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Philosophy Takes Scientific Positioning

Under Coty and Jill Scalamandre the brand is returning to Cristina Carlino’s original focus — skin care.

Will Philosophy’s body-and-soul positioning play in the serious skin-care arena?

Coty Inc., which purchased the brand in 2010, certainly hopes so. When Philosophy opened its doors in 1996 in Arizona, the line was known primarily as a bath-and-body range emblazoned with feel-good slogans penned by founder Cristina Carlino.

That was then, this is now. Inspiring and cutesy can only go so far in building a major brand, and clearly Philosophy’s parent Coty wants it to be that. So now the emphasis is more on the scientific than the soulful, and Philosophy is about skin care rather than the bath. The company’s latest launch underlines that strategy, shrinking the inspirational messaging to a tiny font on sophisticated frosted jars and letting the high-tech ingredients speak for themselves.

While Carlino had founded Biomedic — a dermatology-based skin-care line which is said to have pioneered the “lunchtime peel” — in 1990 at the age of 29, she sold it in 2001 to L’Oréal in favor of concentrating on Philosophy, its messages and her daughter, Grace.

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Under Coty and Jill Scalamandre, now chief marketing officer of the group’s skin-care division, the brand is returning to Carlino’s original focus. Skin care accounts for about 58 percent of the brand’s overall sales, and that percentage will likely continue to grow, especially as Coty has stated publicly that it is aiming to diversify the group’s portfolio rather than depend on its traditional strength, fragrances.

The first effort in the new Philosophy, No Reason to Hide, launched in August, and Scalamandre aims to continue that skin-care charge with Renewed Hope in a Jar, an evolution of one of the brand’s first skin-care products, Hope in a Jar. Renewed Hope in a Jar will also launch what Scalamandre describes as an effort to upgrade Philosophy packaging, although she noted the brand does not have plans to repackage the entire line.

The original Hope in a Jar launched in brick-and-mortar distribution in 1996 and was one of the first products Philosophy sold on QVC when the brand began selling there in 1999, noted Scalamandre.

The addition, Renewed Hope in a Jar, is an advanced lightweight moisturizer that Scalamandre describes as the skin-care equivalent to long-wear lipstick formulas, and will be previewed Sunday on QVC and then on QVC.com and philosophy.com before it enters brick-and-mortar distribution in January. Philosophy is sold in 2,827 doors globally, roughly 2,400 of which are U.S. department and specialty store doors. The brand is also sold in the U.K., Southeast Asia, Belgium, Hong Kong and Australia.

“Philosophy is a brand constantly on a journey of self-renewal,” Scalamandre said, sounding like one of the brand’s own slogans. She added that “2015 will be a year of renewal for Philosophy, and this launch will be leading that charge. We believe multilayer technologies, as we’re debuting with this launch, will be a major movement in the skin-care industry going forward.”

Designed primarily for women in the 25- to 45-year-old age range, Renewed Hope in a Jar moisturizer, priced $47 for 2 oz., is intended to address concerns including fine lines, dull skin tone and enlarged pores. The multilayer delivery technology is powered by alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, in three sizes to allow for different rates of skin penetration, explained David Booth, vice president of global skin care for Coty. The AHAs used are glycolic, citric, mandelic and hyaluronic acids, as well as blue agave and Asian fruit extracts.

A complementary eye cream, using much of the same technology but with yeast extracts rather than AHAs to do the heavy lifting, will also be sold. It will retail for $51 for 0.5 oz. The brand will later launch dry-skin and SPF-infused versions of the moisturizer and eye cream, said Scalamandre.

While Coty executives declined comment on projected sales, industry sources estimated that Renewed Hope in a Jar could do $15 million at retail in its first year on counter. A national print ad is slated to drop in January fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines, and more than five million samples are planned. As previously reported, the brand will begin its commitment to donate 1 percent of all Philosophy sales — all products in all channels of distribution — to mental-health charities with this launch, although the brand began doing the same this month on its Web site.