LANCOME AIMS ABSOLUE AT MATURE CONSUMERS
Byline: Cassandra Chiacchio
NEW YORK — Forget Generation Y. Lancome has cast its eye toward the other end of the age spectrum, a more mature, and more affluent market — the over 50 crowd. The company’s newest introduction — and its biggest treatment launch of the year — is Absolue, a luxury product that aides aging skin in three different ways using technology and a patented “bio-network” of natural ingredients. Absolue’s two products are a 1.7-oz. Replenishing Cream SPF 15 and a 2.5-oz. Replenishing Lotion SPF 15. Both will retail for $90, the highest price point yet for the company. “The product is a real value, with a ratio of price to quality,” said Luc Nadeau, president of L’Oreal USA Luxury products division. The bio-network, a patented formula that includes wild yam, soy and sea algae, addresses the three factors that age skin — chronological aging, which gives skin a papery appearance; hormone fluctuations, which dry out the skin, and sun exposure, which leaves noticeable spots. “It’s part of the move toward natural ingredients,” noted Nadeau. “And the move to bring products to market that imitate natural processes.”
By boosting epidermal lipids, Absolue is designed to give intense moisture, clarity and skin elasticity to aging skin. According to the company, some results were seen in as early as 10 days in study groups.
“These products focus on the skin’s age rather than chronological age,” said Toria Garrett, assistant vice president of makeup marketing, referring to the fact that early menopause and extensive sun damage result in older looking skin. “Our core target is women in their 50’s.”
The product is also a luxurious one to use, said Maeve Coburn, senior vice president of marketing. “Beyond what it does, there is the total effect — a wonderful texture and scent [which is a floral with citrus notes and tea extracts]. It’s a complete experience.”
“We expect this to become the number-one selling product in skin care,” added Nadeau. Industry sources expect retail sales to exceed $50 million its first year.
Absolue launched in France in April and it’s already the number one best-selling special care product there, according to Lancome.
In the U.S., Absolue was previewed this week at Saks Fifth Avenue. It will make its debut on Sept. 1 and roll out to all Lancome accounts, including the company’s Web site, Lancome.com.
According to Dalia Chammas, senior vice president and general manager, Absolue is addressing a different age group than the company’s anti-wrinkle and firming line, Renergie, and will not replace any existing products. “Renergie is targeted to women in their 40’s and has been very successful,” she said. “Absolue is a new franchise, geared to a new audience.”
Advertising, which Nadeau calls “aggressive,” will consist of ads and advertorials that focus on the technology of the product. There are no current plans to have an older spokesmodel represent Absolue. “It would be tough to use an individual on a product like this,” said Nadeau. “The 50-plus age group wants to have products that will meet their needs without being cataloged as 50-plus.”
For the company, which plans to do extensive sampling, the over 50 market is brand-new territory, one that might prove to be very lucrative. “These women, over 40 million strong, have the dollars and they are in the department stores,” noted Chammas. “That is 44 percent of shoppers that have dry skin, a lack of elasticity and lack of radiance. This will be the only product on the market that addresses all the needs of aging skin.”
While declining to discuss future plans for Absolue, Nadeau did admit the franchise could expand beyond skin care. “Developing products for women 50-plus is an important part of Lancome strategy,” he said. “Absolue works in complete harmony with the body, and that is the philosophy of Lancome as a company. The future is very bright.”