LAUDER TURNS UP HEAT ON SUN CARE
Byline: Soren Larson
NEW YORK — With sun care representing a solid but small portion of its volume, Estee Lauder is overhauling its sun lines to warm up sales this spring.
The company’s sun protection and self-tanning brands have been reformulated and augmented with new items, and each will soon be the subject of a new round of promotions.
“We’re always trying to improve upon what we already have,” said Dianne Osborne, vice president of skin care marketing for Estee Lauder USA and Canada. “Since the late Eighties, the technology for these products has been changing dramatically and very quickly.”
Lauder’s sun products currently account for 8 to 10 percent of the brand’s skin care volume, Osborne said. With Lauder’s treatment business estimated at $250 million at wholesale, that would mean sun care had sales of as much as $25 million last year.
The category crept ahead last year with only a slight increase, Osborne said, but with the new efforts, sales should grow in the double-digits this year — which could mean topping $30 million.
The self-tanning line, which should generate about 75 percent of the volume, is changing its name; formerly called Self-Action, the word Sunless has been added because “for some people it wasn’t clear what kind of products they were,” said Osborne.
The SuperTan items in the Self-Action Sunless range, which contain fruit acids to act as exfoliators, now have a new acid formula.
“This means a better, more natural color and a more even distribution,” said Dominique Szabo, senior vice president of product development for Estee Lauder Worldwide.
According to the executives, these benefits address consumers’ primary concerns with self-tanners: that the shades will look unnatural and the color will be uneven or splotchy.
The new formula dries in 15 minutes and produces full color in an hour, Szabo said, as compared to the two hours needed for the older products. In addition, moisturizers and antioxidants have been added to provide treatment claims.
“The product was a little drying before,” said Szabo. “Now there is no reason to have concern.”
Adding to the existing Medium and Dark shades, the company has created Extra Dark, an intensity which Szabo said had not been possible with the old formula.
“People have so many different tastes when it comes to putting on products,” said Szabo. “We need to have something to fit every need.”
The new products will be launched around March 15, with the older items being phased out at that time. Two products — Self-Action Tanning Creme and Body Smoother — will remain unchanged.
Prices will remain the same, ranging from $17.50 for the Creme or Body Smoother to $25 for a 4.2-oz. SuperTan in lotion or spray.
A new round of national advertising for the Self-Action line — featuring a shot of an artificially bronzed Elizabeth Hurley and the tagline, “The only color you’ll turn is tan” — will first appear in April magazines, while television spots will air in 80 regional markets beginning in May.
Radio advertising is also planned, along with an extensive sampling effort. Around 350,000 0.5-oz. samples of SuperTan will be distributed in stores, Osborne said.
The sampling is crucial, she noted, because “with a product like this, seeing is believing.”
Meanwhile, Lauder’s Advanced Suncare collection has also been reformulated, with a “micronized” titanium dioxide that the company claims won’t turn white after exposure to water. As with the self-tanners, the new versions enter stores around March 15.
The updated ingredients act as a “mirror” to reflect the sun’s UVA, UVB and infrared rays, Szabo said.
The company has also added an SPF 8 product, whereas before the lowest was SPF 15. “We kept getting requests for ‘one lower,’ especially in international markets,” noted Osborne.
A new product called After Sun Rehydrator has been added to the line at $16.50 for a 6.7-oz. bottle. The rest of the line is priced between $17.50 and $19.50.
While Advanced Suncare will be the subject of new promotional attention, much of it will take the form of in-store efforts, Osborne said.
She would not provide specific figures, but according to industry sources, Lauder is spending more than $5 million on the sun category this year.
“Most of the media spending is behind the Sunless line, which is the bigger business,” Osborne said. “Self-tanning is still growing faster, and that can only continue.”