NEW YORK — Many marketers will admit that exotic flavors and color trends are two of the largest driving forces behind consumer purchases of bath products. But Yardley, the 200-year-old English bath label, is out to change that by reinforcing the power that branded, innovative products can have on purchasing decisions. Moreover, it’s looking to spark some life into a sleepy category.

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

Wella, Yardley’s parent as of December 2001, has proven how even a global powerhouse can be nimble. In just six months the company acquired, staffed, developed, formulated and packaged a 69-item bath range to be distributed in the U.S. — although most would expect nothing less from the world’s second largest professional hair color company and the sixth largest prestige fragrance firm.

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Yardley, which in the U.S. operates under the CosCos division as part of the Intercosmetics business group of Wella, generates a modest $15.6 million in sales in U.S. mass stores — excluding Wal-Mart, according to Information Resources Inc. The brand is poised to double that figure next year, according to sources, by way of new products, new formulations and by providing a whole new reason for consumers to pick up soap.

“Now people buy bath products to match their towels,” said Stephanie Hayano, vice president, cosmetics and toiletries for CosCos, based in Hackensack, New Jersey. “We asked our R&D team to come up with new, innovative products and we chose the best of those items, products that can stand on their own, rather than taking one technology and applying it across a whole range.”

Yardley’s bath business touches three category sectors.

The specialty category, a sector that contributes 20 percent to Yardley’s bath business, is where the brand looks to gain most of its growth. To reinvigorate this sleepy sector, save for some private label innovations — “Judy Wray did an excellent job for Rite Aid,” Hayano praised — Yardley looks to establish a distinguished brand position with a sub-brand, Apothecare. Within Apothecare are products that fall under four families, Natural/Organic, Marine, Molton Metals and Ethereal. Some new products include Turn Up The Heat, a warming body scrub; Treat Me Bright, a pearlescence-infused body lotion; Wrapped In Pearls bath beads; and See Foam bath gel with blue algae. Prices for specialty products have jumped from $5 to between $7 and $9. Distribution of Yardley’s specialty bath products, now at 30 sku’s, is currently “limited;” the revamped products will command 12 feet of linear space in the specialty bath section of stores.

Then there’s the basic line, which is largely made up of bar soaps, lotions, and shower gels, that accounts for 65 percent of the brand’s sales. Hayano opted to maintain the product mix within this range, but upgraded the “very generic looking” packaging with new graphics and logos, and unified them under a sub-brand, Secret Cottage, “simultaneously marrying it back to its English heritage,” added Lisa Hershkowitz, Yardley’s product manager. The distribution base for Secret Cottage will remain between 20,000 and 30,000 doors, but packaging changes — like the small tweak that now allows for a vertical display of bar soap rather than a horizontal display — will facilitate more product on shelves. Secret Cottage, now at 39 sku’s, could take up as much as two to three linear feet in the commodity bath section of stores, up from one to two linear feet. Finally, there’s Originals, Yardley’s classic range, which makes up 15 percent of overall U.S. sales. Originals remains untouched by a makeover.

Retailers will get their first peek at the new goods at this year’s NACDS Marketplace, beginning Saturday, June 15, in San Diego. Yardley expects to launch the newly revamped brand in the second quarter of 2003. The company has set aside several million dollars for a media plan to support the launch and to sustain the brand throughout the year.”

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