Bikini Touch and Finishing Touch trimmers

NEW YORK — Beauty isn’t always pretty. <br><br>A recent spate of cable infomercials for hair-removal products are graphically depicting truly intimate moments of personal grooming. Watching clumps of dark hair being shorn off the back of a...

NEW YORK — Beauty isn’t always pretty.

This story first appeared in the January 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

A recent spate of cable infomercials for hair-removal products are graphically depicting truly intimate moments of personal grooming. Watching clumps of dark hair being shorn off the back of a pale-skinned man or the gentle trimming of nostrils is certainly not the most tasteful of television moments.

But for New Jersey-based IdeaVillage, it sure is effective marketing.

Anand Khubani, president of four-year-old IdeaVillage, is watching his business skyrocket almost overnight since the introduction of handheld trimmers to his product offerings last year. Sales at IdeaVillage are projected to reach $150 million in 2004, of which $100 million is expected to come from Finishing Touch, a trimmer for women, and Micro Touch, a tool for men, along with the soon-to-be introduced Bikini Touch.

Khubani hadn’t specifically sought out building a chunk of his business with beauty tools, the idea just struck that trimmers, retail priced at an approachable $14.99 or less, could be a viable business opportunity.

Having enjoyed near-instant success, Ellen Leikind, marketing and strategic consultant for IdeaVillage, who has a consumer products background including a stint at L’Oréal, said the goal now is to make the items into lasting national brands and build retail distribution.

For, explained Khubani, the spots on cable television draw the attention and educate consumers on the products, but the bulk of unit sales still will come via traditional stores. The split could be as wide as 10 percent of unit sales from Internet and direct TV orders combined, versus 90 percent traditional retail.

Thus, the trimmers have been making their way into more doors, across several trade groups. The trimmers now can be found in specialty stores like Linens & Things and Bed, Bath and Beyond; department stores such as J.C. Penney; the four leading drugstore chains, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Eckerd, as well as discounters Wal-Mart and Target. Kmart will be added shortly.

Khubani said the trimmers filled “an open need in the marketplace.” He questioned why consumers want to use wax or tweezers when they can remove hair with a pain-free method. “We took a problem and provided an instant and painless solution,” he said.

A new commercial for Finishing Touch will be tested this week, featuring “raving fans” of the product, noted Khubani.

IdeaVillage began in 1999 and the first product it brought to market was Auto Pilot, a road navigator. Other notable products include Handy Stitch and Grip Wrench. Khubani said the company is open to all consumer product categories. “What we are looking for is voids in the marketplace and to fill big unmet needs with products that are useful for a majority of consumers.” IdeaVillage will not enter a segment already oversaturated with products. For instance, said Khubani, “I wouldn’t come out with an electric razor.”