NEW FINESSE ENTERS CROWDED SHAMPOO SET

NEW YORK -- Supermarket buyers such as Pete Gassenberger, director of pharmacy and health and beauty care for Consumers Food and Drug, a 20-store Midwest chain, admit that the shampoo field is overcrowded.But he will make room for two new Finesse conditioners -- Deep Fortifying Conditioner and Leave-In Conditioner -- as well as a new fragrance for a revamped Finesse line from Helene Curtis, Chicago."We

NEW YORK -- Supermarket buyers such as Pete Gassenberger, director of pharmacy and health and beauty care for Consumers Food and Drug, a 20-store Midwest chain, admit that the shampoo field is overcrowded.

But he will make room for two new Finesse conditioners -- Deep Fortifying Conditioner and Leave-In Conditioner -- as well as a new fragrance for a revamped Finesse line from Helene Curtis, Chicago.

"We try to carry a representative sample of everything -- variety helps to sell shampoo," said Gassenberger.

Helene Curtis, an operating unit of Unilever, introduced its newly reformulated and repackaged "Touchably Beautiful" Finesse brand at a press conference here earlier this month.

The new packaging features the brand's distinctive, deep-metallic-blue color for shampoos and styling aids, as well as an updated silvery-blue metallic color for conditioner products.

"New Finesse is the largest brand restage in Helene Curtis' history, and it's supported by a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign," said Gail Harvey, Finesse marketing manager.

The brand targets women ages 18 to 49. All of the new Finesse formulas, including hair sprays and styling aids, now feature advanced Hydrating Silk Proteins in its formula.

To promote the brand Finesse has two new 30-second TV spots that feature country-music star Lyle Lovett. The campaign launched nationally on Feb. 10. Print ads will run next month in issues of beauty, fashion, entertainment and lifestyle magazines.

The restaged Finesse brand also includes an extensive product sampling effort consisting of freestanding inserts in Sunday newspapers and in-store sampling.

The suggested retail price for Finesse's 15-ounce conditioner is $3.49 and $4.49 for the 22-ounce size.

Gassenberger said the average grocery price on Finesse products in southwest Missouri is $3.49, while Wal-Mart prices it at $2.68.

Supermarkets don't need to be quite that inexpensive, he said, but they have to be in the ballpark to remain competitive. "Shampoo sells well, but it's not a high-margin item," he added.