BIOTHERM USES PLANKTON TO FUEL SPRING ROLLOUT

Byline: Julie L. Belcove

NEW YORK — In anticipation of a U.S. relaunch of Biotherm next year, the company is introducing a moisturizer that it hopes will galvanize the treatment line.
The new moisturizer, called Biojeunesse Skin Refining Day Cream, contains the same microorganisms found in hot springs, which are said to have treatment benefits. The cream, though, has a much higher concentration of the ingredient, called biotechnological thermal plankton, according to Lucien Aubert, director of research laboratories for Biotherm.
Aubert said the research breakthrough that enabled Biotherm to grow the thermal plankton faster than under normal conditions in hot springs will allow the company to develop a whole range of new products. Next year, for example, Biotherm plans to add the substance to its sun line.
“It’s not an ingredient for one product,” Aubert explained. “In the future, it could be an ingredient for all the Biotherm line.”
“It’s going to be the star ingredient in hopefully a host of products,” said Robert Cassou, senior vice president and general manager of Biotherm.
Biotherm, a division of Cosmair, is sold widely in Europe. Cosmair launched the line in the U.S. in 1985 with mediocre results. In the fall of 1992, the company pulled back to a single account, Burdines in Miami, to regroup.
Now Cosmair is preparing to relaunch Biotherm, beginning with California and Texas during the first quarter, according to Cassou. Biojeunesse will be a major part of the new push, launching in February at Burdines and in early April in California and Texas.
Although the specific stores have not been finalized, Cassou said he selected those two states because Biotherm did well there the last go-round and because they are strong treatment markets. However, he declined to identify which stores were being considered.
Tony Michaels, senior vice president of marketing and advertising, said that Biotherm is in a good position to relaunch now, having dropped its prices by 20 to 25 percent. Prices range from $9.50 for a lip treatment to $35 for an anti-aging product. Biotherm also repackaged the line, using a white box with a single blue wave.
Biotherm should sell between 30,000 and 35,000 units of Biojeunesse in Florida, California and Texas next year, Michaels said. At $27.50 for a 50-ml. jar, retail sales would hit $825,000 to $962,500.
The product eventually could contribute as much as 15 percent of Biotherm’s facial treatment sales, he said.
Taking into account its healthy body care business, Cassou said Biotherm will emphasize an active, fun image for the relaunch.
“We’re targeting Biotherm at age 21 to whatever,” Michaels said. “We’d like to get some of these younger women because the price is good.”
Biojeunesse, though, will be targeted primarily at women 30 and over, using the tag line, “Youth. A question of age or a question of skin?”
In addition to moisturizing, Aubert said Biojeunesse works to improve elasticity, tone and the appearance of wrinkles.
The thermal plankton soothes inflammation, protects against irritants and enhances cell division and cohesion, Aubert said, but he acknowledged that his research team has yet to figure out exactly how the microorganisms accomplish these feats.
Biotherm’s treatment products have been based on the skin care benefits of microorganisms found in hot springs since the company’s inception 40 years ago.
The line’s other items also contain thermal plankton, but in a weaker concentration. Biojeunesse has a 1 percent concentration of the plankton, Aubert said. It might take as much as 500 liters of spring water to match that level of plankton, he added.
Michaels said that Biojeunesse and its thermal plankton represent a new direction in skin care.
“We’re not going up against alpha hydroxies,” Michaels said, referring to the fruit acid ingredients that are the current rage. “We’re not going up against collagen.”
Biotherm will hand out and mail about 50,000 tube samples of Biojeunesse on booklet cards. Michaels said the company also plans to distribute deluxe 15-ml. tubes of the new cream in addition to featuring it in its April and May gift-with-purchase offer.
Although Cassou said the advertising budget won’t be determined until the launch accounts have been finalized, he said it will be “fairly extensive” on a regional basis, not a national one.
In addition to co-op newspaper ads, Michaels said he is looking into regional magazines and regional editions of national magazines.
Biojeunesse was launched in Europe in September, and Biotherm executives said initial results are encouraging.

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