NEW YORK — Aramis Lab Series has one goal in the men’s prestige treatment arena: to blow past sister brand Clinique and move from the number two-spot to the top ranking.
To that end, the 18-year-old business is being expanded via skin and hair care launches and realigned with packaging changes. There will also be a face behind the brand for the first time.
Lab Series executives said they believe attaining the top men’s skin care spot in U.S. department stores can be done by 2007 or 2008, an achievement that would call for roughly doubling the brand’s revenues.
“We’re aiming for leadership,” asserted Fabrice Weber, president of the Aramis and Designer Fragrances division of the Estée Lauder Cos. Lab Series is marketed under Aramis Inc.
While executives declined to discuss sales of Lab Series, industry sources estimate the business accounted for nearly 25 percent of the men’s skin care category in U.S. department stores, which rang up $59 million in sales volume last year, according to NPD Group.
“We think this is on the way up,” Weber said of the men’s treatment category. While he noted men’s is a small part of the $2.1 billion department store skin care business, he added, “It’s growing way over-proportionally in the stores” — by double digits in the last two years. “Part of the objective of relaunching and repositioning [Lab Series] is to capitalize on market growth,” he said.
Currently atop the men’s prestige skin care market is Clinique’s Skin Supplies for Men. Together, Lab Series and Skin Supplies for Men reportedly account for 70 to 75 percent of the category.
There are now 22 Lab Series products marketed in the U.S. As part of the Lab Series relaunch, that number will rise to 27 with the addition of three skin care items in March and two hair care products in May. Also, a new ad campaign estimated to be worth between $3 million and $4 million will break in April men’s magazines and feature Ryan Burns of Ford Models, a 27-year-old California native. The print ad is described as an “icon shot,” using black-and-white photography by Japanese lensman Takay to connote a “serious, credible” tone. Ad copy has been reduced and product is featured prominently.
“This is the first time we’ll have [a face] in a high-profile way,” Weber noted. “It’s adds a lifestyle [element].”
“We need to set ourselves apart so gentlemen will be comfortable and try the products,” said Carol Russo, senior vice president and general manager for North America at Aramis and Designer fragrances, discussing the men’s skin care environment in department stores.
For starters, the Lab Series assortment will be divided into four subcategories: Clean, which includes scrub, wash and mask; Shave, which features a foam, gel and cream; Treat, which has face lotion, night lotion and antiaging face lotion, and Hair and Body, which includes Ab Rescue Gel, deodorant and SPF 8 hair and scalp protector.
Also, some product names will be changed. For instance, the brand’s Night Rescue Skin Revitalizer Therapy Moisturizer will be renamed Night Recovery Lotion.
The term “skin care” is being added to the Lab Series logo, which will read “Lab Series Skincare For Men.”
“It’s an extreme makeover,” said Robin Mason, vice president of global marketing for Aramis and Designer Fragrances.
The new skin care trio will include Instant Moisture Eye Gel, $26 for 0.25 oz.; Gel, $26 for 1.7 oz., and Lip Balm, $10 for 0.35 oz. The eye gel is thought to be the first such roll-on product in the men’s prestige treatment arena. The items will be launched in 1,600 doors in the U.S.
The hair care products, called Root Power Treatment Shampoo and Hair Tonic, will be launched in selected distribution in the U.S.
Lab Series hair care was “doing well in Asia, so we thought we’d bring it here,” said Matthew Teri, vice president of corporate product innovation. The products are designed to enlarge the hair shaft to make hair appear thicker and fuller.
Industry sources estimate the skin and hair care products could generate in excess of $11 million in combined first-year retail sales globally with about half that coming from the U.S.
The relaunch will spread into Lab Series’ international markets, which include 55 countries and 5,500 global doors, between next March and July.
As part of the marketing plan, a white Cadillac Escalade, which has been given Lab Series graphics, will go on the road with a specially modified trailer — complete with an interior audio-visual system and light show — in tow to promote the repositioned assortment. The rig has been dubbed the “Lab Series interactive vehicle.”