effort for Olay, which will expand its advertising budget 30 to 40 percent to support the launch. Last year, Olay reportedly spent about $70 million on advertising, so Ohm’s cut for 2002 could hover around $25 million. While P&G executives declined to comment, sources predict Ohm could hit retail sales of $40 million its first year.

The collections will be in-store in July. TV and print ads will also break in July and carry a new tag line, “Holistic Beauty from Head to Soul.” Retailers will be offered an array of in-store merchandisers for the launch, said Lipinski. Olay also plans some strategic target marketing, including promotions at shopping malls.

It is recommended that Ohm be block merchandised — keeping all the product together on shelf. Lipinski said that is because the products are designed for layering.

“We’re taking elements like natural botanicals, skin care science, technology and mind/body well-being from free-standing stores, specialty stores to women’s favorite, everyday retailers,” said Lipinski, claiming, “Currently there is no personal cleansing line at mass that actually improves skin’s condition while offering state-of-mind/inner well-being improvement.”

While Ohm will likely be offered in gift sets at holiday, it was primarily developed as a personal use line. Ohm, said Lipinski, “is for those women who want an indulging type experience in the shower.” Lipinski said Ohm could be expanded into new scents and other product categories.

Products with aromachology benefits like Ohm are on the rise. Bath and Body Works is shifting its product collection from a grouping of highly scented beauty products to true aromatherapy and spa lines and Coty’s The Healing Garden is also adding a Spa collection this year.”

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