Byline: CARA KAGAN with contributions from FAYE BROOKMAN

NEW YORK — When it comes to the body care market, the whole no longer seems to be greater than the sum of its parts.
While continuing to churn out products designed for allover use, mass market manufacturers seem to be zeroing in on specific body areas — with a different lotion, potion or emollient aimed at every available appendage.
Recent product introductions have largely focused on parts of the body below the waist: the legs, the posterior and the feet.
“Research is increasingly more precise in determining the physiology and requirements of the skin,” said Stephanie Hyano, vice president of marketing at Del Laboratories, which makes the Naturistics personal care line. “As consumers become more aware of these findings, through editorials and advertising, a growing need develops for products addressing specific skin care challenges.
“Concurrently, technology is rapidly advancing to treat these differing needs,” she continued. “Consider the alpha-hydroxy acid revolution and the popularity of thigh creams. Certain aspects of aging skin and cellulite, which previously were unassailable problems, now can be addressed with new products.” The concept of splintering the body care market is not necessarily a new one. Decades ago, cleanser manufacturers set out to convince consumers that washing one’s face with a bar of deodorant soap was not proper skin care, and hence, the facial cleanser market was born.
That simple concept now has been parlayed into a deluge of moisturizers, sunscreens, exfoliators and wrinkle-erasers, constituting a booming mass market skin care business now worth in excess of $1 billion.
The hands, too, have been receiving the attentions of mass marketers for quite some time, with products on the market that purport to soothe and smooth the cuticles and to moisturize, exfoliate and protect the backs and palms.
A more recent focal point seems to be the feet. Capitalizing on the popularity of The Body Shop’s Peppermint Foot Lotion, many mass marketers are in the midst of a foot frenzy.
Naturistics, for example, markets a foot lotion with menthol, rosemary and lavender. The firm maintains that the product not only moisturizes, but refreshes and cools the feet.
“While improved skin texture is important, the way the feet feel is important to one’s overall well-being,” Hayano said, explaining the rationale behind the current crop of tootsie-targeted products. “Whether customers first try the Foot Lotion on a whim, or because they like the scent, or because they received it as a gift, they come back because a specific skin care need has been met.”
In the second quarter, Freeman Cosmetic Corp. will introduce Barefoot, a three-step, at-home foot grooming regimen.
The Barefoot collection will consist of Fresh Herbal Foot Soak, an antibacterial herbal foot soak designed to revitalize and cleanse; Plum & Pumice Foot Scrub with alpha-hydroxy acids to smooth rough skin and callouses on the feet, as well as knees and elbows, and Peppermint & Poppies Foot Lotion to soften and condition rough, dry skin on the soles of the feet, the heels and ankles.
Each tube has toe-shaped ends and is decorated with brightly colored graphics.
“Foot care is one of the fastest growing categories in mass retail sales,” said Larry Freeman, chief executive officer of Freeman, based in Beverly Hills. “But many mass market foot care brands can look clinical and medicinal and do not suggest the beauty benefits and pleasurable pampering consumers can enjoy from at home foot care.”
Last year Vaseline introduced its Vaseline Intensive Care Smooth Legs and Feet product, which contains 5 percent lactic acid and is designed to moisturize and exfoliate the skin on the lower half of the body.
“No one can deny the alpha-hydroxy acid explosion of the last couple of years, but most of the activity has centered around the face,” said Alan Jope, marketing manager for Vaseline Intensive Care. “Our research has shown us that 48 percent of lotion is used below the waist and that the current products on the market are not addressing the special needs of legs and feet, such as flaky dry skin and callouses.”
As part of this new preoccupation with the nether region, many mass market beauty companies are introducing products designed to thin the figure, rather than smooth or condition thighs. For the last year, inspired by the success in department stores of anti-cellulite items like Christian Dior’s Svelte, manufacturers have been rushing lower-priced thigh creams to drug and discount stores.
The introduction of less-expensive thigh creams may be just another example of mass tailing class in the wake of a hot trend, but according to industry estimates, mass market thigh creams could amount to a $90 million industry within the next few years.
Although priced lower than their counterparts in the prestige market, the mass market items tend to carry relatively lofty tags in comparison to conventional mass body lotions or scrubs.
One of the cheapest, Rebeka’s New-Thigh Contouring Creme, costs $16.95 for 3.4 ounces, compared with Svelte’s $48 for a 6.8-oz. container.
But so far, retailers seem to feel the relatively high price tags will build store sales rather than detract from them. As proof, many cited the success of alpha-hydroxy acid-based treatment products, which as a rule have higher price points than acid-free skin care items.
Apart from Rebeka’s introduction, recent entries in the mass thigh cream market include ATC Thigh Cream from An-Kar Products, Beautiful Thigh from Cosmania, Slimmer U by Crystal Springs and Lisee’s Aromatherapy Cellulite Control for Thighs.
Six months ago, St. Ives launched its own version, called Skinzone Thigh Cream. Skinzone, ATC and Slimmer U each contain aminophylline, an ingredient much publicized as a cellulite-buster.
“The thigh is a credible area to target with specific products,” said Stuart Fine, vice president of marketing of St. Ives. “Woman perceive that the need is different on the thigh area, especially in terms of slimming down. Ours has been selling quite nicely. With companies like EstAe Lauder and LancOme coming in, it adds legitimacy to the category.
“As a rule, we have not segmented our product offerings too much,” Fine added. “I think the market has to be careful not to cut the head of a pin 25 ways. How many bottles of lotion and potions for different parts are people going to buy?
“It seems that people would use it more as a treat on the weekend so the use-up rate would be slow,” he said. “If you move half a piece a month, you aren’t going to keep your space on the shelves for very long.”