THE NEW PITCH
NEW YORK — Vitamins aren’t just for staving off colds anymore. In the perpetual hunt for the magic ingredients that will entice consumers into buying skin care, vendors have been pitching a healthy menu of vitamin and mineral-enriched products that purportedly nourish the skin in new and innovative ways.
Among the department store players who have entered the vitamin game are Elizabeth Arden, Chanel, Lancome, Estee Lauder, Prescriptives and Clarins.
“The awareness of the importance of vitamins in health has been increasing,” said Joseph Horowitz, president of Clarins USA. “It’s natural that the cosmetics industry would take note of the popularity of vitamins now and respond with its own version of vitamin treatments.”
“The concept of vitamins in skin care is not new; what is new is being able to put stable and active vitamins in a formula that maintains their integrity,” said Karen Rae Flinn, assistant vice president of skin care marketing at LancOme. “Vitamin C is very unstable, and it has been a big challenge to utilize it correctly.
“I think that we are on the threshold of a new generation of skin care products with vitamins,” she added. “I believe more in-depth research will prove that vitamins have different and broader applications and that, long term, they could prove to have other implications beyond prevention.”
But vitamins aren’t the only ingredient making waves. Alpha-hydroxy acids, which gave a shot in the arm to the treatment business when they were reinvented a few years ago, are still going strong, according to a survey of retailers.
“Repeat sales have been phenomenal on acid-based products,” said Robert Wiser, divisional merchandise manager at Gottschalk’s, based in Fresno, Calif.
“Alpha-hydroxy products are still big,” said Howard Koch, divisional merchandise manager for cosmetics at the Birmingham, Ala.-based Parisian. “And now we’re entering into the second generation of alpha-hydroxy, with more focused, specialized offshoots of the original.”
Clarins was one company that resisted the acid craze, before launching Bio-Ecolia this year. The company uses other claims, including the use of natural plant extracts, to lure potential shoppers.
To see how this French skin care firm presents itself in stores, WWD sent reporters from across the country and London for first-hand encounters. The results are compiled on page 20.