TREATMENT’S RX FOR GAINS

NEW YORK — Drugstore chains are expecting an unlikely source to boost skin care sales this year — the pharmacy.
Retailers are expecting that two new products — sold, for the most part, in the prescription section of the drugstore — will generate additional in-store traffic and have a halo effect on the rest of a chain’s skin care department.
One sales locomotive is considered to be Johnson & Johnson’s Renova, a prescription-strength skin care cream designed to reduce fine facial wrinkles, ease brown patches and smooth rough skin. The product started rolling out to 65,000 pharmacies in mid-February.
Ethocyn, which was created by the Los Angeles-based Chantal Pharmaceutical Corp., is said to be the other treatment powerhouse. Ethocyn, a chemically synthesized ingredient, is purported to spur skin cells into producing optimum amounts of elastin. While the product is nonprescription, Chantal has opted to sell the new item in the pharmacy section of most of its accounts, due to its high price points and technical nature. Ethocyn’s six-item collection started shipping in August.
Meanwhile, some of the mass market’s heavy hitters have stepped up to the plate with splashy new skin care launches.
These new items, many of which are being backed with significant advertising budgets, are expected to generate prodigious sales volumes, while increasing awareness in the category as a whole.
Among them are PlAnitude’s Revitalift firming and anti-wrinkle product, which will be supported with $20 million during its inaugural year; Chesebrough-Pond’s Prevent & Correct, which has an advertising budget of $25 million for its launch year; Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin acid-based moisturizer, which is reportedly being backed with at least $5 million, and Nivea’s Optimale high tech moisturizer, which was launched in January with $17 million in print and TV advertising.
While the skin care category is showing signs of life, the mass market’s specialty bath category is not booming as it once was. Still, retailers are convinced they can keep sales afloat — albeit with many structural changes.
Mass market retailers attribute the relative decline to the proliferation of products that flooded the mass bath market in the last year. “It seems every company in the world now has a bath item,” said Naomi Germano, buyer for Harmon Discount Stores in Cedar Grove, N.J. On top of that, consumer demand for bath items isn’t as high as many industry experts had originally predicted. In fact, the category has turned out to be much more of a seasonal niche than a year-round concept.
As a result, merchants noted, many stores are now stuck with bloated inventories and unproductive bath departments.
One new wrinkle in the mass market beauty business is the body wash category. Everyone said that it couldn’t happen — that Americans, the staunchest of soap users, would never trade in their beloved bars for the liquid cleansers favored by Asians and Europeans.
But just one year after Procter & Gamble, Lever Bros. and Andrew Jergens Co. pioneered the category, liquid body cleansers have grown into a $220 million category, which is expected to amount to more than $400 million in sales by the end of 1996.
To gauge how mass merchandisers are marketing their wares amid the industry’s shifts, WWD sent out reporters to a variety of locations in the U.S. and Europe to gather first-hand accounts. The results are compiled beginning on page 16.

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