Olay Case Study Creating a successful ‘masstige’ anti-aging product line CASE STUDIES

Olay Case Study
Creating a successful ‘masstige’ anti-aging product line
Reference Code: CSCM0318
Publication Date: May 2010
The anti-aging skincare market has grown significantly in recent years due to increasing consumer interest in products that
reduce the appearance of aging. This case study looks at one of the newest anti-ager products to be launched in the US
market, Olay Pro-X, and how the product is aiming to attract consumers with a unique, effective ingredient which has the
support of industry experts and the media.
Anti-aging skincare is the largest category in the US facial skincare market, worth over $2 billion in 2009. The
category is perceived as recession-resistant by industry players due to the continued desire of consumers to
maintain their skincare regimes even in weaker financial markets, particularly if this will maintain the
appearance of youth.
Procter & Gamble's (P&G’s) Olay brand is the leading facial skincare brand in the US. The company has
capitalized on the success of Olay by developing numerous sub-brands which encompass products at a
variety of price points, aimed to attract consumers with different budgets.
The most recent Olay sub-brand to reach the market is Olay Pro-X, which marks the company's first entry into
the premium skincare category. Priced at a similar level to high end brands, the product aims to appeal to
consumers with an independently verified, effective anti-aging formula which has been well received by both
the media and industry experts.
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Aging populations and consumers' desire to look young for longer has helped the antiaging skincare category soar
Anti-aging skincare has grown in popularity throughout the past decade as consumers seek new and effective ways to
improve their skin. The market has been heightened by aging populations in developed nations and an increased desire in
both older and younger consumers to retain youthful skin, with fewer wrinkles, less sagging and less discoloration.
Anti-agers constitute the largest category in the US facial skincare market
The anti-agers skincare category was worth $2.4 billion in 2009 and as such is the largest in the US facial skincare market.
The category has performed strongly in the past, growing with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.7% in 2004–
09, benefiting from an aging population and the heightened desire of consumers to look younger. The anti-agers market is
predicted to experience continued growth in the future, with a CAGR forecast of 4.3% in the 2009–14 period. This is higher
than all other skincare categories apart from the much smaller exfoliating scrubs sector. As a result, anti-agers have
enticed main players and smaller companies to launch relevant products, in an attempt to gain a slice of this lucrative
Table 1:
US facial skincare market value by category ($m), 2004–14
CAGR 2004–09
CAGR 2009–14
Other moisturizers
Night creams
Creams and gels
Cleansing wipes
Face masks
Fade creams
Pore strips
Exfoliating scrubs
Facial skincare overall
Source: Datamonitor's Market Data Analytics
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Anti-agers are perceived as recession-proof by some market players, with launches rising substantially in
The recession has not stymied the growth of the anti-aging skincare category. Indeed it has had the opposite effect,
encouraging more players to enter the market. Anti-aging treatments are perceived by many as being recession-proof due
to the continued desire of women to maintain their skincare regimes, and reluctance to cut back on products that could help
them look younger. Growth in new launches highlights that market players share this view. Figure 1 shows that the number
of anti-aging skincare products launched in the US market grew strongly in 2009, to 805 new stock keeping units (SKUs),
accounting for almost a quarter of the overall skincare launches for this year. This shows that there is a strong belief that
consumers will continue to demand anti-aging treatments, even if the financial climate is weaker.
Figure 1:
Anti-aging skincare launches rose strongly in 2009
Number of skincare products launched in the US tagged anti-aging, 200509
Number of SKUs
% of overall skincare
Source: Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics
Consumers have a strong desire for anti-aging skincare products
Datamonitor's 2009 Consumer Survey highlights the strong appeal of anti-aging skincare to consumers, finding that over
46% of respondents in the US believed that anti-aging benefits were “important” or “very important” attributes in their
skincare product choices (see Figure 2). This suggests that the market may indeed be recession-resistant, as consumers
continue to covet anti-aging benefits even in the midst of a recession. This would appear to justify the high number of
product launches in the recession, as market players seek to address the sustained demand for anti-aging products.
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Figure 2:
Anti-aging benefits are a core feature in skincare for many consumers
How important are the following product attributes in your choice of skincare
products: anti-aging benefits
% of respondents
Important or very important
Neither important nor
Source: Datamonitor's 2009 Consumer Survey
Not important or very
Market players seek differentiation with innovative anti-aging products
With so many competitors vying for consumer attention in the anti-aging skincare category, manufacturers need to ensure
their products have stand out appeal in order to have the best chance of succeeding. Innovation among anti-aging
treatments is therefore high, with novel product features ranging from packaging design to ingredient formulation and
product promise. A selection of recent innovative product launches in the US is shown in Figure 3, including a product that
has to be kept in the freezer, a crow's feet corrector pen, a gene-targeted cream and a cell growth stimulator.
One aspect that a high proportion of anti-aging skincare products have in common, however, is the claim of ‘upscaling’. As
shown in Figure 4, upscale was the leading claim in new product launches in the US in the 2005–09 period, with nearly
17% of new launches being touted as upscale. Market players often place anti-aging treatments at a higher price range and
make a premium claim in order to justify this. Meanwhile, other popular claims in new product launches include health
derived claims such as ‘high in antioxidants’ and ‘natural’ claims. Such claims are designed to highlight that a product is
kind to the skin and does not contain harsh chemicals, a perception that some consumers may have of anti-aging creams
and one which manufacturers are keen to discourage.
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Figure 3:
A range of anti-aging products that have innovative features
Votre Vu - Les Sorbet
Advanced Care Iced Serum
for Face is an anti-aging
cream designed to be stored
in the freezer
Avon Anew Clinical Crow's Feet Corrector
Pen is touted as the first
2-in-1 treatment to
resurface & visibly fill
crow's feet
Lancome Genifique Eye
Korres Quercetin & Oak
Youth Activating Eye
Antiaging & Antiwrinkle OilConcentrate is touted as
Control Treatment is
the first eye care that
"clinically proven to reduce
boosts the activity of
the presence of oil,
minimize pores, repair
wrinkles, and increase skin
Source: Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics
Figure 4:
Upscale and high vitamins are the leading claims in recent anti-aging skincare launches in the US
Leading claims in anti-aging skincare launched in the US, 2005-09
% of
High Antioxidants
High Vitamins
High Antioxidants
High Vitamins
Source: Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics
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P&G has attempted to enhance Olay's competitive edge by developing a ‘masstige’ skincare
Olay is the leading brand in the US facial skincare market
Olay is one of P&G's strongest brands. Launched by Adams National Industries in 1959 as Oil of Olay, in 1970 Olay was
acquired by Richardson Merrill, which later became Richardson-Vicks. In 1985, P&G bought Richardson-Vicks and the
Olay brand became part of its portfolio. The brand was for many years called Oil of Ulay in the UK and Oil of Olaz in other
territories, but was globally renamed Olay in 2000. In 2003, sales of Olay broke the $1 billion barrier, highlighting the
continued strength of the brand. By 2008, Olay had become the leading brand in the US facial skincare market, holding a
16.7% market value share, a significantly higher share than the second leading brand (also owned by P&G), Pond's (see
Table 2).
Table 2:
Leading brands in the US facial skincare market by value, 2008
Procter & Gamble Company, The
Procter & Gamble Company, The
Procter & Gamble Company, The
L'Oreal Paris
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson
L'Oreal S.A.
L'Oreal S.A.
Source: Datamonitor's Market Data Analytics
Percentage share by value, 2008
P&G has capitalized on the strength of the Olay brand by developing sub-brands to suit different price
P&G has developed a variety of sub-brands under the Olay brand (see Figure 5), aiming to capitalize on the brand's high
status. These sub-brands align to different value tiers with the aim of attracting consumers from a range of demographic
groups, a strategy which the company chairman explained in a P&G earnings call:
“In virtually all of our industries, there are three or four value-price tiers. That's what we call the vertical portfolio, and there
are three or four benefit segments. In a four-by-four matrix you've got 16 different consumer segments. They're all buying
what they think is the best value. Women buying Olay Pro-X thinks she's buying the best value for her, and the women
buying the most basic complete moisturizer that we sell at $5 to $10 thinks she's buying the best value for her.”
A.G. Lafley, P&G chairman, as quoted in the company's fourth-quarter earnings call, 2009
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The Olay sub-brands are as follows:
Olay Total Effects – Olay's cheapest sub-brand is said to provide the benefits of seven anti-aging therapies: line
minimization; nourishing moisturization; tone enhancement; gentle exfoliation; pore refinement; free radical
defense and subtle lifting.
Olay Regenerist – Olay's mid-priced range is formulated with Olay Amino-Peptide Complex. Regenerist
combines a specific pentapeptide, Pal-KTTKS, with other anti-aging ingredients (vitamin B3, vitamin E, provitamin B5, green tea extract, and allantoin).
Olay Complete – another mid-priced range, this is said to provide the skin with sun protection (UVA/UVB
protection), vitamins (vitamins A, C, D and B5) and also contains moisturizers with green tea extract.
Olay Definity – also mid-priced, this contains a glucosamine complex which is designed to "fight what ages you
Olay Pro-X – Olay's premium-priced brand designed to provide younger looking skin in 28 days by boosting cell
turnover rate.
Figure 5:
P&G produces a range of sub-brands under the Olay brand, priced to suit different demographics
Cover Girl & Olay Simply Ageless Eye
Olay Total Effects 7-in1 Anti-Aging Booster
Eye Cream +
Olay Regenerist
Olay Complete Ageless Olay Definity Neck &
Advance Anti-Aging
Skin Renewing UV Chest Daily Restoration
Foaming Cleanser
Source: Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics
Olay's Pro-X is P&G's first attempt to target an upmarket segment
P&G's latest Olay offering is Pro-X, which was launched in the US in 2008, and subsequently introduced in other markets
including Canada, the UK and China. The sub-brand is notable in being P&G's first venture into premium skincare, with
products under the Pro-X line retailing for between $42 and $62. Its key differentiating factor from other anti-aging
treatments is that it contains the peptide complex Pal-KT. Developed by P&G scientists, Pal-KT is designed to make skin
look firmer by enhancing collagen production in skin cells.
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Olay Pro-X rivals department-store brands such as Clinique and Lancôme in price, but is distributed throughout drug,
discount and supermarket channels. The Pro-X launch shows that P&G is aiming to encourage growth of the Olay brand by
competing across pricing points, positioning this ‘masstige’ offering alongside its other lower priced Olay sub-brands.
The Olay Pro-X range consists of the following:
Primary Moisturizing Solution – Wrinkle Smoothing Cream, Age Repair Lotion SPF 30, Hydra Firming Cream.
Targeted Specialized Treatments – Discoloration Fighting Concentrate, Deep Wrinkle Treatment, Eye
Restoration Complex, Skin Tightening Serum, Intensive Firming Treatment.
Complete Regimen Protocols – Intensive Wrinkle Protocol, Anti-aging Starter Protocol.
Cleansers – Exfoliating Renewal Cleanser, Restorative Cream Cleanser.
Figure 6:
Olay launched its professional style range Pro-X in 2008
Source: Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics
The Pro-X line has been a financial success in the US
Early sales of the Pro-X range in the US were reportedly strong. In P&G's Q4 conference call in August 2009, the company
noted that "Olay Pro-X continues to grow approaching a 6% all-outlet value share on a past three months basis". A few
months later at its company earnings conference call in October 2009, P&G commented that Olay Pro-X was on pace to
generate year one retail sales of nearly $100m. This is a strong result for the product which highlights the strength of the
anti-aging category.
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Products from the Pro-X range have been awarded prizes by the media
Pro-X has also been well received by the media, winning numerous awards. The Olay Professional Pro-X Eye Restoration
Complex was selected as “the Best Eye Product” in America’s Healthiest Beauty Buys 2009, held by Health magazine,
while the Olay Professional Pro-X Age Repair Lotion SPF 30 won the “Prevention 2009: Defy Your Age Beauty Award” in
the Best SPF Day Lotion Category. Such acknowledgements could encourage consumers to try the product due to
independent verifications of the line's efficacy.
P&G's thorough research into skin aging has enabled the company to be a step ahead of its competitors
One of the ways in which P&G is aiming to create stand out appeal for its products is by developing innovative ingredients
which are unique to its brands and which have been shown to have strong anti-aging properties. For example, the company
has utilized Pal-KT in the Olay Pro-X line, which it developed in its research labs. Pal-KT is a trademark name for a type of
peptide, a short strand of amino acids which form the building blocks of proteins. It encourages fibroblast skin cells which
produce collagen to increase their output of the firming protein. By undertaking thorough experimentation at the research
and development stage, the company can be one step ahead of the competition by enhancing consumer interest in its
novel formulas.
The Pro-X line includes the following additional active ingredients:
Retinyl propionate – a patented and less irritating form of retinol (a form of vitamin A) and propionic acid (a
liquid fatty acid), which has been found to have a positive effect on collagen synthesis and barrier protection.
Niacinamide – a form of vitamin B3, which is said to improve moisture retention, fine lines and hyperpigmentation.
Hexamidine – a chemical which helps lock in moisture; studies show it also helps to improve the pathways for
lipids (fats) to travel through the skin layers, thereby improving thickness.
Current work at P&G research labs reportedly focuses on exploring new ways of boosting the skin's ability to retain
moisture as well as to keep germs from seeping into the body. In addition, they are also said to be researching stem cells
and gene triggers as a way to prevent and reverse the signs of aging.
"We are trying to gain a deeper, molecular understanding of the skin-aging process".
Jay Tiesman, biologist and genomics research group leader at P&G, quoted in Scientific American magazine, 2009
Pro-X has gained good publicity from independent, professional verification that its ingredients combat
P&G has received positive feedback regarding the effectiveness of the Pro-X line from scientists, whose independent
verification could enhance consumer trust and loyalty in the brand.
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Before launch, Pro-X underwent a scientific trial in a similar manner to a prescriptive drug. A panel of eight dermatologists,
including Christopher Griffiths of the University of Manchester, UK, was asked to devise the format of the study,
recommending that the product be tested over a prolonged period of time. In the study, 99 women volunteers were given
three Olay Pro-X products to use for a period of eight weeks, and 97 were prescribed tretinoin (a prescribed wrinkle
treatment and form of retinoic acid). After this period, the women using Pro-X reportedly showed a significant improvement
in the appearance of their wrinkles compared with those using tretinoin, and suffered less irritation. The trial was continued
for a further 16 weeks, after which time both treatments were judged to have improved the appearance of wrinkles to about
the same extent.
The trial was recognized as the first long-term trial to show that a cosmetic product is as effective as retinoic acid. Boots in
the UK undertook a smaller study in 2007 for its Protect and Perfect product, in which it was compared with retinoic acid in
a 12-day trial. The product gained positive publicity after the trial showed that there was less sun damage in biopsies of
skin treated with Protect and Perfect. However, Pro-X's more in-depth study provides the brand with enhanced appeal by
showing that it can be effective in treating wrinkles over a prolonged period of time.
"I think these studies will raise the bar, because they show that you can trial these products in the same way that you trial a
drug, and the cosmetics industry has never had to do that before".
Christopher Griffiths of the University of Manchester, UK, quoted in New Scientist, 2010
Product marketing promotes Pro-X as a professional product with effective results
Along with the scientific validation of the brand, P&G has also created a "professional" image for the Pro-X product in order
to entice consumers to purchase it. It has actively used the word "professional" on the label so that there are no doubts as
to the plane the brand is aiming for. Such a strategy has been used by a handful of other US brands, as shown in Figure 7.
Crafting a “professional” image helps to persuade consumers that the products are as good, if not better, than premium
alternatives at combating age-related skin concerns. This notion of a professional product is heightened by company
marketing, which utilizes comparisons of before/after usage images as well as user testimonies on websites and in
marketing campaigns.
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Figure 7:
Skincare product launches marketed as “professional” reached a peak in the US in 2008
Number of skincare products launched in the US tagged professional, 2005-09
No. of SK Us
Source: Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics
The product’s pricing strategy and promotional activity appeals to value-conscious consumers and offers
consumer assurance
Priced at between $42 and $62, Olay Pro-X's price point serves to validate the “professional” and “premium” image of the
product. However, this is a significant amount to pay for a skincare product, especially during the recession when financial
pressures may have compelled consumers to make compromises on their spending choices. The company is aware that
the high price may discourage consumers from purchasing the brand and it has therefore set up a “money-back guarantee”
and rebate scheme (where consumers can send the firm their product receipts to gain a $20 refund on a $50+ purchase of
Pro-X) as an incentive to encourage trial purchase. Nevertheless, the potential risk of this maneuver is that consumers will
not identify the range with its “premium” positioning nor remain loyal to the brand once the price is increased. Olay is
therefore reliant on the consumer belief that its premium skincare range is worth the price, a notion P&G will need to
encourage through effective marketing.
The company is encouraging consumer take-up with an infomercial about Olay Pro-X
While initial sales of Olay Pro-X were strong, the company is keen to maintain product momentum through its marketing. It
has therefore developed a half hour infomercial with the aim of encouraging new consumers to purchase the brand.
"Consumers are information seekers and want to understand the science and technology. That led to this idea... which is
the best of both worlds. We will be able to reach new consumers... but when she wants to go back and purchase it, she
can—in the mass market".
Chris Heiert, Olay marketing director, as quoted in Women's Wear Daily, 2010
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The Olay Pro-X infomercial is said to have cost between $750,000 and $1m to make and aims to capitalize on the success
of the infomercial format in selling personal care products. According to Stylespotter.net, beauty topics rank the third
highest of the 250,000–260,000 infomercials shown each month, behind health and household gadgets, with the format
helping propel brands such as bareMinerals and Proactiv into the multimillion-dollar market.
The Olay infomercial focuses on the science of the product (see Figure 8), interviewing scientists who worked on the Olay
Pro-X range and presenting clinical testing data from the British Journal of Dermatology. It also shows before-and-after
shots of people using the product, a familiar device used in infomercials.
At half an hour long, many people may not wish to sit through the entire presentation. It is therefore imperative that the
infomercial captures the attention of viewers and portrays the product's effectiveness well throughout the presentation, not
only at the end. Consumers may therefore be convinced to purchase the brand if the marketing is done effectively.
Figure 8:
P&G is addressing consumer desire for information with its Olay Pro-X infomercial
A lab scene from Olay Pro-X's new infomercial that reveals the
science behind the anti-aging products
Source: Stylespotter.net
Conclusions and implications
The following conclusions and implications can be drawn from this case study.
Innovation and differentiation are important features in the highly competitive anti-aging skincare market
– an anti-aging skincare brand risks becoming lost in the mountain of new products launched annually in the antiagers sector, unless it provides a novel aspect that will encourage consumers to purchase it over alternative
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products. P&G did this effectively with the Olay Pro-X product, using new ingredient Pal-KT in the formula as a
proven wrinkle treatment. Such research and development should be a leading priority for anti-aging skincare
Consumers are more likely to place their trust in a skincare brand if it has scientific verification of its
efficacy and has achieved recognition by the press – it is important for market players to obtain the support of
industry experts for their products. In the case of skincare producers, dermatologist verification that a product
delivers as promised is an effective means by which to encourage consumer trust in a brand's efficacy claims. In
addition, manufacturers can gain free publicity from being selected to win media prizes. Olay Pro-X has achieved
both scientific and media recognition, which has enabled the brand to enhance its status in the eyes of
consumers as a trusted brand.
Infomercials provide a potentially strong marketing arena for a skincare product to reach consumers and
encourage take-up – infomercials are a relatively new concept to be utilized by personal care players. Yet this
form of marketing has been shown to be effective in building brand loyalty and in encouraging new consumers to
try the product. The attempt to market Olay Pro-X in this format with the aim to capitalize on past brand
successes, and the support of a significant marketing budget, could deliver on the ambition of building sales
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Case study series
This report forms part of Datamonitor's case studies series, which explores business practices across a variety of
disciplines and business sectors. The series covers a range of markets including food and drink, retail, banking and
insurance, pharmaceuticals and software.
Each case study provides a concise evaluation of a company that stands out in some area of its strategic operations,
highlighting the ways in which the company has become one of the best in its field or how it deals with different problems
encountered within that sector.
This case study was compiled using a collection of both primary and secondary research, including Datamonitor’s own
consumer survey fieldwork. In addition to this, writing this case study also involved researching innovative product
formulations on Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics Database, alongside an extensive review of secondary literature
and other in-house sources of information such as Datamonitor’s Market Data Analytics tool.
Secondary sources
Stylespotter.net (2010) Olay Pro-X to Air Infomercial, May 2010
New Scientist (2010) Anti-ageing cream as good as drug at reducing wrinkles, February 2010
Supermarket News (2009) SKIN CARE, October 2009
Scientific American (2009) Treating Wrinkles with Cutting-Edge Technology--Without Going Under the Knife, May
Further reading
Datamonitor (2010) The Future of Makeup: Capitalizing On Emerging Trends and Changing Preferences, March
2010, DMCM4721
Datamonitor (2010) Vaseline Case Study: creating stand out appeal in the body skincare market, March 2010,
Datamonitor (2010) The Future of Skincare: Capitalizing On Emerging Trends and Changing Preferences,
March 2010, DMCM4720
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Ask the analyst
The Consumer Knowledge Center Writing team
[email protected]
Datamonitor consulting
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