Byline: Jennifer Weil

PARIS — In France, a woman’s age is sacred. So French beauty manufacturers and retailers traditionally have lured maturing women with their products, and sidestepped focusing on age altogether in advertising and promotions.
But this trend is changing — slowly. “It’s beginning [to evolve],” said Catherine Matras, an instructor of beauty at French perfumery chain Marie-Jeanne Godard.
“Nivea began it by using a beautiful fiftysomething woman with white hair two or three years ago in its ads, and Clarins more recently began using pictures of women with wrinkles.”
Women’s longevity is on the rise. According to a study by Shiseido, while only about 12 percent of the French population was over 65 in 1950, more than 25 percent will be by the year 2050.
“French women are starting to talk about wrinkles. Those 40-to-50-year-olds are no longer considered ‘older women.’ They’re more comfortable with themselves than they were in the past. I think that Lancome’s using Isabella Rossellini in its ads had an enormous affect on this level,” Matras said.
“Before, it was a bit taboo to speak of a mature woman,” said Nathalie Louvit, director of the skin care laboratory at Helena Rubinstein.
But many beauty companies here — among them, Guerlain, Yves Saint Laurent Parfums, Helena Rubinstein and Parfums Christian Dior — still say they don’t cater to older women, per se.
Nonetheless, anti-aging products — which are traditionally for older women — are a priority.
Guerlain launched its antiwrinkle product Anti-Age 12M in January 1997 and expanded the line this February to include an antiwrinkle eye product.
And YSL Parfums takes a similar tack. Though it doesn’t directly market to older women, it is capitalizing on its antiwrinkle products and launched Haute Fermete in February.
In the U.S., where YSL Beaute is distributed in only 160 doors, the new product was expected to do $700,000 to $1 million at wholesale in its first five months, according to industry estimates.
In France, the company expects the cream to land among the top five anti-aging treatments. In October 1997, Helena Rubinstein launched Face Sculptor, which is present in most markets worldwide.
“It is the first time that we associated antiwrinkle and firming properties in an eye cream,” Louvit said.
Capture Essential is the latest anti-age rollout at Parfums Christian Dior. The serum can be used for prevention or treatment, according to Stephanie Lalande-Revilleon, product manager for the skin care division.
“We don’t speak of age at the company,” she continued.
Beauty company Carita, which has an array of anti-aging products on the market, is reevaluating its approach to mature women.
“By the beginning of next year, there will be a different way in which we present and communicate our products to older women,” said a spokeswoman, who added she couldn’t be more specific. “Fifty-year-old women take care of themselves now. That’s not the same as how it was 10 or 20 years ago.”
A handful of French companies are targeting the niche of premenopausal and menopausal women.
Lierac this year added a stockkeeping unit to its Arkeskin line, which was launched 18 months ago in pharmacies worldwide, except in the U.S.
According to French tracking firm IMS, Arkeskin is the number one brand in France in the anti-aging category.
It also contributed 10 percent to Lierac’s 1997 sales, which were $35 million, said Farida Almadovar, Lierac’s general director of France and international.
Arkeskin’s face and body products use an ingredient derived from mother-of-pearl, said Almadovar. She claimed the derivative helps offset the lack of estrogren in premenopausal and menopausal women’s bodies.
Vichy has had a five-sku brand called Quintessence on the market since 1993. And Pierre Fabre added an eight-unit Argane line, specifically for premenopausal or menopausal women, to its Galenic brand in January 1997.
The face products are on sale in pharmacies and parapharmacies (stores that specialize in nonprescription treatments) in France and parts of Europe, and have an active ingredient derived from a tree grown in Morocco.
Shiseido, whose motto has long been “Graceful Aging,” will launch three new anti-age products in Europe and the U.S. this fall. These include a Hair Energizing Complex at $40 for 6.7 oz., a Benefiance enriched revitalizing foundation at $40 for 1.2 oz. and a Bio-Performance intensive clarifying essence at $65 for 1.3 oz.
“It’s about a positive self for the 21st century,” said Edward Torkia, vice president and general manager of Shiseido Europe.

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