Forecast: Package goods

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While household-product marketers don't acknowledge they delayed new-product launches in hopes of catching the tailwind of a recovery, several have said U.S. marketing budgets are weighted toward the back half of 2002.

Among them: Unilever, with its $60 million launch of Axe men's deodorant and $30 million restage of Wisk laundry detergent, and Colgate-Palmolive Co., with its $50 million launch of Simply White whitening kits.

A.G. Lafley, president-CEO of industry heavyweight Procter & Gamble Co., told analysts recently that the company is working to pace marketing initiatives evenly and that while cost control will still be important in 2003, marketing will be less of a target than other areas.

A step-up in hair-care marketing could buoy early 2003 spending, as retail and marketing executives say P&G, Unilever and Wella all are preparing new hair-color brand or product launches early next year and L'Oreal is expected to bring its Garnier Fructis hair-care brand to the U.S.

Ed Kuehnle, group president of Information Resources Inc., expects a record level of marketing activity in over-the-counter conversions of popular prescription drugs by late this year or early next, including Schering-Plough's Claritin and Astra-Zeneca's Prilosec, to be marketed by P&G.

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