P&G Germany tests water with bath brands 50+

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SCHWALBACH -- Procter & Gamble in Germany is trialling an addition to its Litamin bath and shower gel range that is thought to be the first aimed specifically at women over 50.

Litamin Hydro Vital carries the Vital label that P&G has already applied to its Oil of Ulay facial care line in a launch last summer which similarly targets mature women. The new range of three products - premium-priced bath gel and shower gel with or without fragrance - is backed by dermatologists' tests and contains special ingredients to moisturise the skin. Dry skin is claimed by 85% of women over 50 in Germany (15.9 million of them) to be their main skin care problem, according to P&G research.

Women of this age provide a rich marketing opportunity for skin care manufacturers: their skin requires more attention and, as part of the "gray" market, they constitute one of the western economy sectors with the highest disposable income.

P&G rival Beiersdorf, the Hamburg-based cosmetics, toiletries and OTC drugs company, pioneered this sector in the mass market with Nivea Vital, launched two years ago in Switzerland.

Its progression into other European countries was brought forward to the beginning of 1995 on the basis of its success, the company claimed. Within just seven months of its Swiss launch, it had made it to the No. 4 spot in the facial care market, behind L'Oreal's Plenitude in third place, P&G's Oil of Ulay and top-ranked Nivea Visage. L'Oreal had previously in 1995 introduced Quintessence in France for women going through the menopause, but that was sold only at pharmacies. P & G is likely to begin the European roll-out of its Oil of Ulay Hydro Vital line in a couple of months if its trial is deemed successful.

Grey Dusseldorf, which also handles the other Litamin products, will mount a heavyweight TV campaign behind the Vital bath and shower gels this month, featuring the 52 year old actress Gila von Weitershausen. TBWA handled Nivea Vital's launch across Europe that used the model Susanne Schoneborn, who was 53 at the time.

P&G acquired Litamin as part of the Blendax-Werke acquisition in 1986. It is marketed in Germany only but it ranks second behind Nivea in the highly competitive bath and shower gel market.

Copyright October 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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