Products from the White Lucent line.

Shiseido is hoping to lighten up its fall outlook with White Lucent, a line of brightening products set to hit the shelves of 250 Federated Department Store doors in September.

NEW YORK — Shiseido is hoping to lighten up its fall outlook with White Lucent, a line of brightening products set to hit the shelves of 250 Federated Department Store doors in September.

Heidi Manheimer, president of U.S. operations for Shiseido Cosmetics (America) Ltd., reported strong growth in the U.S. for the Tokyo-based brand, citing high single-digit increases for the spring season. “Our business, year-to-date, is up 5 percent,” she said. “And retail is picking up — we’re confident to end the year up 10 percent.” While Shiseido does not break out figures, industry sources estimate the company generates about $200 million at retail in the U.S. In October, the line will roll out to the rest of Shiseido’s entire U.S. distribution of 850 doors.

And, if practice makes perfect, the brand just may — ahem — see the light with the line of eight products, according to executives. Shiseido’s history with whitening-brightening products goes back as far as 1915, when the company launched Whitening Cucumber. In turn, Manheimer thinks White Lucent will be a strong performer and, while she would not comment on sales projections for the line, industry sources expect White Lucent to bring in up to $6.7 million in first-year retail sales.

The line’s star product is Concentrated Brightening Serum, a $115 treatment that is said to reduce the formation of melanin, prevent and fade dark spots and freckles and create an overall smoother, more even-toned complexion, according to the company. Key ingredients include Multi-Target Vitamin C, a stable form of vitamin C that addresses the production of melanin on both the outside and the inside of the skin’s surface, and Super Spot Deacti-Complex, which inhibits the production of melanin and the appearance of future dark spots, according to the company. The line will range from $30 for the Brightening Cleansing Foam to $115 for the Concentrated Brightening Serum.

Manheimer noted that the brightening category is the largest category of skin care in Japan, “It makes up about $2.7 billion in retail sales,” she said, with Shiseido products claiming about 20 percent of that market. Tomoko Yamagishi-Dressler, vice president of marketing for Shiseido Prestige Brands, said the origins of this phenomenon go back to a time when fair skin was a sign of status in Japan and Asia. “There was a time when only 1 percent of the population was able to avoid being outside because most people worked outside,” she said.

This story first appeared in the May 6, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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So how do products like those offered in the White Lucent line translate into the U.S. market? Manheimer said the success (or failure) of the line lies in two areas: the way the products are presented to American consumers and the amount of assistance at-counter Shiseido can provide. “A big piece of it is education, and that’s why we’re using the term brightening,” she said, referring to the product descriptions. “It’s also about what we do at-counter, explaining what [the line] is — it’s about clarity versus whitening. People are really wanting clearer, brighter skin, which makes it timely to launch this.”

The launch of White Lucent will be supported by co-op advertising, sampling and in-store programs, according to the company. Model Anouk will appear in print ads for the line, which will break in the October issues of women’s fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines.

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