Biore battles back in skincare to thwart inroads of Pond's

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Biore will launch two new skincare products next year in an attempt to retain leadership of the $600 million category it reinvented just two years ago.

Faced with an army of competitors that have since inundated the market, the unit of Andrew Jergens Co. will unveil Blemish Fighting Cleanser and Blemish Bomb, two new products to fight pimples.

The cleanser expands on Biore's Foaming Cleanser product by adding acne-fighting ingredients to keep skin clear, while the Blemish Bomb is a treatment gel that hardens into a peelable patch to shrink pimples and reduce their redness overnight.

ADS DUE IN MARCH

Both products, on shelves in January, will be backed by a combined $6 million advertising campaign from Deutsch, New York. The ads, which debut in March, will be the last Biore work from Deutsch, which resigned the account in late October after it won an assignment from Reflect.com, an Internet venture from Procter & Gamble Co.

The search for a new shop continues; Biore is considering several agencies, including Bozell, which already handles sibling brands Jergens and Curel, said Kenny Robinson, marketing director for Biore.

The ad campaign will include print, radio and TV ads and also may include sampling for Blemish Bomb, Mr. Robinson said. That sampling effort would be similar to the introduction of Pore Perfect Pore Strips in 1997, Mr. Robinson added. That effort distributed samples of the blackhead-removing strips via magazines and events nationwide.

Biore opened up a new category in the $574.3 million U.S. skin cleanser market by targeting adults who suffer from enlarged pores and occasional breakouts, instead of acne or wrinkles. But in 1999, both mass-market and prestige lines recognized the potential in post-teen breakouts and latched on to that market with a vengeance (AA, June 28).

Biore's corporate parent-Japanese household-products giant Kao Corp.-has high expectations for Biore, but it's too cautious when it comes to launching new product and spending on promotions, said Ken Harris, a consultant at Cannondale Associates.

Biore spent $40.8 million in measured media in 1998, and $14.2 million in the first half of 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting. By comparison, for Biore's main competitor Pond's, Unilever spent $53.7 million in 1998 and $21 million in the first half.

"This is a very high-stakes battle [and] it comes down to execution. If Kao decides it really wants to be in the market, it's going to have to invest," Mr. Harris said.

CONTINUING TO INNOVATE

Biore knows it has to keep the innovations coming to hold its top spot, Mr. Robinson said. He has high hopes for Blemish Bomb, citing Biore's market research that found 50% of women 18 to 39 years old said their greatest skincare problem is preventing breakouts.

Products are usually copied quickly in this segment, Mr. Robinson explained. Biore's last innovation was the self-heating mask, a product now more than a year old, so copycats should be arriving on shelves soon, he said.

"In the consumer's mind, you're only new for about six months, then you have to have something new," he said.

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