Le Petit Marseillais is sailing into the U.S. market.
Parent company Johnson & Johnson started rolling out product earlier this year and is launching an exclusive collection with Wal-Mart this month. In France, the brand is a hit. According to Nielsen, Le Petit Marseillais was the number-one body wash brand in France last year with a 17 percent market share. Johnson & Johnson is hoping it will have a similar popularity Stateside.
“Given the popularity [here] of things that are French, we think consumers are going to embrace it,” said Dawn Kidd, senior marketing director at Johnson & Johnson.
After acquiring the brand in 2006, Johnson & Johnson focused on rapid expansion throughout Europe. Le Petit Marseillais is now available in 23 European and Middle Eastern markets, its biggest aside from France being Russia, Turkey and Switzerland. “Now that we’ve really developed the brand fully [in Europe], we’re really looking to make it big in the U.S.,” Kidd said.
Le Petit Marseillais is rooted in an ingredient story that takes inspiration from Provence, featuring regionally inspired scents such as Lavender Honey and Orange Blossom. Natural ingredients such as aloe, argan oil, marine minerals, beeswax, sweet almond, Mediterranean algae and olive oil are utilized in the formulations. The hero product is body wash, but there are also hand creams, body milks and balms and hand soaps, along with an olive-oil-based bar soap the brand is known for. Prices range from $4.99 to $6.99 for body washes. At Wal-Mart, the collection’s prices run from $3.99 to $7.97.
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A selection of five washes rolled out to mass U.S. retailers in January, including CVS, Walgreens, Target, Amazon, Wal-Mart and Jet.com. This month, an exclusive assortment of the brand’s other body-care products, including an exclusive body wash scent — Mandarin Lime — will launch in Wal-Mart’s specialty bath section.
Johnson & Johnson is relying on a digital and mobile-based campaign to generate buzz, tapping influencers such as Love Taza to promote the brand’s entry into the U.S. via their social channels.
“For the U.S. [mass] consumer, the French lifestyle is seen as having great values, very focused on family, a love of nature, and there’s a sophistication about [French people],” said Kidd, who noted the appeal of Le Petit Marseillais is its sensorial and experiential qualities. “All of these things appeal to consumers who have traveled to France, or wish that they could.”
For Johnson & Johnson, Le Petit Marseillais could be a boon to its U.S. body-care business. According to IRI data ending the last 52 weeks ending Feb. 19, Johnson & Johnson is just barely trailing front-runner Kao in the hand-and-body lotion category, holding 13.5 percent market share compared with Kao’s 14.2 percent.