TOM'S OF MAINE PUTS ITS BRAND ON NEW WELLNESS LINE: BROADCAST, PRINT ADS WILL BACK NEW PRODUCTS IN 5 CATEGORIES

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Tom's of Maine is expanding from personal care into the hot area of alternative healthcare with a new line of products.

The company, famous for its natural toothpaste, next month launches the Tom's of Maine Natural Wellness line, using hip ingredients such as echinacea and ginseng.

The products will be available nationwide in health food stores. Tom's also will test them in mass merchandisers in New England, and a national rollout in mass markets could come next year.

The Natural Wellness products are broken into four categories: liquids with herbal extracts; cough and cold rubs and a muscle balm; echinacea tonics; and nasal decongestants. An additional line of herbally derived teas is expected to be launched later in the fall.

A spot TV, radio and print campaign from Burkhardt & Hillman, New York, is set to break next month to support the line. Tom's of Maine spent $4.2 million is measured media in 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Tom's, in partnership with the University of Illinois-Chicago, is setting up a toll-free line that will offer information on specific herbs and their uses.

By expanding into wellness, Tom's of Maine hopes to leverage its strength in personal care. Besides toothpaste, Tom's markets baby shampoo, soap, deodorant and shaving cream. The company had $30 million in sales last year.

"This is really a natural progression," a company spokeswoman said. "We've been taking care of the outside and we want to take care of the whole person."

The move into herbal products comes after Tom's earlier this year purchased Vermont-based Green Mountain Herbs, which produces botanical extracts.

HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS HIT $4 BIL

Sales of herbal supplements have increased dramatically over the past decade to $4 billion in 1998, according to the American Botanical Council. Reasons range from a consumer desire to take charge of their own health to more restrictive insurance policies that force people to look elsewhere for prevention and treatment options.

Tom's positions itself as a feel-good company. It bills its products as all natural without added dyes and preservatives, and doesn't test products on animals. And 10% of Tom's annual pre-tax profits are donated to charity.

Founder and CEO Tom Chappell, who took time off from running the company several years ago to attend Harvard Divinity School, has a second book scheduled to come out this fall on how to make a company financially profitable and socially

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