Danone was unavailable for comment at the time of publication but the French food giant was quoted in the UK Financial Times, citing the impact of the burgeoning economic recession as a major factor in its decision that will take effect from March 1.
The ‘dermo-nutrition’ product remains on market in Spain, Belgium and Italy. A spokesperson for Danone in the UK said a trial occurred in the region of East Anglia in 2007 but had been quickly discontinued.
“Our focus will be on our blockbuster products,” Danone said while acknowledging consumers were less willing to shell out for premium products in tight economic times.
Danone launched Essensis to much fanfare in February 2007, but a promising start that saw sales quickly broach €40m was quickly followed by plummeting sales as consumers failed to connect with the product’s functional promise nor its premium pricing.
Danone does not reveal sales figures but it is clear the product never reached the initial €100m forecasts made for it. According to some industry sources, sales never exceeded €50m.
New Nutirition Business magazine speculated that its supermarket positioning may not have been right for a beauty brand.
“That’s not a place where a brand can acquire any cachet or mystique,” the magazine wrote in October last year. “Moreover, it’s easy for consumers to see that it’s a brand that’s at quite a premium to regular yoghurts.”
It contrasted that with Nestle’s Glowelle (another beauty drink) strategy of pharmacy distribution.
Essensis, whose core audience was predominantly young women, promised better skin health via a proprietary blend called ProNutris that contained vitamin E, green tea-derived antioxidants, probiotics and borage oil.
For the skin benefits to be fully achieved, Danone recommended daily consumption of the yoghurt, and this fact, coupled with a premium that failed to excite a majority of consumers, added to its woes despite its claim that it could “nourish your skin from within”.
When sales began to decline Danone added new flavours and formulations, but volumes, in France at least, continued to flatline.
Danone’s other functional yoghurts such as Activia and Actimel – have performed much better in many international markets but sell at a lower premium and offer health benefits that have broader appeal – digestive health and immunity.