NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With today's strapped consumers an increasingly discerning lot, and the economy yet to achieve a complete rebound, "it's hard to know what's going to get the consumer's attention," Lauren DeSanto of Morningstar says.
Indeed, consumers these days are a hard nut to crack -- which makes the upside all the greater for companies that can do just that.
"The consumers are there if you can really capture their fancy," Sterne, Agee & Leach's Sam Poser says, citing the success of the iPhone even when the economy was terrible -- or how the best New York restaurants still manage to stay busy all the time. "The consumers are waiting for newness. They just want new things that capture their imagination."
Thus, we offer this look at six new consumer products with one common denominator: each of these products has the potential to change the game for their consumer goods companies....
Energizer Schick Hydro
Schick Hydro (for men's skin)
"This razor will change everything men feel about shaving," says Dan Kinton, Senior Brand Manager for Schick. Granted, he's paid to say things like that, but the Hydro -- which is available in 3- and 5-blade models -- does indeed sport a "flip trimmer," a reservoir with aloe vera- and Vitamin E-infused hydrating llubrication, and protective "skin guards" between the blades. So it's got that going for it.
The Schick Hydro should generate $75 million to $100 million in sales over the next 12 months, according to UBS' Nik Modi. The product launch, incidentally, comes just two months before P&G's Gillette ships out its new Fusion ProGlide shaving products
also featured in this slideshow -- and already analysts seem to feel better about the former's prospects than the latter's.
"It's just a more unique strategy than what P&G's Gillette has been going for," with its three- and five-blade options, MorningStar's Lauren DeSanto explained. "Also, Schick has a lower price offering."
Still, the success of the new Schick launch would probably be of greater importance for Energizer than the success of
new launch for P&G; especially given that the former has fewer business units that it can depend on than the latter.
Case in point, as laid out by Jason Gere of RBC Capital Markets: 30% of Energizer's global sales comes from the wet-shaving, razor-blade category, while a far lesser 7% of P&G's global sales are derived from this category. Alternately, men's shaving systems comprise more than 10% of Energizer's total global sales and 5% of P&G's.
Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief
First launched for in-office use by dental professionals in April 2009, setting the stage for an expected U.S. consumer launch later that year.
Sensitive Pro-Relief is billed as the first toothpaste for sensitive teeth to use "Pro-Argin" technology (the paste includes arginine), which acts like a caulk to seal the tiny holes in the dentin of teeth which, when exposed, leads to tooth sensitivity. (Typical "sensitive teeth" toothpastes uses potassium to numb the pain.) The result, according to Colgate, is "instant and lasting relief for four weeks from pain and discomfort of sensitivity."
Colgate hasn't yet disclosed any expected market impact from the Sensitive Pro-Relief, but according to MorningStar's Lauren DeSanto, "it's being very well-received in Europe."
Argus Research's Erin Ashley Smith approves of the launch, noting that "it's important for
Colgate to keep on top of trends and remain innovative," and "to get people to trade up to premium products."
Still, it's hard to say when the product will be arriving in the U.S., even as it spreads to over 70 markets worldwide by the third quarter, as Colgate is still awaiting FDA approval for Sensitive Pro-Relief. But if and when comes to the U.S., expect it to be well-received here too. As consumers age, their teeth get worse -- and the U.S. is an undeniably aging population. "It would surprise me if it didn't do well," UBS' Nik Modi said.
Granted, competitors like Procter & Gamble and
could always launch a similar product. Then again, the first one in the pool usually gets to swim the most laps.
P&G Gillette Fusion ProGlide
P&G Gillette Fusion ProGlide
UBS's Nik Modi rather succinctly summed up his preview test of the Gillette Fusion ProGlide: "God, it's a good shave."
More specifically, the Fusion ProGlide is a riotous collection of technology -- more high-tech than most coffee-makers -- all ostensibly designed to improve the comfort of a shave (or at least overwhelm the consumer into buying it). Included in the Fusion ProGlide are blade stabilizers, a "snowplow" comfort guard to maintain optimal blade contact, a 25% larger lubricating strip, a "microcomb" to guide the hair to the blade, and a battery-operated system to deliver "soothing micropulses" to the skin, resulting in smoother blade action.
Overall, analysts seem less confident about P&G Gillette's new shaving product and more optimistic about Energizer's new Schick Hydro (featured earlier), which came out in April.
"The Fusion ProGlide is priced even higher than older Fusion," Jason Gere of RBC Capital Markets said. "I think it'll do fine, but I don't think it'll be a huge home run.... I'm still a little bit nervous about how new innovation at higher price points would do at this point of the economic cycle; unemployment's still high."
It's worth noting that the Energizer's Schick Hydro has both three- and five-blade offerings at a lower price point than the Fusion ProGlide.
"For those who haven't traded up yet; they'd likely trade up to something more innovative, but at a lower price point," Gere said, as he compared the competing offerings. Still, given P&G's sheer size, the new Fusion will likely not be that material to the success of overall earnings performance of P&G, he pointed out.
Scotts Miracle-Gro EZ Seed
Currently in the process of launching nationally this year, after a successful regional launch last year.
EZ Seed is noteworthy for surrounding the seed with a fertilizer compound that absorbs water and expands to surround and protect the seed from drying out and dying. The fertilizer from the formula is designed to release over time and feed the seeds over the long-term. EZ Seed claims to help grow grass anywhere -- from dry to sunny, to densely-shaded, and even poor-quality soil areas. "EZ Seed is guaranteed to grow grass even in the hardest places," according to the company.
The national offering of EZ Seed should generate $75 million over the course of a year, according to Morningstar's Zoe Tan. Last year's regional offering generated about $50 million of revenue, but just 3% of sales for Scotts Miracle-Gro, given that it is, after all, the largest player in the lawn and gardening category. "They are in the business of generating innovation and launching new products every year."
Tan expects a successful launch, based on Scotts' history of successful products launches. "They connect with consumers," Tan explained. "Even for the national offering, they're still very local from the marketing perspective." For example, the company is prone to "weather-triggered radio advertising," where it will, for example, push a certain plant product because it would fare in current weather conditions.
"Retailers like them because they tend to help retailers drive traffic," Tan said. Scotts partners with retailers like
Mattel Monster High
Launch Date/Shipping Date:
"Monster High," a new property launch within Mattel's portfolio of brands, is an original storyline that appears almost nakedly designed to be a cash-cow for the company for years to come. The conceit: unite the "hip teenage descendants" of the world's most famous monsters, like Dracula and Frankenstein -- and, apparently, stick them in high school. Universal Pictures has acquired the film rights to
a live-action film that will be developed as a musical by Oscar winners and
producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
A movie-related toy line at Mattel would generate at least $100 million over the course of one year, according to Sterne Agee analyst Margaret Whitfield. "I believe it will be a significant product line for Mattel."
Because of the competitive nature of the market these years, Mattel has been guarded about what it will say or show regarding the line. "It's been under wraps," Whitfield said. A company spokesperson said there should be more information to come in the next few weeks.
-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York
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