Byline: P.B.

NEW YORK — Discounted as a long shot only a decade ago, skin care for men has firmly established itself, at least at the Aramis division of Estee Lauder Cos.
Under its Lab Series for Men banner, Aramis plans to launch its fourth skin care item. It’s called Stop Shine Oil Control Formula, and is designed to eliminate shiny spots on men’s faces. It will be shipped in June.
Barbara Jasinski, vice president of marketing, said men are particularly eager to eliminate the shine from the T-zone area of their faces.
The new product follows three previous launches.
Aramis first broke through to men on the skin care front in 1995 with Lift Off, an alpha-hydroxy acid exfoliator and moisturizer. That was followed by Sharp Shooter, designed to nourish the skin with vitamins. The latest launch was Eye Time’s debut at Bloomingdale’s, which was followed by a full rollout this year.
Eye Time, designed to minimize dark circles under the eyes, has generated stronger than expected sales, according to Pamela Baxter, vice president and national sales manager.
Industry sources estimate it’s doing 10 percent of Lab Series’ volume, which amounts to nearly $15 million at retail. That would put retail sales of Eye Time at nearly $1.5 million.
The new antishine product is expected to do 5 percent of the brand’s volume, or approaching $750,000 at retail, in the first year. Lab Series has a distribution of 1,300 department store doors.
Robert Nielsen, president of the Aramis and Prescriptives divisions, said Lab Series is Aramis’s second-fastest-growing line behind the Tommy Hilfiger fragrances, which have been scoring gains of 40 to 50 percent a month.
Lab Series has been chalking up gains of 25 to 30 percent annually for the last three years, Nielsen said, and he expects the momentum to accelerate to 30 to 32 percent in Lauder’s next fiscal year, beginning July 1.
Without divulging dollar figures, Nielsen speculated that by the year 2005, Lab Series could be doing a larger volume than is now being done by the core Aramis fragrance business, which industry sources estimate at nearly $40 million at retail.
Five years ago, Nielsen added, Lab Series was doing only 15 percent of the core business and now the proportion is 40 percent.
Nielsen said only five or six years ago, Aramis was basically selling fragrance and adding skin care.
“Now it’s changing,” he said.
Lab Series has established its own constituency. That reality became evident when executives learned from focus groups that consumers were put off by the fragrance connotations of the Aramis name. So the identification was taken off the Lab Series tester.
“We were sending out a funny message,” Nielsen said. “As we took the Aramis name off, the business responded dramatically.”
The new product, Stop Shine, at $24.50 for a 1.7-oz. pump bottle, is expected on counters by July.
Matthew Teri, director of product development worldwide for Aramis, said oily, shiny skin is caused by hormones. Silica extracts are included to sop up excess oil and sea algae derivatives are in the formula to retrain sebum glands not to produce more. Beta-hydroxy acid was added as an exfoliator to retexture the surface of the skin and cleanse pores. Finally, Teri added, the lotion is designed to hydrate the skin, so it isn’t left “taut and dry.”
Baxter said the launch will be promoted with small co-op newspaper ads. Since more men are buying treatment for themselves, there will be in-store sampling and direct mail.
Lab Series has grown to the point that a national ad campaign is finally financially feasible, said Nielsen, who added the company is thinking about such a campaign.
It could be a needed factor. Nielsen said Lab Series has an ingrown “cost of goods issue” since the prices are at least one-third lower than comparable women’s products, “because the traffic won’t pay any more.”

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