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    Supermarket NONFOODS Business: Saving face

    Almost two dozen new face care products will leave consumers aglow this fall.

    Consumers are extremely picky about what they put on their faces. Some have sensitive skin, so they want something gentle. Some may want to do everything--tone, cleanse, and moisturize--in one step. Still others will spend a half-hour or more in front of the mirror, lathering, washing, scrubbing, exfoliating, and whatever else it takes to show a well-scrubbed, soft-skinned face to the world.

    Luckily, manufacturers are addressing these varying needs by developing a variety of formulas and delivery systems

    Unilever's Dove brand, for example, has developed its Essential Nutrients collection for every type of face care customer. "Within the face care category, consumers really want to use different products," says Dove marketing director Peter Waxman. "Some like a creamy cleanser, some prefer a foam—it's important that you bring these different products to the consumer, because that's what they're seeking."

    The Essential Nutrients line consists of five cleansers and three moisturizers formulated to cleanse, hydrate, and nourish skin. The products deposit and help to replenish nutrients naturally found in the skin. While the ingredients in these products are similar, the methods of delivery vary to accommodate a variety of beauty maintenance styles. "As a rule, certain consumers have a preference for certain kinds of cleansers," says Michael Cheney, Unilever's director of skin care development. "We created a process called Sequential Recycling, in which we took a number of these products—within each different delivery method—to consumers in order to identify key benchmarks for each of them. The final product we actually created had to beat the benchmark."

    The process, which involved more than 800 consumers and more than 300 formulations, resulted in the Essential Nutrients line, including:

    •Cleansing pillows: patented dual-textured pillows that puff up with a rich lather when activated under warm water, gently removing dull skin and depositing essential nutrients; one side is for gentle exfoliation, the other is for maximum cleansing.

    •Self-foaming cleanser: dispenses nutrient-enriched foam; transforms into a thick lather when wet.

    •Cream cleanser: a soap-free, creamy cleanser that works into a rich lather.

    •Nonfoaming cleansing lotion: a mild, milky, gentle cleansing lotion that can be washed off or removed with a tissue; helps take off makeup while lifting away dirt and impurities from the skin.

    •Clarifying toner: a mild, alcohol-free after-cleansing step with a light, fresh scent; gently removes impurities to refresh and clarify the skin.

    In a similar vein, Dove created three moisturizers under the Essential Nutrients brand that deliver long-lasting results in three different formats: the Day Lotion, a light, non-greasy formula with UVA and UVB sun protection; the Day Cream, with the same nutrients and sun protection as the Day Lotion but in a heavier, richer product; and the Night Cream, which is similar to the Day Cream but without the sun protection.

    Procter & Gamble's Olay brand also introduced a new line of liquid/cream facial cleansers to meet the needs of various skin types. All are designed to thoroughly cleanse while conditioning skin. Olay's Moisture Balancing Face Wash is for all face types, the Olay Gentle Foaming Face Wash is for sensitive skin, the Olay Moisture-Rich Cream Cleanser is for normal/dry skin, and the Olay Deep Cleansing Face Wash is for combination/oily skin.

    Olay additionally launched new moisturizing products, including Olay Sensitive Moisture Therapy lotion/cream moisturizers, which make dry, sensitive skin less sensitive while strengthening the skin's moisture barrier—in a formula that's fragrance-free, color-free, hypoallergenic, and noncomedogenic (it won't clog pores).

    The brand has also expanded its Olay Complete All Day Moisture Lotion/Cream UV Defense line—which provides all-day moisture plus SPF 15 broad-spectrum UVA and UVB sun protection—with three new versions, one for normal to dry skin, one for sensitive skin, and one for combination/oily skin.

    And if that weren't enough, the company also introduced Olay Complete Plus, a line of products that intensely moisturizes extra-dry skin for a healthy, younger-looking complexion, available in a moisture lotion and a cream product, both with UVA/UVB protection; a night cream; and a tinted moisturizer.

    P&G's Noxzema brand, instead of creating a product for each need, went in the opposite direction and developed its Daily Exfoliating Cleanser to handle multiple face care needs in one use. "We found that while 64 percent of women want to improve the appearance of their skin, they don't want to add steps to their cleansing regimen," says Noxzema brand manager Bruce Katsman. "They like to wash their faces and move on."

    Meeting consumers' needs

    Katsman points out another instance of a disparity in consumers' face care needs and how Noxzema addresses those needs. "What we found from our consumer insights was that 77 percent of women believe that exfoliating every day helps their skin look best," he says. "Yet only 10 percent of women do it daily." The reason, according to Katsman, is that many of the exfoliating products in the market today are too harsh on the skin to use every day.

    The Noxzema Daily Exfoliating Cleanser uses a dual-action formula that incorporates an emollient cream base to clean skin down to the pores without overdrying. Skin-smoothing microbeads gently exfoliate to help reveal fresh, polished skin. "The beads are rounded and synthetically made," Katsman says. "You can feel them, but they're not harsh. The product can be used every day without hurting the skin."

    P&G's Olay offers an additional option for one-step cleansing solutions with its new Daily Facials Express, which comes in two versions—one for all skin types and one for sensitive skin.

    For teen-agers, however, clean and glowing skin is not enough—it also has to be pimple-free. "Teens are extremely appearance-conscious today," says Darcy Sefer, brand manager for GlaxoSmithKline's Oxy. "There's a lot of pressure to look good among their peers, and they want to be noticed for themselves, not their pimples."

    For this vulnerable market, Oxy's Deep Pore Cleansing Pads contain 2 percent salicylic acid—the maximum allowable level—to unclog pores to let oxygen in to help stop acne bacteria. "Oxy has a strong brand equity in pads," Sefer says. "We also have treatment cream and a face wash. We always look to innovate on the Oxy business to meet the needs of our market."

    With all these products available—many of them performing similar functions across brands—it's easy for consumers to get lost. Marketing is how companies can differentiate themselves and educate the consumer.

    It's especially important not to throw all of the products at consumers, which may send them to another area of the skin care aisle. "There's no single consumer need or expectation," Noxzema's Katsman says. "If we tell consumers what regimens to use, most are irritated by it; it suggests they're missing something."

    Dove's Waxman also says that giving consumers a choice is crucial. "We didn't create our line as a regimen," he says. "Each of our products delivers nutrients to the skin to bring out the glow. They can create their own regimens with what we have to tone, cleanse, and moisturize."

    Both Unilever and P&G recommend that retailers take advantage of the power of their brands in developing their shelf sets. "Dove is very powerful with the consumer in the marketplace," Waxman says. "The brand's in one of three households. As we launch new categories in face care, we will build on that strength."

    One-two punch

    P&G ties in the Noxzema and Olay brands, creating a one-two punch on the shelf. "If you're a retailer and looking to draw consumers into the store, the Olay-Noxzema combination is powerful in terms of its ability to attract a broad section of consumers that retailers want," says P&G's Katsman.

    In addition, both companies launched massive television and magazine advertising campaigns to reach consumers in their homes—in some cases partnering with consumer magazine publishers to deliver additional added-value marketing programs when both the products and the magazines with those product advertisements are in the same store.

    Oxy pursued a different marketing strategy, one uniquely suited to its market. "Since 70 percent of teens are on the Internet, we have a large effort underway to reach them on the Web," Oxy's Sefer says. So the company created a "viral marketing plan" to wipe out acne bacteria.

    Oxy's Web site, oxyoxygen.com, which taps into teens' familiarity with the character from its advertising campaigns, gives them the opportunity to turn themselves into the next Oxy character. Called "The New Face of Oxy," the promotion allows Web site visitors to create their own character. Entrants must build a character on the site and submit a 100-word essay on why it should be the next character for the promotion. Judging will be held this month, and 10 characters will be selected as finalists. In October, visitors will be able to vote on which character they like best. After one week the finalists will be reduced to five, then three the week after that, with the winner to be selected the following week. The status of the contestants will be shown graphically each week. "This will create a lot of buzz on the Internet and is the viral marketing component," says Oxy consumer promotion manager Brenda Kale. "Teen participants will e-mail their friends to ask them to vote for their character, so the reach will dramatically extend during the promotion, to the benefit of retailers." The winner will have the chance to have his or her character featured in upcoming Oxy advertising, and will also receive a trip to Florida with his or her family.

    Oxy has also produced a Yahoo IMVironment, accessible from the Yahoo home page, which allows users to create the new face of Oxy, right inside their IM windows. Each user can click on eyes, nose, mouth, or hair; choose a style; and drag it to where it should be on the face. "We want to also entertain teens," Kale says. "They don't want to take things too seriously, so we make it fun for them."

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