NEW YORK — Desperate to get a grip on slipping sales in the bath category, Calgon is taking a more substantial positioning with a new line that focuses on benefits, not just fragrance.Coming to retailers in May is Calgon’s first spa line, Ahh…Spa Tropics, one that brand executives said promises to deliver moisturizing and cleansing benefits. Infused with tropical fruits such as papaya, mango, avocado, kiwi and guava, Spa Tropics plays on Calgon’s well-known tag line, "Calgon Take Me Away," by also promising to deliver users to a faraway tropical island. The emphasis on a benefits line as opposed to a fragrance line, Calgon’s heritage, reveals the brand’s aggressive stance on the specialty bath category’s 10 percent sales slump last year, to $255 million, according to Information Resources Inc. Sales exclude Wal-Mart."This is a new way of thinking about specialty bath," said Anastasia Ayala, senior vice president, global franchise, Coty Beauty USA. "As a responsibility to the retailer, we are working to make sure we turn this business into a flat and growing category."Spa Tropics is indeed different from anything currently in the Calgon lineup. Calgon’s success can largely be attributed to its spray mist business, and the lotions and body washes that accompany them. Spa Tropics, however, "is different from everything else we have," said Paul Seplowitz, vice president, product development, noting that Spa Tropics is soap free. Each item shares the same cool fruit fragrance and a nourishing fruit complex, a combination of fruit extracts and vitamins to help deliver benefits. Each product also highlights a different fruit in its ingredient list. There’s the 3-in-1 Smoothing Body Exfoliator that emphasizes kiwi extract, a fruit with a high citrus fruit source. The exfoliator also contains polyethylene beads to help remove dead skin cells. The Silkening Body Cleanser highlights guava extract, which Seplowitz said is high in antioxidant benefits. The Revitalizing Hand & Foot Cream features avocado, a source of vitamin E, to help skin’s elasticity. A Conditioning Body Mist highlights papaya extract, and features upgraded technology from Calgon’s core mist line. Then there’s Nourishing Body Butter, which contains natural moisturizers and features mango extracts.The body butter is one of Ayala’s favorite items. "It feels like something from a spa line, not just another bath product. It’s more than a basic lotion," Ayala said. Spa Tropics was 18 months in the works and lands in more than 20,000 doors in May. Ayala would not comment on the line’s sales expectations, but industry sources estimate Spa Tropics could generate between $10 million and $15 million its first year on shelves. A print ad and sampling effort will promote the line. Ads will be featured in beauty magazines from June through September. Spa Tropics is line priced at $6.95. Whether Spa Tropics will help Calgon’s business remains to be seen. According to IRI, Calgon’s sales slipped 10 percent last year, in line with the category, to almost $40 million, excluding Wal-Mart.But Ayala hopes Spa Tropics will add some punch to the declining category. "The category is soft, declining. There’s a reason for that. For a category that was booming, what happened?" Ayala asked.Although a drop in consumer spending can be an answer, Ayala said a lack of innovative product is most likely a cause. Retailer private label lines, which came onto the scene with an edge of prominence three years ago, have attracted many bath consumers with low prices and desirable store locations. These products, though, can sometimes be inferior to branded products."The product isn’t at the level the customer wants," Ayala said of some retailer lines. "One of the things that Coty did was invest in manufacturing, so now we control our quality of product. We can come up with a product that a third-party manufacturer doesn’t have the ability" to make, she said. Ayala noted that private label bath sales were down last year, too. "Maybe it’s seasonal," she said of the category’s recent holiday season slump. "It was a hard winter. Christmas was down and Christmas has been very good for this business. It’s almost a recession-proof category."While Ayala can’t offer any more answers to why the bath category is declining, she can provide a solution."There are very innovative products in our pipeline," she said of a new Calgon line planned for spring 2004. "It’s a whole new concept."
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