Byline: Chantal Tode

NEW YORK — In this age of test tube marketing, skin care brands are promising more and more.
And the consumer, for her part, is taking a closer look at just who is on the other side of the promise.
That is the thinking behind an emerging segment of skin care products, which carry a dermatological banner.
Therapeutic skin care with a medical background inspires more confidence among consumers than products backed merely with a beauty image. At least that is the argument of several companies that are introducing dermatological lines this fall.
“If it’s a dermatological product, they feel it’s a good product because it’s medically based,” said Stacey Narotzky, director of cosmetic marketing at Fort Worth-based Medi-Cell Laboratories. The company was created in April with the goal of developing mass market dermatological skin care.
The $469 million mass market skin care category is currently dominated by beauty behemoths such as Oil of Olay and L’Oreal. But executives at several companies said they think skin care that combines a dermatology background with marketing campaigns styled after those done by beauty companies could have a big impact.
Several new lines trying this formula include: Hydrox-C from Medi-Cell, which is currently being shipped and combines alpha-hydroxy acids with vitamin C; DHEA 14 Super Moisturizing Cream from Gale Hayman Beverly Hills, which has been licensed from a group of dermatologists, and Le Pont, an anti-wrinkle patch from Doak Dermatologics.
These entries promise to be decidedly more glamorous than the dermatology brands to which the mass market is accustomed, which are often plainly packaged, promoted through doctors and found on the bottom shelf of drugstore skin care sections. The newer versions have colorful packaging, describe themselves with phrases such as “the bridge to more beautiful skin” and will be promoted directly to consumers.
Providing benefits beyond simple moisturization is essential for skin care in today’s marketplace, said executives at these companies.
“For years, a cream was a cream,” said David Pollock, one of the founders of Medi-Cell. “With the introduction of alpha-hydroxy acids, consumers realized they could actually have products that produced results. Now there is an increased expectation for skin care.
“I think anybody launching a new product needs that therapeutic side or you won’t get a repeat customer.”
This month Medi-Cell is launching Hydrox-C, a line of five products that purport to correct the visible signs of aging and promote new cell growth. “Hydrox-C is the first in a series of therapeutic lines,” said Pollock. “We are not looking for a short-term business.”
The Hydrox-C line consists of a 2-oz. 12 Hour Moisturizer; a 4-oz Daily Skin Preparation exfoliating cleanser; a 0.5-oz. Eye & Fine Line Relief eye mask; Advanced Hand Therapy, which is made up of a 2-oz. Hand Mask and a 4-oz. Hand Treatment; and a 1-oz. Intensive Cell Therapy. All the items carry a price of $9.95.
By combining vitamin C — the trendy ingredient of the moment — with the exfoliating benefits of AHAs, Hydrox-C promises additional results for skin, such as smoothing away wrinkles, reducing fine lines, boosting collagen levels, improving clarity and protecting skin from UV light.
The packaging for Hydrox-C announces that the company’s “dedicated team of experts has years of experience in developing advanced products for doctors, dermatologists and other medical professionals.”
Max Beasley, president of Medi-Cell Labs, said the company is expecting the line to be in 5,100 drug chains, grocery stores and mass merchandisers by the end of the year and in a total of 15,800 by the end of the first quarter next year. First-year sales are projected at between $8 million and $10 million wholesale.
The marketing program for Hydrox-C was designed with the intention of making a big splash at retail, said Pollock. For example, each item comes in brightly colored packaging that depicts a slice of orange on the front panel. In addition, retailers are being given a choice of several different prepacked displays or other merchandising vehicles. Finally, an advertising campaign and a sampling program will soon be in place.
While the advertising campaign has yet to be nailed down, Beasley said the line will be supported with print ads this fall in consumer magazines.
The budget for consumer advertising will be approximately $250,000, while three times as much will be spent on co-op advertising, said Beasley. “We’ll put a lot of focus on co-op advertising with individual retailers, because you get better results.”
Line extensions will be added to the Hydrox-C brand by next summer. Medi-Cell will also unveil a second line in the fall of 1998, said Pollock, who added that acne products constitute one of the areas being explored.
Also plugging the benefits of vitamin C is Doak Dermatologics, which will introduce Le Pont anti-wrinkle dermal patch this month. The patches are meant to be applied to the skin around the outer area of the eye and worn overnight. Le Pont purports to contain pre-measured, controlled-release doses of vitamin C that is delivered directly to the skin. In the morning, the patches can be removed with Le Pont Lift-Away Botanical Oil.
Le Pont comes in a box containing 12 patch sets and the oil for removing the patches. It will be priced at $34.95.
Educational pamphlets available at countertop displays created for the line claim that “after just a month’s use, the appearance of fine lines is noticeably diminished.”
Dermal patches are a “hot delivery system,” said Gene Goldberg, senior vice president of marketing and business planning at Doak. He pointed to examples in the marketplace such as estrogen, anti-smoking and sea sickness patches. “You are going to see a lot more of site-specific delivery because it offers a sustained, controlled delivery.” An anti-acne patch is one likely application of the technology, he added.
For more than 60 years, Doak’s business has been to develop skin care products that are promoted through dermatologists and pharmacists. Four years ago, the company was purchased by Bradley Pharmaceuticals, and its name was changed from Doak Pharmacal to Doak Dermatologics.
Around the same time, Doak began to promote one of its dermatology brands, Formula 405 skin care for very dry skin, to consumers via newspapers, radio and in-store promotions. Very quickly, the line saw a 30 to 35 percent increase in sales, said Goldberg.
In 1995, an alpha-hydroxy acid formula was added to the Formula 405 family, and in 1997, the brand’s sales were $2.7 million at wholesale.
Doak’s experience with Formula 405 convinced company executives that the timing was right to introduce a brand based on its background with dermatologists but designed from the beginning as a consumer-driven product. “Our original meaning was through doctors, but we would like to expand that and give the same quality to consumers,” said Goldberg.
For Le Pont, Doak is targeting independent and chain drugstores and mass merchandisers with beauty counters and staff cosmeticians who can be trained to explain the line to shoppers, said Goldberg.
Le Pont’s high price point won’t deter sales, asserted Goldberg, who compared the quality of the product to high-priced mass lines such as Chantal, and department store lines that sell for $120 and more per jar. “We anticipate Le Pont to be very quickly our first in terms of sales,” said Goldberg.
He predicts the line will be in 6,000 doors by the beginning of 1998 and another 2,000 to 5,000 doors within the first 12 months. First-year wholesale volume is projected at $10 million.
Although the advertising campaign is still in the planning stages, Goldberg did reveal that the equivalent of 30 percent of sales will be devoted to supporting Le Pont. Initially, the budget is set at $1.4 million, but that number could reach $3 million before the end of 1998, he added. Print ads in January issues of magazines such as Readers Digest, New Woman and Good Housekeeping will make up the first stage of the campaign. Local TV spots will be added later based on retail commitment.
An AM Cream, PM Cream and EC Cream, for the eyes, will join the line in the first quarter of 1998.
Gale Hayman Beverly Hills will be focusing more intently on skin care with a medical basis in the future, said Gale Hayman, founder of the company. The company’s current line, Youth-Lift Skin Care, is sold in specialty and department stores as well as in independent pharmacies and on the Home Shopping Network.
To accomplish her goal, Hayman created a division called Long-Term Skin Care, aimed at developing a series of products intended to help combat the signs of aging.
The new division’s first introduction is DHEA 14 Super Moisturizing Cream, which contains dehydroepiandrosterone, a naturally occurring compound that is produced by the adrenal glands and plays a role in enhancing the skin’s moisturization.
As we get older, said Hayman, the amount of DHEA in our bodies decreases. DHEA 14 cream works by delivering DHEA directly to the skin, which Hayman contends results in immediate hydration as well as long-term improvement of the skin’s moisture level. After 14 days, said Hayman, clinical studies show that DHEA 14 cream increases the skin’s natural moisture level by as much as 50 percent.
DHEA 14 cream was developed and patented by a group of dermatologists, and according to Hayman, she has the exclusive license for retail sales. It will be introduced on the Home Shopping Network this month and has a suggested price of $47.50 for a 2-oz. jar and $29.50 for a 1-oz. jar. The cream will continue to be promoted on HSN, where Hayman appears regularly. The cream will be launched at retail in January in stores such as Sears and Cosmetics Plus as well as in independent pharmacies.

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