Byline: Chantal Tode

NEW YORK — Drugstore aisles are getting better looking all the time.
That’s because not only are retailers dressing up their stores with sleek new fixturing, but manufacturers continue to introduce well-conceived lines that have higher prices and better-looking packaging than usually associated with the mass market. The trend will continue next week at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace in Philadelphia, when several products will be introduced that fit the bill, including a hair care line from John Frieda and a bath and body line from newcomer State of Mind.
John Frieda’s entry, Sheer Blonde, takes a glamorous approach to niche marketing with hair care designed for women who have blonde or highlighted hair. The range of shampoos, conditioners and styling aids, which will ship Sept. 1, is intended to meet the needs of the 50 percent of female consumers either born blonde or who highlight their hair, said Gail Federici, president of John Frieda.
The Wilton, Conn., firm, which was founded by celebrity hair stylist John Frieda, demonstrated its dexterity at finding untapped niches with Frizz Ease, launched in 1991. The concept of a product for women with frizzy hair proved so popular that it has since been copied by a host of other marketers.
Federici, who said she believes Sheer Blonde will prove just as compelling as Frizz Ease, predicted the line would have a first-year wholesale volume of $10 million. The company plans to spend the same amount on its TV advertising budget for Sheer Blonde; the first ads are scheduled to appear in March 1999. A $1.5 million print campaign will start in January. She also predicted the line, which will be exclusive to drugstores in its first year, would be in 15,000 to 20,000 doors.
Frieda and Federici, both brunettes, realized that women with blonde hair have a special attitude toward their golden locks, said Federici. Blondes view their hair as an important asset, she noted, adding they also have specific needs not met by other drugstore products.
For example, in focus groups, blondes said they were satisfied with the color of their hair during the summer, but said it darkens and becomes brassy in the fall. They also complained that styling aids tend to make their hair dull.
Salon treatments are available to solve those problems, but Frieda challenged its manager of research and development, Joseph Cincotta, Ph.D., to find a solution in an at-home line that doesn’t use chemical processes or colorants, said Federici.
Cincotta discovered that the minerals in tap water, which build up on the hair with frequent shampooing, are what causes blonde hair to darken, and he found a solution.
The result is Sheer Blonde Highlight Activating Shampoo, which contains flexan, an ingredient that removes minerals without drying out hair the way other stripping or chelating agents do, said Cincotta. John Frieda claims to be the only hair care company in the U.S. currently using this ingredient.
The low-detergent, mild shampoo promises, after several uses, to whiten and brighten blonde or highlighted hair by ridding it of any buildup. “This is not lightening hair, but you are going to reach your bleached natural lightness,” said Cincotta. It will be available in two versions: one for platinum to champagne blondes, and one for honey to caramel highlights. Each will come in an 8.45-oz. tube.
Conditioners also can darken blonde hair, said Cincotta, by leaving behind resins that accumulate. Sheer Blonde’s two conditioners are said to be so light that there is no residue. The Instant Conditioner and Highlight Enchancer will come in one version for platinum blondes and another for caramel blondes; each will be available in an 8.7-oz. tube.
The final piece in Sheer Blonde’s equation for brightening blonde hair is two styling aids that have violet-colored formulas. The inspiration for Golden Opportunity Glossing and Grooming Creme and Blonde Ambition Dual Action Mousse came from makeup, said Federici, explaining violet is frequently used in foundations and powders to reduce skin’s sallowness.
Sheer Blonde’s styling aids contain small percentages of violet tones in formulas that are meant to be left on the hair, thereby reducing brassy tones and whitening hair.
Golden Opportunity will be available in a 4-oz. tube and in trial packettes. Blonde Ambition will be come in a 7.5-oz. bottle.
A third styling product, Spun Gold Shaping and Highlighting Balm, contains micro-crystalline gold particles in a nongreasy balm that is meant to add shape and shine and to intensify highlights.
The shampoos, conditioners and Golden Opportunity will be $6.50 each; the mousse and balm will cost $5.50 each.
The lavender, sheer white and gold packaging of several Sheer Blonde items features stylish images of blonde women; the packaging of the remaining products is adorned with the word “Blonde” climbing up the front in opaque lettering.
To promote Sheer Blonde, the company will send two stylists involved in the line’s development to accompany Frieda on a media tour. Colorist Christophe Robin has put his eye for color and his chemical knowledge to work on the tresses of celebrities such as Catherine Deneuve and Kristin-Scott Thomas. Sally Hershberger is a Los Angeles stylist who has tended the golden locks of Meg Ryan and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Beginning this fall, the trio will travel around the country and make appearances on local talk shows. The firm used a similar strategy to launch Frizz Ease, said Federici, adding that this is an important element of the launch because of the need to educate consumers about how Sheer Blonde works.
Another line making its debut at NACDS is State of Mind, a 54-stockkeeping-unit bath, body, hair and spa line whose creators — Colleen Booth and Valerie Stricker — said they drew from years of experience creating private label skin care for department stores. State of Mind is a division of Creative Beauty Innovation, a skin care manufacturer based in Dallas, and the company’s first branded venture.
Stricker said the intention is to bring a “very contemporary, very high-end and very approachable” brand to a sophisticated 25-to-40-year-old consumer whom they believe is tired of the plethora of raspberry and floral scents in the mass market.
The initial items will be ready to ship Aug. 1, and Stricker and Booth expect they will be carried in 1,400 doors by December and another 1,100 doors next year. They predict wholesale volume of $5 million by December and another $12 million next year. By the year 2000, the two expect State of Mind will be in 6,000 doors and generate a wholesale volume of $26 million.
The line consists of five fragrances intended to elicit feelings of nostalgia tied to specific experiences. For example, Gatherings is a warm cocoa, nutmeg and vanilla scent that is supposed to recall Sunday dinners and good times with family and friends. Milestone is a mixture of sandalwood, cedar and apple, meant to evoke life’s past celebrations. The other scents are Embrace, Sanctuary and Home Spa.
Stricker and Booth envision State of Mind as a lifestyle brand and eventually would like to extend it to a wide range of categories, from skin care to baby care.
The first four scents will be available in body lotion, shower gel, hand cream, body dew, bath bars, bath sands, candles, incense and roll-on fragrance. Home Spa will be available in massage balm, face and body mud, body exfoliator, two foot treatments, candles, two shampoos, conditioner, an eye treatment and tub teas.
All the items contain Synergy 5, a blend of natural ingredients including gingko biloba, licorice and vitamins A and E.
The line also includes two nutritional supplements — Charge the Mind Tabs and Clear the Mind Tabs.
Retail prices will range from $1.49 to $9.99.
The line’s packaging reflects Stricker and Booth’s desire to create products sophisticated enough to be sold in department stores, said Booth. Frosted plastic bottles in sleek shapes are highlighted with brushed aluminum accents and minimal printing in white. All the packaging has a brushed aluminum State of Mind logo — a circle inside a crescent moon.
Advertising for the line will attempt to emphasize a sophisticated approach to bath and body. Four full-page print ads have been created using sepia-toned photographs of life scenes, each meant to represent a scent in the line. There is a family having a photograph taken and the copy reads: “Gatherings…Feels Like Home.” Another ad shows an empty lakeside dock and reads: “Sanctuary…Feels Like Peace.” The State of Mind logo and a few items from the line will be pictured in a corner.
The ads are scheduled to appear in the October, November and December issues of Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Glamour. The company has budgeted $500,000 for advertising this year.
Stricker and Booth plan to be spokeswomen for the brand and hope to communicate the message that the line was created “by women for women.”
They have designed a variety of merchandising units, several of which will have space for brochures about the line.

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