THE POST-ACID GENERATION

Byline: CARA KAGAN

NEW YORK — Mass marketers are looking for the next skin care success story. Although vendors continue to see maturing women as the major driving force behind treatment sales and are using alpha-hydroxy acid products to lure them in, many firms are turning to women under 35 as the next consumer gold mine.
“We are finding that these women are heavy users of treatment products,” said Kathy Dwyer, executive vice president and general manager of Revlon’s mass cosmetics division. “I think we are going to see an influx of products that are preventative and are designed to check the earliest signs of aging aimed at this age group.”
And even though acid is still considered to be as hot as ever, other ingredients like vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes are gradually becoming industry buzz words.
“I think the skin care market will continue to move beyond [alpha-hydroxies] to more specific types of treatment,” said Rosanna McCollough, senior marketing manager of Neutrogena skin care. “I think people are past the phase where they believe that one product will do it all for them.”
The exfoliating alpha-hydroxy ingredients, however, remain a focal point. Sally Hansen is using acid as a launch pad into the treatment business; the company will introduce Skin Recovery in April. Each of the line’s four items contains a combination of acids.
Other companies already in the acid game are extending their presence. This month, L’Oreal is extending its acid-based entry, Excell-A3, into a line of three acid-based cleansers, called Clarify A3. In addition, Maybelline is adding Night Time Alpha Hydroxy Acid Cream to its Revitalizing collection of skin care and color cosmetics. The product contains a stronger acid concentration than the company’s two existing acid-based moisturizers.
“Alpha-hydroxy acids may seem like old hat to the trade, but for the mass market consumer, it is still a relatively new and hot concept,” said William McMenemy, executive vice president of marketing at Del Laboratories.
Meanwhile, even more players have squeezed into the already crowded bathtub.
Previously, mass market bath care vendors only had to contend with competition from department store brands or specialty bath chains, such as The Body Shop and H20 Plus.
But recently, two other types of warriors have entered the frey. Commodities soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble, Lever Bros. and Jergens, are churning out moisturizing body washes with lower price points and much higher advertising budgets than conventional mass lines.
The fashion community also wants a piece of the action. Stores with broad-based appeal, like The Gap, are following The Limited’s lead and selling bath and body products in their stores.
Because of the razor-sharp competition, many mass retailers such as Essentials Plus and Ricky’s of New York are reducing their bath departments and stressing accessory items like loofahs and sponges.
Alan Jamnik, treasurer of Essentials Plus, said, “I have to compete for skin and bath with The Limited’s Bath and Body Works, Goodebodies, The Body Shop and CVS.”