Benefit is aiming to add a breath of fresh air to the foundation category this spring with its Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow lineup.

This story first appeared in the January 13, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The introduction marks the first time the brand has done a liquid foundation, said Aurelian Lis, general manager of Benefit’s North American business.

“We’re famous for complexion perfection, but didn’t have a liquid foundation,” added Julie Bell, executive vice president of global marketing for Benefit. “We started brainstorming three years ago, and knew that we wanted something that brightened and hydrated skin, left it luminous, but also natural looking. We also wanted an SPF. We decided that because oxygen is what naturally breathes life into the skin, it would be amazing if we could come up with an oxygen complex. This is a game changer.”

The foundation range is a brightening formula infused with the brand’s proprietary Oxygen Wow Hydrating Complex. The complex is said to boost cellular respiration for a plumping effect, and also includes vitamin C and vitamin E derivatives for their antioxidant properties. The finish is buildable from light to medium coverage.

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The line includes nine shades, ranging from ivory to a deep nutmeg shade. Each retails for $34 for 1 oz.

Despite the serious science, the shade descriptions are pure Benefit: “I’m pure for sure” Ivory, “Cheers to me” Champagne and “I’m so money” Honey, among them. “We want foundation to be fun — and to make people smile,” said Lis.

Each foundation has a corresponding Hello Flawless Custom Powder Cover-Up, a product line that is already on counter.

Benefit will promote the range digitally as well as on, noted Lis, adding that Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow is the brand’s key initiative for 2012. “We have a vibrant Facebook community and plan a strong push in social media,” he noted, adding that the brand will also experiment with small consumer parties with the brand’s “Benefit Advocates” (superfans) to promote the line. The brand also plans cross-promotion between the new foundation, the existing powders and PoreFessional, a product which reduces the appearance of large pores.

The foundation will be available online on Feb. 15 and will enter brick-and-mortar doors on March 1. Globally, the brand is in about 2,000 specialty and department stores, with business split evenly between North America, Asia and Europe. In the U.S., doors include Sephora, Ulta, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Belk’s, in addition to the brand’s e-commerce site, Benefit also operates 19 freestanding boutiques, the most recent of which is one in Greenwich, Conn.

While Lis and Bell declined to comment on projected sales, industry sources estimated that the foundation line could do $70 million at retail in its first year on counter and that Benefit’s global sales for 2011 will reach $600 million.

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