CHICAGO -- Helene Curtis here is making a run for a share of the baby care category with the rollout of a new line of Suave Baby Care products later this month.
The line of baby products includes shampoos, powders, oil, lotion, baby bath and wipes and will be priced 25% less than the leading brand, said the company.
The entry, and a response from Johnson & Johnson, the category leader, should bump up the level of advertising and promotion. Consumer products analysts said, however, that they expect the Suave line to have only a minor effect on the market share position of Johnson & Johnson.
"There's been concern for a long time that [J&J's] brand of products would be subject to generic competition," said Margo Vignola, an analyst with Salomon Bros. "In fact, there have been generic brands in the marketplace for a long time, generic baby lotion, shampoos, etc."
Vignola said Helene Curtis's entry shouldn't bring anything different to the category or make competition more intense, because whatever inroads "generic brands" can make on J&J have already been made. Nonetheless, Johnson & Johnson appears to be girding its loins. In an effort "to solidify its position as the leader in baby care products," the company said it is relaunching its baby products line with new packaging and milder formulations.
The company said the relaunch will be supported by twice the consumer advertising activity it had in 1993. More than 400 million 50-cent coupons for its baby products will be distributed from now through December.
For its own part, Helene Curtis plans on trumpeting the arrival with heavy advertising and introductory promotions.