Even when heading into serious categories like skin care, Benefit Cosmetics founders Jean and Jane Ford insist on doing it with a sense of humor.
This story first appeared in the February 4, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Hence the name: B.right Radiant Skincare by Benefit, intended to cross Benefit’s irreverent spirit with a seriously hydrating and brightening skin care line.
“It leaves you so radiant, you’ll need a dimmer switch,” cracked Jane, pointing out that the company is also using the phrase in its promotion of the line. Added Jean: “We believe there are customers still in search of skin care solutions that are approachable, affordable, easy to understand and an upgrade from mass, but not at a doctor-high-tech level. Our skin care strategy is a global initiative and we are firmly committed to maintaining our leadership in the makeup category. We can easily build incremental sales by selling a makeup customer one or two skin care products.”
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Aurelian Lis, general manager of North America for Benefit, as well as Eric Perrier, executive vice president of research and development for LVMH Parfums et Cosmétiques, worked closely with the Fords to develop the formulas for the nine-product line, which will be launched in April. And, Lis noted, they are quite serious about the business, especially in widening Benefit’s piece of the Asian skin care pie — a key reason for the launch. Lis declined comment on sales projections, although industry sources estimated the market opportunity for Benefit could be as much as $50 million at retail globally for the brand, which is said to generate worldwide sales of about $500 million globally.
“Benefit is clearly a makeup line, but we see skin care as an accessory to makeup,” said Lis. “We have consumers around the world who are obsessed with Benefit, and we got a lot of requests for the next level of perfect skin.” Lis noted that Benefit’s business grew more than 40 percent overall in Asia last year, and the skin care line could easily push an increase of that much or more in this next year, given how passionate Asian consumers are about skin care. He declined to discuss skin care sales projections for Asia.
The brand is known for cheeky names — Erase Paste, anyone? — although the names will be kept (slightly) more serious for the skin care, primarily because the brand is making such a big push into Asia with this line. “That market wants more straightforward names, because some of our humor doesn’t translate easily from English to other languages,” said Jean.
Two of the top products — Triple Performing Facial Emulsion SPF 15 PA++, $28, and Total Moisture Facial Cream, $38 — share the proprietary Tri-Radiance Complex, which is said to brighten skin and help create a hydrating reservoir. According to Perrier, it includes vegetable-based sugar and glycol derivatives and hyaluronic acid, and boosts hydration in the skin as much as 73 percent within two hours after application. The line also includes Moisture Prep Toning Lotion, $29; Foamingly Clean Facial Wash, $21; It’s Potent Eye Cream, $32; Refined Finish Facial Polish, $22; Remove It Makeup Remover, $21 and Ultra Radiance Facial Re-hydrating Mist, $26. A reformulated Boo Boo Zap medicated acne treatment, $16, will be relaunched this fall.
The bottles and jars are made of glass and heavy plastic, depending on the product, and are reminiscent of vintage containers. Copy on each spells out in precise detail the benefits provided by the product. Outer packaging is adorned with hand-drawn whimsical patterns, and the pale blues and greens are intended to evoke water. Color-coded bands denote categories — aqua for moisturizing and peridot for cleansers, as an example.
“We’ve had brightening makeup products for years,” said Lis. “Our retail partners — Sephora, Macy’s, our 15 boutiques — see us as a bridge. The skin care interacts with the makeup. High-tech antiaging is not who we are and not what people expect from us. In fact, I think we will be the first line with a lamp shade on the model’s head in brand imagery.”
The line will be available in about 2,000 doors globally, and about 900 doors in North America. While national advertising isn’t planned, the brand plans extensive sampling and has an intensive social media campaign in the works, said Lis. The line will continue to evolve and add more stockkeeping units, he said.