HENKEL'S FA BRAND ENTERS U.S. WITH SHOWER GELS, SOAP: EUROPEAN LINE WILL GET $30 MIL PUSH TO PROPEL GROWING CATEGORY

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Henkel this summer will introduce a line of four scented shower gels and hand soaps into a U.S. market that still likes its soap in a bar.

The German marketer will put $30 million behind the U.S. launch of its Fa bath products, with the campaign breaking in August.

The advertising, from DDB Needham Worldwide, Los Angeles, will include TV and couponing, said David Berglass, senior VP-sales and marketing of Schwarzkopf & Dep, Henkel's U.S. subsidiary.

Mr. Berglass said the company sees opportunity in the fact that fewer than 30% of U.S. consumers currently use shower gels, compared to more than 70% of Europeans.

ALREADY GROWING

The segment is growing already. According to figures from Information Resources Inc., American consumers spent $453.7 million on shower gels in 1998, up 16.2% from 1997.

Procter & Gamble Co.'s Oil of Olay leads the market, with a 17.4% market share, followed by Unilever's Dove at 11.8% and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Clairol Herbal Essences with 10.2%.

Fa, the top-selling body-care brand in Europe, is being used by Henkel as its first major U.S. foray because it's different enough from the current offerings in the market to stand out, Mr. Berglass said.

He noted that shower gels in the U.S. are mostly aimed at treating either dry or oily skin instead of concentrating on fragrance benefits, as European lines do.

MOSTLY EXTENSIONS NOW

Mr. Berglass called the U.S. market "a whitewash of older moisturizing brands," mainly line extensions. The Oil of Olay, Dove and Herbal Essences entries are extensions of facial care, bar soap and shampoo brands, respectively, he noted.

Henkel bought Dep Corp. last year and renamed it, turning it into the springboard for a product assault on the U.S. One earlier result of the acquisition was increased marketing support for Dep's L.A. Looks haircare brand, which recently broke its first TV advertising.

Besides Fa, Henkel has announced plans to bring to the U.S. its Schwarzkopf & Henkel hair coloring later this year. DDB Needham is expected to handle that

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