March 04, NY Times

ABOUT a year ago, when Jamie Leventhal was trying to convince big chain stores to stock his new line of shaving gels for young men, a buyer for Target asked a crucial question: How much would he spend on advertising?

“I told him we would not spend a single dollar,” Mr. Leventhal said.

The buyer was stunned until Mr. Leventhal pulled a prototype out of his briefcase. The product, called NXT, is sold in an arresting triangular container that lights up from the bottom, illuminating air bubbles suspended in the clear gel. The plastic is tinted blue, and when the AAA batteries in its base are lighted, the whole thing looks like a miniature lava lamp or a tiny fishless aquarium.

The novelty of the light-up container worked, and NXT’s shaving gel — as well as its after-shave and face wash, similarly packaged — will hit the shelves at Target this month. It will also arrive at other retailers like Wal-Mart, CVS, Duane Reade, Winn-Dixie and Fred Meyer.

To call attention to themselves, the products, which are aimed at 18- to 24-year-old men, will glow on the shelves, inviting customers to pick them up. Every 15 seconds, a light-emitting diode (LED) in the bottom of the container flares on, stays lighted for a few seconds, then fades out.

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photo: Containers of NXT’s men’s products have light-emitting diodes (NY Times)