BATH & BODY WORKS ADDS MUSCLE WITH ITS $100M ‘BIO’ LAUNCH
Byline: Julie Naughton
NEW YORK — Bath & Body Works, long known as the powerhouse of popularly priced toiletries, is expanding its marketing reach.
Billed as the largest personal-care launch in the chain’s history, Bath & Body Works is gearing up to roll out Bio, a 40-stockkeeping-unit hair and facial skin care collection expected to do upwards of $100 million in sales in its first year.
An acronym for Beauty Individualized Organics, the collection will be on-shelf in 1,300 Bath & Body Works stores on Sept. 5.
“This move will make us a major player in two important beauty categories — performance hair care and performance facial care products,” said Robert Goehrke, vice president of performance products for Bath & Body Works.
According to Goehrke, Bio will represent incremental growth for the chain. “Historically, we have never had a strong presence in hair care or skin care,” he said, adding that while Bath & Body Works has done hair and face sku’s “here and there,” never before has there been a concentrated effort by the chain to capitalize on these opportunities.
And those opportunities are considerable. “In any given year, we have at least 40 to 50 million consumers passing through our doors,” said Goehrke. “When it comes to performance hair and performance skin sku’s, they go elsewhere to buy them, because we don’t offer them. Our goal is to become a one-stop beauty destination.”
Goehrke said that although the chain doesn’t break out sales figures for specific lines, he expects the collection to capture at least 1 percent of both the $5 billion hair care market and the $5 billion skin care market. Industry sources estimated that the line could do more than $100 million by the end of its first year. “We want to be in the top 10 of all hair and skin care brands by the end of the first year and in the top three shortly thereafter,” Goehrke said.
Bath & Body Works uses the term “performance” to describe products that serve a particular purpose. Each of the Bio products is color-coded, intended to make the selection process seamless, said Goehrke. Hair care is divided into five separate collections, ranging in price from $7 to $8. Balancing Hair Care, packaged in yellow, is designed for normal hair and offers a shampoo, conditioner and leave-in fortifier. Hydrating Hair Care, for dry or damaged hair, is packaged in lavender and offers a shampoo, a conditioner and an intensive moisturizing treatment. Volumizing Hair Care, designed to promote volume and fullness for fine hair, has green packaging and offers a shampoo, a conditioner and a masque. Color Care Hair Care, intended to brighten, protect and revitalize color-treated hair, is packaged in pink and offers a shampoo, a conditioner and a revitalizing clay.
The fifth grouping, Styling Aids, has six stylers, including Natural Hold Texturizing Creme, Firm Hold Sculpting Gel and Medium Hold Volumizing Foam. All styling sku’s are packaged in blue.
The skin care collection, ranging in price from $8 to $15, is also divided into specific collections. Balancing Skin Care, with peach packaging, is for normal and combination skin and includes a balancing cleanser, a facial toner and a face lotion with SPF 15. Hydrating Skin Care, for dry skin, is in lavender packaging and offers a cleanser, a facial toner and a hydrating day creme with SPF 15. Oil Control Skin Care, for oily skin, is packaged in green and includes a cleanser, a toner and an oil-control lotion. The fourth skin care category, Specialty Treatments, is packaged in blue and offers eight sku’s, including a blemish-control gel, an eye-makeup remover and a soothing eye gel.
Each of the Bio items includes plant extracts, which Goehrke sees as a key benefit for the line. The various hair care sku’s include such ingredients as sunflower, jasmine, aloe vera, watercress, green tea and yarrow, while the skin care items include such ingredients as soy, seaweed, linden flower and witch hazel. “Each is especially designed to work synergistically,” added Ed Borish, director of research and development for the line.
While there are no plans for print or TV advertising at this time, Goehrke said that the chain will strongly promote the line in other ways. “As we launch, we are exploding out with one million direct-mail coupons to the most loyal of our consumers,” he said. “Each coupon will be good for a free full-sized shampoo. It will be expensive, but that’s how strongly I believe that these are world-class products.” Bio sku’s will also be featured in Bath & Body Works windows and in large in-store displays.
The line will be expanded in the spring, although Goehrke was not specific about forthcoming items. He did say that he sees opportunities in the ethnic, mature and men’s markets. “You’ve got to continually bring excitement to the consumer to remain fresh in their eyes,” he said.
In addition, Bath & Body Works is borrowing a few sales techniques from the salon industry. Before launch, the chain is planning its largest educational effort ever for its 27,000 sales associates, said Goehrke, a hair care veteran who has worked on salon brands such as Matrix Essentials in the past. “We want our associates to be passionate about this line, and to do that, they have to be well-versed in it,” he said.
Brian Bartholomew, group product manager for Bio, added that the company is planning videos and salon-style training manuals, as well as a road show that will bring Bio educators — complete with classrooms, sales trainers and estheticians — to selected locations.
Maura Hunter Byrne, director of the U.S. equity research division at Salomon Smith Barney, said at the products’ launch party Thursday that while she hadn’t had the opportunity to completely review the line, Bio was “obviously well-researched.
“It will likely be strong,” she said.