Tesco May Bet Big on Beauty Drinks Though Running Skin Deep Is a Risk

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With a remark by an executive at a contest for UK entrepreneurs last week, Tesco has indicated interest in entering the growing “beauty beverage” market in Europe.

But as a segment that long has seemed heavy on promise but sometimes disappointing in actual sales (and results), beauty drinks have ensnared other major brands including Nestle, Coca-Cola and Sanofi over the last several years—with evidently less-than-spectacular results.

The idea of this genre is to create formulas that actually improve skin, hair and other aspects of appearance in specific ways that go beyond the general health-inducing properties of the thousands of “functional” drinks that are on the market globally.[more]

And in that regard, the enthusiasm of David Beardmore, who leads the soft-drinks and juices buying team for Tesco, the UK’s largest grocer, was captured by a startup called Bella Berry when he recently was on a judging panel for an entrepreneurs’ competition, according to Beverage Daily.  

Created by Suzannah Baker, a former advertising executive who’s worked on beauty brands, Bella Berry drinks use up to 24 percent juice from superfruits and contain a bunch of vitamins plus collagen and green tea. They aren’t yet on sale and won’t be able to carry any kind of health claim approved by European food authorities.

An executive of European beverage consulting firm MyDrink Beverages noted that beauty drinks are a hot trend on the continent, many of them containing green tea with a substance known as EGCG, which also has some benefits in energy drinks.

But Beardmore expressed interest in a growing genre that, in Europe, also includes Pure Gold Collagen that is now sold in Boots drug stores in shot form. “I think drinks can go into beauty very easily,” Beardmore said, according to Beverage Daily. “We can find new space in the current aisle, especially where the health and wellness is.”

That may be the case at Tesco, which has added more and more functional foods and beverages to its aisles. But converting women’s desire for “inner beauty” into consumer confidence in various new elixirs hasn’t been an easy proposition for some major CPG brands already.

Nestle, for example, several years ago introduced such a drink called Glowelle with much fanfare, even going so far as initially distributing it only in Neiman-Marcus department stores. But it flopped and then came back as a water additive.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola and L’Oreal initially were rumored to be teaming up to produce a beauty drink called Lumae. But what actually happened was that, in 2012, Coke and Sanofi, the French drug company, teamed up with the intention of launching a beauty beverage called Beautific Oenobiol made by a Sanofi-owned supplement company. The line initially went into limited launch in France.

Will Tesco end up producing a better-looking entry in the beauty drinks pageant than these other experienced brands? Beardmore seems to believe so.

• Connect with Dale on Twitter: @daledbuss

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