VITAMIN RICH

A very active skin care industry is developing product after product aimed at aging baby boomers, and in the long run supermarkets expect to benefit strongly from the trend.Last year alone, skin care product launches were up by about 40%. A significant number of these were multifunctional products, infused with vitamins or herbal extracts and formulated to help slow the aging process.Information Resources

A very active skin care industry is developing product after product aimed at aging baby boomers, and in the long run supermarkets expect to benefit strongly from the trend.

Last year alone, skin care product launches were up by about 40%. A significant number of these were multifunctional products, infused with vitamins or herbal extracts and formulated to help slow the aging process.

Information Resources Inc., Chicago, reports that in the 52 weeks ended March 29, sales of facial moisturizers and cleansers rose 13.9% to $1.4 billion. In the same period, hand- and body lotions increased by 6% to $843 million.

Supermarket sales of facial products grew by 14.7% to $321.4 million, while hand- and body-lotion sales increased by 3.7% to $226.9 million.

While many retailers polled by SN had not yet gauged the sales of their new skin care products, they expected these products to have positive results because of current trends.

"These products should definitely do well in supermarkets because of the concern with health today," said Nancy Landry, health and beauty care category manager for D&W Food Centers, Grand Rapids, Mich. "There is a strong potential market moving this way."

Rob Boley, a spokesman for Fred Meyer Inc., Portland, Ore., said the products that sell the best are "the ones that get the most advertising support, like Face Lift Vitamin C Anti-Wrinkle Patch from University Medical."

University Medical Products, Irvine, Calif., introduced its facial patch, which releases vitamin C into the skin during sleep, in February. The company is trying to build awareness through sampling and a national magazine ad campaign, and it plans to bring out an extra-strength vitamin C patch for hands and forehead before the end of the year.

"This year, the company plans to bring in all the supermarket chains to feature the product," said Raymond Francis, chief executive officer. "They are a natural distribution point because the product is geared for consumers in the 35- to 65-year-old range."

"Overall, we see new skin care products with vitamins and other healthy ingredients as a new and emerging product line in supermarkets," Boley said.

Mike Indursky, skin care category manager for Pond's, a division of Unilever Home & Personal Care USA, Greenwich, Conn., indicated that many supermarkets "lost a step because they wanted to stay in low-cost products." But, he added, "there is growing acceptance now of preventive skin care products."

Pond's marketed a body lotion line this year for the first time, with four products that feature many of the same ingredients found in its facial skin care offerings.

Pond's Ultra Silk Body Lotion contains alpha- and betahydroxy acids; vitamins A and E; and green tea extract. It comes in 4-ounce, 9-ounce and 13-ounce containers that retail for $3.99, $5.99 and $7.99, respectively. Pond's Silk Gloves Hand Cream, infused with vitamins A and E, sells for $5.99 for a 4-ounce bottle, as does its Peppermint Foot Massage Lotion, which contains aloe, peppermint and menthol.

The line is rounded out by aromatherapy capsules, which promise a "mini-getaway" when broken open and applied to the neck, temples and wrists. Suggested retail price is $11.49 for a jar of 20 capsules.

In February, Freeman Cosmetic Corp., Los Angeles, launched a six-item skin care line of formulations containing vitamins A, B5, C and E, as well as botanicals and antioxidants. The line includes an 8-ounce cleanser and toner for $5.99, a 2.5-ounce moisturizer with SPF 15 for $6.99, a 2.5-ounce "pore masque" for $5.99, a 0.5-ounce eye cream for $7.99, a 1-ounce night repair cream for $7.99 and a 2.5-ounce self-tanner with SPF 8 for $6.99.

Last month the company began a national TV and magazine blitz, and in August it will introduce a freestanding-insert-coupon program. Freeman will back the line further with fourth-quarter sampling and gift-with-purchase promotions.

"We're really trying to drive display and visibility in-store through circulars, Sunday mailers and ad promotions," said Jeff McCurrach, marketing director for Andrew Jergens Co., a subsidiary of Kao Corp. of America, Cincinnati. "Basic volume can be enhanced through in-store educational materials to help consumers understand and adopt new technologies."

In May, Jergens, which last year launched the hugely successful Biore line of facial pore strips for women ages 18 to 34, introduced a line called Jergens Face Care that is aimed at women 35 to 55. There are six products in the line, each containing vitamin E: moisturizing creamy cleanser, a foaming face wash, a replenishing formula, moisture lotion, protective moisture lotion and a daily nourishing cream. Prices range from $3.99 to $7.99.