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The New Age of Antiaging

Contact Author Jeff Falk
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  • Consumers are looking for multifunction ingredients and curbing spending habits.
  • The marketing/benefit message must be more focused and specifics communicated to the consumers.
  • The decision to use a particular raw material should be a mix of both function and how it elevates a brand/story image.
  • Consumer decisions will be driven more by compelling performance than by mere label claims.
  • Consumer expectations for superior packaging for advanced products continue to rise in both mature and developing markets.

The Panel: Allyson Owens, Director of Education, DermaQuest; Frank Massino, CEO, Senetek PLC; Ada Polla, President and CEO, Alchimie Forever; Virginie Lemeunier, Product Manager—Lotion, Rexam Personal Care Division; Ralph J. Manrique, Skin Care Global Marketing Manager, AkzoNobel Surface Chemistry

GCI: Have consumer habits such as spending, product choices, frequency of spend and so on, changed in the last eight months? How have they changed and what have you done to adjust?

Allyson Owens: In the past eight months, accounts have been ordering less. Before they would order larger quantities of the same product, but now those quantities have been cut in half—or even more than half. You can tell they have budgets to work with now and have scaled back on ordering. It seems like they don’t want to be holding too much inventory right now. We are providing our accounts with more marketing materials, samples, point-of-purchase displays, shelf talkers, posters, marketing cards, etc., to help them retail products and increase revenue. These days, people are looking for value as well as results. If a product can fulfill many expectations or functions, then that is a great product. Our Peptide Mobilizer can be used on the eye area and on the face, and is our number one age management product.

Frank Massino: Consumer spending has been on the decline, and we see it even in physician visits across the country. Consumers appear to be trying to get more out of a single tube, looking for better pricing, etc. We have implemented several promotional campaigns attempting to address the consumer concern and plan to implement some bundling prices.

Ada Polla: Consumers are still interested in looking younger and in using products that will make them feel and look better. However, they are more budget-conscious. Spas that carry our line are seeing consumers purchase two instead of three or four products—a moisturizer and an eye contour cream, but not a day and night cream and a mask and eye contour cream. As a result, we are adapting our marketing language to emphasize multiple benefits in a single jar. As consumers are also getting facials less frequently, we are emphasizing the importance of a home skin care regimen to maintain the benefits of in-spa treatments.

GCI: Is it enough to simply make an antiaging claim, or do the messages about performance/target treatment area have to become more narrowly focused and communicated to consumers? There are many antiaging products for specific areas of the face, for example. Does a product’s retail success depend on it performing a very specific function? How does this challenge how you market? Does communicating the details on an expansive line make it more difficult to impart a general brand story toward connecting with consumers?

Allyson Owens: We find that a lot of people believe product claims without any background information or specific information about ingredients. However, there are an increasing number of savvy customers who want to know how a product works and what specific ingredients do. It is important to be specific and give customers as much information about a product and its ingredients. We are very up-front at DermaQuest about the performance ingredients we formulate with and even the percentages of the actives we use. We formulate with the highest recommended percentage.

Frank Massino: Definitely the message must be more focused and specifics communicated to the consumers. It seems that a product success initially relates to the amount of advertising dollars being spent, but I am not sure that most consumers, right now, are looking at the specifics, but actually expect a product to do everything. This, perhaps, is the reason that there are so many new products and line extensions introduced—as consumers become frustrated with the overall results. We need to be better at communicating exactly what a product will do and not overstate or overpromise. The biggest issue today in the antiaging treatment area is that there are no barriers to entry—i.e., no required testing to prove and substantiate the claims. Too many [companies] promise the moon, yet there are no true controlled clinical studies to back up their claims. Much of the testing that is being used to allegedly support a claim is done with focus groups; these are not controlled trials but rather opinions.

Ada Polla: I believe that the efficacy of current skin care marketing messages depends on its truth and accuracy. Above all, consumers are looking for truth and trust in marketing. That is more easily achieved from the brand’s perspective if the claim is narrower—i.e., more specific and less open to interpretation. For example: it will “increase skin firmness after one application” instead of “will have antiaging results.” At the end of the day, the consumer will still spend on products that work; that yield results.

GCI: How do you communicate the benefits of your products to consumers who are becoming both savvier about ingredients/claims and have the choice of so many new and evolving products and ingredients?

Allyson Owens: We provide informational sheets showing our ingredient list, our key performance ingredients and percentages used of these ingredients. We also take before-and-after pictures, which is the real proof.

Frank Massino: All Senetek products that are or will be introduced to the physician and consumer market must be advancements and have differential advantages over the existing treatments available. Every product or SKU undergoes significant controlled clinical trials in humans for both safety and efficacy. For example, in regards to safety, each Senetek product is tested for human chromosome aberration, mutagenicity and dermal irritation ... undergoing every test that is required by the FDA for a prescription product, and our testing is animal-free. Then for safety, extensive cell culture work is done for identifying biological activity and then goes before an IRB at a noted university with a well-known department of dermatology for live controlled clinical trials at the university clinic under the guidance of a board-certified dermatologist. During the clinical trial, blood work is done periodically, silicone profilometry and a sort of facial mapping is done—in addition, concrete, computerized specific measurements such as the amount of moisture being retained or loss through the skin barrier, are taken. Senetek is on the leading edge of testing and we are now just beginning to get this message out through conventional media such as print, as well as focusing on new media such as the Internet. We are actively reporting on the excellent clinical findings that physicians have found with our products.

Ada Polla: We have recently invested more in clinical studies, performed by independent labs and based on quantitative (not qualitative) results. While skin care is about magic, dreams and emotions, consumers will more readily try new products if the claims are backed up by data. Mystery, backed by facts …

GCI: How do you stay abreast on ingredient/technology advances and make decisions about any new ingredients/technologies? What do you first evaluate, an ingredient’s function or how it elevates your brand story/image?

Allyson Owens: We meet regularly with raw material manufacturers, attend trade shows and meetings, as well as read trade publications and trade newsletters. The decision to use a particular raw material definitely is a mix of both function and how it elevates a brand/story image. We wouldn’t use an ingredient that didn’t elevate our brand image, but we also wouldn’t choose to use a raw material that doesn’t work or benefit the product formula.

Frank Massino: Senetek [has the benefit] of working with world-class scientists—having the likes of Brian Clark as chief scientific officer, the scientist who discovered the initiation of the protein codon, did the first crystallization of tRNA, heads up the European/Chinese biotechnology transfer task force, ad infinitum. We have at our disposal thought leaders such as Sir John Walker, 1997 Nobel prize winner in chemistry and an expert on nutrition and aging. Perhaps most significant, we are a selected member of the European Proteomage, a collection of 19 independent laboratories that study the science of aging and have various significant collaborations throughout the world—such as the Institute of Experimental Botany in the Czech Republic, the Polish Academy of Biorganic Sciences, etc. We definitively evaluate the function and benefits of the ingredient first and foremost, following our mission in that we will only introduce proprietary compounds possessing differential advantages.

Ada Polla: We are extremely committed to staying current and informed of new technologies and state-of-the-art ingredients. As such, we invest in conferences and courses, sending our R&D team to these educational opportunities. When new ingredients surface, we will, first and foremost, evaluate their fit with our philosophy. We ask, for example, is the new ingredient a plant-based antioxidant, which is the core of our line? If the answer is yes, we then learn more from the supplier, and test the ingredient to see if it might fit into some of the new products in our development pipeline.

A Packaging Perspective

GCI: How have changes in consumer habits impacted what marketers are looking for in terms of packaging? Are they less willing to try an innovative pump, for example, or are they more apt to consider any competitive advantage at this time?

Virginie Lemeunier: Innovation continues to drive our industry, now more than ever, and remains a big part of the ongoing brand-building process. Innovation directly correlates with perceived value—which is more important today, given the number of new product introductions, the cluttered retail environment and the economic pressures consumers face. Personal care products that delight consumers, operate flawlessly and thus eliminate waste, and offer a superior price-value proposition will succeed. Brand owners, therefore, are alert to the need for enhanced end-user experiences, delivered through innovative packaging.

GCI: How are you rising to meet demand for ever newer, better packaging?

Virginie Lemeunier: The emphasis remains on development of new and/or enhanced products, components, decoration techniques, materials and global supply chain management. It’s a never-ending challenge to exceed the requirements of our customers and deliver exceptional packaging solutions that are standouts on the retail shelf. Recent examples include our Nea and Prodigio lotion pumps, both developed to protect today’s formulations. Remember that, throughout the world, consumer expectations for superior packaging continue to rise—not just in so-called mature markets, but throughout the Pacific Rim, South America, Eastern Europe and more. And, not only in the prestige category, but in masstige and mass segments.

GCI: How does packaging help communicate a message about performance?

Virginie Lemeunier: The ergonomics, tactile sense, shape and color and mechanical operation all combine to communicate brand-essence to the consumer. Two quick examples: Smooth lotion pump actuation offers consumers a pleasing end-user experience and enhanced functionality, while airless packaging preserves formulation integrity for the life of the product, which minimizes waste and enhances value.

GCI: Has packaging taken on an even greater importance for a product’s retail success as consumers willingness to spend has diminished?

Virginie Lemeunier: Absolutely. Again, it comes back to building brands for our customers and enhancing perceived value for consumers, through innovative packaging that delivers superior function and form. You have but a few seconds to capture the consumer’s attention at the point of sale. And, once the consumer buys the product, you must create an end-user experience that offers a daily “lift,” especially today, given the worldwide economic challenges consumers face.

GCI: Has creating packaging that protects product, as opposed to simply delivering the product, become a greater impetus in the creation of the packaging as the products and ingredients have grown in sophistication and price?

Virginie Lemeunier: This is so very true, which is why the growth potential for airless packaging is so great. Airless dispensers are being used in mass, masstige and prestige skin care products; in natural and organic products; and even in body care products. Advanced antiaging ingredients require protection from oxygen and contaminants, and brands seek to reduce the amount of preservatives, which led us to the creation of our neutral Nea lotion pump, perfect for organics and other fragile formulations. And, as it relates to the global appeal of airless packaging, we also see increased demand for dispenser tubes—such as those recently used by L’Oréal’s Biotherm Homme and for Coty’s Lancaster brand of SPF products. To further protect the product, [advances have been made] that keep air out, after actuation, and prevents clogging and product buildup.

An Ingredient Perspective

GCI: Have changes in consumer habits impacted antiaging ingredient creation and innovation? If so, how?

Ralph J. Manrique: It depends on which segment you’re looking at—mass or prestige. On the mainstream mass side, consumers are paying more attention to how much they are spending, and thus are reducing the variety of products they are buying. On the prestige side, it appears that consumers haven’t changed their habits significantly. So from an ingredient standpoint, the change in buying habits on the mass side just reinforces the need for multipurpose actives. It also provides an opportunity for consumer products companies to continue their efforts in innovation by formulating products that not only provide improved performance but also target a variety of benefits.

GCI: Is it enough to simply make an antiaging claim, or do the messages about the performance/target treatment area have to become more narrowly focused and communicated to consumers? There are many antiaging products for specific areas of the face, for example. Does a product’s retail success depend on its performing a very specific function?

Ralph J. Manrique: As consumers become more and more knowledgeable and not inclined to accept claims at face value, it is becoming imperative that antiaging claims be substantiated. This further emphasizes the need for solid clinical data, as further exemplified by the rise in challenges to product efficacy claims—including those based on facial-area-specific test results.

GCI: How do antiaging ingredient benefits need to be communicated to today’s consumers, who are becoming both savvier about ingredients/claims and have the choice of so many new and evolving products and ingredients?

Ralph J. Manrique: Consumer decisions will be driven more by compelling performance than by mere label claims and marketing. The bottom line is that any claim must be substantiated, ideally through clinical substantiation and not just with subjective opinion. This holds true for both ingredients and consumer products.

GCI: How is AkzoNobel rising to meet demand for ever newer, better antiaging ingredients?

Ralph J. Manrique: Because AkzoNobel is well positioned in the natural personal care ingredient arena—[providing] starch-derived aesthetic modifiers, viscosifiers, and rheology modifiers—its ingredients are being increasingly formulated into antiaging products. At the same time, we currently do not have ingredients specifically developed for antiaging. However, we are constantly looking at innovative technologies developed inside and outside of AkzoNobel that we can bring to the market. As these technologies are evaluated, we will ensure that their performance is carefully assessed and substantiated by the appropriate clinical data.

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Joel Mantelin (ISP Personal Care) and Monica Olsen (Skin by Monica Olsen) on Antiaging

Additional insight on antiaging (and complementary to "The New Age of Antiaging") from Joel Mantelin, global marketing director, skin care, ISP Personal Care, and Monica Olsen, founder, Skin by Monica Olsen.

What consumer habits have changed over the last eight months (spending, product choices, frequency of spend, etc.), and how have they changed? Has that impacted ingredient creation and innovation? If so, how?

Mantelin: We believe the cosmetic industry is in better shape than other market sectors. Spending and choice may have shifted slightly from mid range products,  in favor of mass market offerings, but the high end of the market does not appear to be too affected. Innovation is driving new launches of high end antiaging creams and lotions.

Olsen: People have changed to less expensive choices, but they are seeking out quality and are more informed. Skin by Monica Olsen has positioned itself nicely into this business model. We entered the market with our prices lower than the competition because we didn’t want to make our products so expensive, but we are also a direct line to the stores, meaning there are no middle-men or distributors to pay, enabling us to keep our prices down. Consumers’ buying decisions have changed in that they are not purchasing as much at one time, rather waiting until they run out to re-purchase, so we are seeing more frequent, smaller purchases. We really haven’t needed to adjust our business at all because we entered the market place with lower prices without jeopardizing quality, which was our mission from conception. The economy changing did not impact our model, but it certainly impacted business as a whole, which is another story.

Is it enough to simply make an antiaging claim, or do the messages about performance/target treatment area have to become more narrowly focused and communicated to consumers? There are many antiaging products for specific areas of the face, for example. Does a product’s retail success depend on it performing a very specific function?

Mantelin: The antiaging claim is not enough, if not supported by perceivable end benefits consumers can understand. Antiaging facial care benefits remain as the primary consumer market driver, with eye products growing in consumer demand due to specific needs in areas like lift and hypo-sensitivity.

Olsen: Consumers are getting smarter, and to claim antiaging without the benefit does not cut it. Consumers have always been hopeful that a brand does what it claims, and people still purchase based on marketing claims, but they won’t buy a second time if the product doesn’t do what it claims. It is important to market your products with as direct a message as you can. The more focused a product is, the better. For example, we have our target specific line, which is specifically targeted to do a function claim, like skin lightening, cellulite reduction or combat under eye wrinkles. These are very targeted and easy for people to understand. We obviously believe this is important from a marketing stand point, but we also believe that a product should be target specific and not try to do everything in one jar. This is not realistic or clinically correct, so for instance, you will never see a day moisturizer with SPF in the Skin by Monica Olsen line. Our Perfection C Day Moisturizing Crème is a daily moisturizer and our SPF is an SPF50, and those should not be in the same bottle because they have specific duties and one doesn’t have anything to do with the other. Many competitors wish to market that way, but we are staying true to the consumer and to ourselves. But with that comes the challenge of having the consumer know who you are because the message is harder to get across, and it is harder to manage from an administrative and inventory/demand standpoint. Ultimately, it becomes a one stop line for the whole family (women, men, baby and mothers) and it becomes a way of life. We are getting there through grass roots activities.

How do an ingredients benefits need to be communicated to today’s consumers, who are becoming both savvier about ingredients/claims and have the choice of so many new and evolving choices, in both products and ingredients?

Mantelin: Marketing innovation based on the latest discoveries in skin and biology science–with exciting new ingredients–will drive the consumer to explore new products in the pursuit of youth. Benefits supported by clinical trials are important, as they support credibility with educated consumers looking for answers in areas like improved skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkle reduction.

How do you communicate the benefits of your products to consumers who are becoming both savvier about ingredients/claims and have the choice of so many new and evolving choices, in both products and ingredients?

Olsen: It is not that much of a challenges to get the consumer to understand. It is harder to get the retailer to understand the difference, because, frankly, they have too much work to do, have too many choices and have a lot of responsibility for the bottom line. Consumers, if they have the choices, will make good decisions. The problem is that they don’t have enough good choices because the buyers are having a hard time getting away from the big power manufactures that don’t make great quality product like Skin by Monica Olsen, but have all the shelf space. Consumers want to know, so the issue is getting to the people with more parking spaces, the spaces are not readily available. We do a lot of demos, and we have bi-lingual product brochures and information sheets for the consumer to understand what they are using. We also have a vast amount of information on our Web site. Word of mouth is working wonders for us, and ultimately the consumer is our judge and best reference.

Has ISP witnessed demand swing one way or another for naturals and synthetics? There seems to be a clear connotation made by consumers that natural is automatically better (safer) than synthetic ingredients. What are the challenges of battling consumer misperception about either type of ingredient?

Mantelin: While the market requests both natural and synthetic ingredients, our challenge is to satisfy both types of consumers with highly efficacious materials. We do so by including both natural and synthetic approaches in our innovation efforts and maintaining an “efficacy first” principle.

How are you rising to meet demand for ever newer, “better” ingredients? Mantelin: Developing ever ‘newer’ ingredients is the first interest of scientists working in the cosmetic industry. Skin is the larger organ of the human body and to transfer the latest outcomes in biologic/dermatologic science to the cosmetic market is a rewarding challenge.

How do you stay abreast on ingredient/technology advances and make decisions about any new ingredients/technologies? What do you first evaluate, an ingredient’s function or how it elevates your brand story/image?

Olsen: We do all of the Skin by Monica Olsen manufacturing in-house and have a great technical staff. Our analytical lab is state of the art, as is our research and development lab. Our first requirement for any ingredient is where it was derived from. Is it a natural chemical or an artificial chemical? Is it available organically or is it derived from animals. These are the first questions, once it has passes our high quality natural standards (certified organic, naturally derived, or a nutraceutical). Secondly, we check for the effectiveness of the ingredient. If it has studies to prove claims we will continue to explore the possibilities. Once that is completed and it passes the claim/function test, then thirdly, we’ll try it in formulation to ensure that it will go into formulation without added synthetic or harmful ingredients. If that is proven, we will proceed to make samples and test the products clinically for results. If we get the expected results we will then go to market and only until then. We make gallons and gallons of product everyday and have the best ingredient minds at our disposal, so we are always being introduced to and reviewing the latest, greatest technology and ingredients. Frankly, packaging options need to catch up to ingredient options. Naturally derived and certified organic ingredients are available, and Skin by Monica Olsen made a decision to only use the best truly natural ingredients and invest valuable resources into making them effective. This is not easy or cheap otherwise everyone would be doing it.

ISP has noted sirtuins as one of the hottest topic in antiaging skin care right now. What should marketers know about sirtuins? What benefits do they offer and how can they help shape a brand story?

Mantelin: ISP pioneered sirtuins in the cosmetic industry a couple of years ago. This breakthrough in antiaging enabled the development of cosmetic products addressing antiaging through an extremely novel approach, “longevity,” a “positive” antiaging claim. [In 2009], ISP is pushing innovation on sirtuins to new heights by launching of Dynachondrine ISR, a new Sirt 3 activator that addresses the cellular energy supply of mitochondria, linking together two fundamental theories of antiaging: longevity (sirt) and anti free-radicals. Dynachondrine ISR is supported by a wide array of targeted studies, including a clinical-based trial.

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