L’Oréal Paris is reinvigorating its skin-care product assortment with an edgier lineup, despite the lackluster nature of the category’s market.
Two skin-care ranges will launch in July on the L’Oréal Paris Skin Expert platform, the brand’s skin-care initiative introduced this year.
“We’re continuing to invest in our historical strength in antiaging, but we’re broadening the footprint of the brand to take an even bigger stake in cleansing and to introduce this new point of view on antiaging plus brightening,” said Tim Coolican, deputy general manager of L’Oréal Paris.
The Skin Expert platform, which includes a revamped web site complete with skin consultation tools and an ingredient library, was developed to help shoppers navigate skin-care options in the mass market. The outer packaging of each product is labeled with the specific effects — like brightening, detoxifying or mattifying — it is designed to impart. The ranges will be the first introduced with the Skin Expert branding, which also appears on the outer packaging.
“It [is] a really saturated market and [consumers are] confused as to how to navigate it,” said Coolican.
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L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Bright Reveal, which consists of four dermatology-inspired stockkeeping units containing glycolic acid, retinol and vitamin C, includes a day and night moisturizer, an exfoliating cleanser and a set of 30 glycolic peel pads.
The other is Pure Clay, a range of three clay-based treatment masks, said to detoxify and rid skin of impurities. Each mask incorporates a different kind of exotic-sounding clay — kaolinite, montmorillonite and ghassoul — along with additional ingredients like red algae, charcoal and eucalyptus.
The brand is hoping the lines will bring in Millennials and cross-channel shoppers. “[The products] are addressing new audiences for us,” said Coolican, who noted that shoppers will recognize the clay masks for their cleansing benefits. The masks are targeted at Millennials, and though the Bright Reveal line was developed for women ages 35 to 55, Coolican noted the dual-effect — brightening and wrinkle-fighting — will bring in a customer not using traditional antiaging products. He also noted that though historically L’Oréal Paris has focused on antiaging, it will extend its concentration to other areas of skin care.
“An interesting focus for us is cleansers and the science behind cleansing — what it is that we’re missing and what it is that we need,” said Dr. Rocio Rivera, scientific communications director for L’Oréal Expert/Paris who noted a proprietary study found that Millennials are using four to five cleansing products in their skin-care routines. “It’s important we take care of her needs [and] take care of her skin throughout the entire journey.”
Industry sources predict the new lines will do $40 million at retail in their first year, but L’Oréal Paris declined to confirm or deny specific figures.
For now, the skin-care market is stagnant. In 2015, prestige sales were sluggish, growing at a rate of only 3 percent, while mass facial skin-care flatlined. Despite skin care’s challenges — Millennial shoppers have lost interest in traditional antiaging products and the prestige market is oversaturated with new lines — industry sources suggest that the timing is right for L’Oréal Paris to increase its sales volume and presence in the category.
The brand was ranked number-three in facial skin care in the U.S. mass market last year, according to a report from Kline Group.
L’Oréal Paris is ramping up skin care now, said Carrie Mellage, vice president of consumer products at Kline Group, because Olay, the perpetual mass front-runner, is losing steam as parent Procter & Gamble cleans up Olay’s product assortment. Now, the big competition’s eyes are squarely off the ball.
“Skin care is one of those areas that’s been the Achilles heel for L’Oréal Paris; they’re so strong in makeup and hair care, but [in] skin-care they’ve not gained a number-one or number-two spot in mass,” said Mellage. “They have been gaining share in the mass segment, where Olay has been losing share, so they may see this as an opportunity to gain some ground.”
“We’ve seen the strongest growth areas in the market in exactly where they’re playing…where the strengths of prestige are,” said Karen Grant, senior vice president and global industry analyst at The NPD Group. She said sales of clinical and natural and organic lines are up 10 percent in the prestige market.
“Skin care has been oversaturated with all of the doctor brands in the prestige market,” said Martin Okner, a managing director at SHM Corporate Navigators, referring to the doctor-endorsed lines favored by Millennials. “It’s really an opportune time to capture that cross-channel shopper who might be open to getting that same product at a lower cost.”
But other industry sources warn that following the trends isn’t always a winning strategy. One noted that chasing trends was exactly what got Olay into trouble.
Historically though, L’Oréal Paris has a solid track record of converting a prestige trend to mass market hit. “It’s on trend faster than most brands,” noted one retailer, who said the research L’Oréal Group puts into its prestige lines often shows up in its mass brands with successful results, particularly in makeup like last year’s L’Oréal True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation.
Mellage agreed that a trend-driven strategy “makes sense” for L’Oréal Paris, but admitted that with Neutrogena standing between the brand and the number-one spot, there will be plenty of work to do.
Still, industry sources agree that L’Oréal Paris is on the right track.
“Companies need to raise the bar and adopt more of a flavor of what’s happening in prestige,” said Okner. “Lifting old names out of the trademarks [and] just reinventing it with some new packaging, those days are gone.”