Seventh Generation aims to enhance its entrance into natural personal care with a line of six plant-based oils called Boosts.
When John Replogle, former president and chief executive officer of Burt’s Bees, took the helm at Seventh Generation in 2011, it seemed likely that the Burlington, Vt.-based green household products company would make a move into natural personal care. The inevitable happened last year as Seventh Generation broke into the category with basics ranging from body washes to facial wipes, its best-selling products so far.
The Boosts line is the company’s first prominent effort to carve out a unique niche for its brand in mass.
“Our point of differentiation is around the care the brand takes in selecting only those ingredients that we know are safe for human and environmental health,” said Joey Bergstein, chief marketing officer at Seventh Generation. “As we have considered how we continue to build our presence in personal care, we have been looking deeply into botanical oils. There is a real movement in the market toward oils, and we think there is a natural fit with our brand to take the best of nature, concentrate it into an essential oil and really deliver to the consumer a benefit that is great for them and great for the world around them.”
Launching exclusively at 5,200 Walgreens doors in July, the Boosts are priced at $14.99 each — Seventh Generation personal care manager Alison Whritenour estimated oils found at department stores range from $40 to $60. They come in soothing, hydrating, clearing, firming, protecting and revitalizing varieties that feature the ingredients oat extract, jojoba, tea tree, baobab, prickly pear and rose hip, respectively, as well as a proprietary blend of oils. Whritenour believes the hydrating and soothing varieties will be top sellers.
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“They contain no water, so you are really getting the benefit of the botanical when you apply it to your skin,” said Whritenour. “They won’t clog pores.”
Whritenour and Bergstein acknowledge that mass customers might need a little education on the concept of facial oils. At Walgreens, there will be in-store samples, and the drugstore’s beauty advisor will be trained to communicate with shoppers about the benefits of oils. A tester display will sit at the beauty counter.
Seventh Generation will also leverage its current retail presence, such as in dish and detergent products, to direct shoppers check out its personal care items. “A lot of the consumers of personal care products would be people coming to our current range who are looking for natural solutions in other parts of their lives,” said Bergstein. “There is also an opportunity for a much broader group of consumers who are adopting natural products.”
While executives declined to discuss sales of the Boosts products, industry sources projected they would generate $2 million in their first year on the market. The company’s retail sales were in excess of $200 million last year across the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, baby and personal care categories. Seventh Generation has a long way to go if it wants catch up to Burt’s Bees’ personal care business. That brand, which was bought by The Clorox Co. in 2007 for $925 million, plus an additional $25 million in tax benefits, when its sales were anticipated to be $170 million, is now part of Clorox’s $901 million lifestyle division.
Speaking specifically about Seventh Generation’s natural personal care, Bergstein said, “We think it is potentially a really important part of our business going forward as we look at strategically where we play. We have a strong, robust business with laundry, dish and baby, and we see health and beauty being another key pillar to our business.”