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Lancome Debuts Skin Transformer

With its latest product launch, Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate, Lancome is hoping to establish a new definition of skin care.

With its latest product launch, Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate, Lancôme is hoping to establish a new definition of skin care in the prestige beauty market.

The company is billing Génifique as a concentrate intended not only to make skin look more youthful, but also to actually make skin cells return to the protein levels of significantly younger skin.

“This is not a moisturizer or an exfoliator,” said Odile Roujol, Lancôme’s global president. “This goes deeper. We think we have a breakthrough of beauty: This product boosts gene activity and brings your skin back to the protein levels of a younger skin.”

And the market opportunity is considerable. While Lancôme executives declined comment, industry sources estimated that Génifique could do $100 million at retail globally in the first year, with about $25 million of that figure expected to be done in the U.S. in the brand’s 2,000 department and specialty store doors. The product will launch in all global markets except Asia in April; Asia will get Génifique in September.

Although it is admittedly a very tough economic time, Serge Jureidini, president of Lancôme USA, believes that Génifique’s overall prospects are strong. “We’ve learned that, no matter how tough things get at retail, innovation still sells,” he said, noting that the company already has secured seven patents on the product, which is based on more than 10 years of research. “Génifique is our most technologically advanced product in this category to date, and we believe it will be our biggest product launch of the year.”

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Eventually, the product’s technology is likely to make its way into other Lancôme products, he added. “This is the first generation, and we expect it to reinforce Lancôme’s positioning as a skin care leader,” he said.

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Part of what is fueling high hopes for the product is its potential user pool. Rather than a firm age target, Lancôme executives say the product — which is self-adjusting — is suitable for users “ages seven to 77,” said Roujol. “It works on all skin types, all ages.”

While Lancôme’s average user is 45, Génifique is likely to draw what Lancôme calls a “transversal” audience, noted Cheryl Vitali, senior vice president of marketing for Lancôme USA. “This product is different in two ways for us,” she said, noting that Génifique is intended to deliver significantly improved tone, texture, luminosity and elasticity inside of four weeks. “It has a breadth of appeal not often seen, especially in skin care, because it boosts exactly the proteins the user needs at any given age. It’s shifting the way skin reacts.”

According to George Rivera, senior scientific liaison for Lancôme, that is because the three key genes and two key proteins Génifique targets take in only as much of the gene-boosting concentrate as they need. “The concentrate adapts to individual needs and only to the levels needed,” he said, adding that it’s impossible to overdose on the concentrate.

In a nutshell, the formula — driven by two main molecules — is designed to enhance the environment of skin cell genes, which in turn sends an RNA messenger to nurture protein growth in the top stratum corneum layer.

Lancôme researchers teamed up with the Centre Hospitalier d’Université Laval in Quebec to measure the product’s efficacy using proteomic and genomic instrumentation. This testing measures the levels of protein and genes in the skin, noted Rivera. More than 4,400 genes and 1,300 proteins were analyzed in the process, he said.

Génifique, which will retail for $78 for a 1-oz. bottle, is also intended to be used in tandem with a serum, moisturizer and/or an exfoliator — not to replace any of them, noted Vitali.

Advertising will begin running in April fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines and in select online media outlets, while an extensive sampling campaign also is planned. While Lancôme executives declined comment, industry sources estimated that Lancôme would spend between $10 million and $15 million in the U.S. promoting and advertising Génifique in the product’s first year on counter.