Paul Stoneham, marketing director at Procter & Gamble (Oil of Ulay), gives his opinion on the sector

“One of the unique things about this market is its segmentation by distinct distribution channels. Single manufacturer direct channels, like Avon and dedicated retailers such as Body Shop, are closed to competitors, which leaves the open channels: department stores and high street major multiples such as Boots or Sainsbury’s. Oil of Ulay and the other mass market brands are operating in the multiple arena.

“This market is growing in value, although not in consumption, as consumers have become more demanding and sophisticated in the past few years. The specialist and performance products are driving market growth, women are trading up to ‘richer’ products such as Ulay Eye Contour Gel or Wrinkle Smoothing Cream which are bringing high performance products down from the premium sector to the mass market.

Women are hungry for credible information about new technology and products. We have successfully used sampling to get over the consumer cost barrier of trial, but we concentrate on TV advertising because of the richness of the medium and the way it can dramatise Ulay’s clear benefits and results.

Women are loyal to their facial care products – they appreciate the risks of failure – but it is always a challenge to keep consumers satisfied, by staying at the leading edge of technology. In the mass market sector, the new Ulay products, Nivea Visage and Ponds Performance are all growing from strong base equities; core products with established appeal and a loyal consumer franchise.”