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Brand extension is a significant part of the growth strategy for Lilly Pulitzer as it begins its second half-century.
This story first appeared in the December 1, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Pulitzer offers a wide array of accessories, from shoes and boots to all sizes and shapes of handbags, totes and wallets, scarves and some home products like pillows and holiday ornaments. These, however, are all produced in-house.
“We have a great design team internally who really understands our consumer and her needs, so we feel completely comfortable keeping certain categories, which are usually licensed out, in-house. By designing for these categories in-house, we are able to be consistent with our resort chic brand image,” said James Bradbeer Jr., president of Lilly Pulitzer.
The brand’s licensing program is an intimate group: Sleepwear with Carole Hochman, eyewear with Kenmark and the two latest, custom stationery and gifts with Lifeguard Press and fragrances with PulsePoints LLC.
In September, Pulitzer licensed Lifeguard for invitations and stationery, party goods and gifts, from wrapping paper and bags to partyware, cocktail napkins and drink umbrellas, offi ce accessories like desk sets, diaries, notebooks, frames and calendars, among others.
“We’re introducing an entirely new category for our consumer…[and] telling her we understand her lifestyle needs,” said Bradbeer.
Todd Ferrier, founder and ceo of Lifeguard, added, “We believe this line expresses Lilly Pulitzer’s innate sense of style and fun.”
Pulitzer leapt into the fragrance business just this fall with a trio of scents — and the company is juicing the market for all it’s worth.
Dubbed Beachy, Squeeze and Wink, the fragrances began rolling into about 800 department and specialty stores in the U.S., including Bloomingdale’s and Lilly Pulitzer Via Shops, in early November and will be in about 1,200 doors, including selected Macy’s, by this spring.
Certainly it’s not business as usual to launch three scents at once — particularly when the company has never even done one — but that’s fine with Bradbeer.
“This launch is very specifically not like everyone else’s,” Bradbeer said. “We’re not in the basics business — patterns and bright colors are part of our DNA. Over the years, we’ve met a lot of people who think they know Lilly as a brand, that come to us saying, ‘This type of fragrance is trendy now, this is what will sell.’ But Alison Farn understood the brand, and like us, had a clear vision of what could fill a gap in the market.”
Farn is president of PulsePoints LLC, which makes the scents, and a longtime Lilly Lover. “This brand is so much about Lilly herself,” said Farn. “She was never doing it as a commercial enterprise, and this business is not as commercially driven as others. This company has a real spirit and it is true to its roots. This wasn’t about Lilly or us going out and looking for a license. It just became the right time to do fragrances.
“Lilly makes people smile — especially in a tough economy — and we think we’ve captured that in a bottle,” Farn continued. “We see this as a very long-term and healthy relationship between PulsePoints and Lilly Pulitzer. Signature fragrances are just the beginning.”
The scents are named for iconic Pulitzer moments. Wink is a flirty floral named for one of Pulitzer’s favorite sayings — “Wear pink and make the boys wink.” Squeeze, a reference to the juice stands at which Pulitzer began selling her first shifts to friends like Jackie Kennedy, is a citrus scent. And Beachy, inspired by Pulitzer’s Palm Beach, Fla., residence, is intended to be reminiscent of the beach. Wink has top notes of pear nectar, pink freesia and lush gardens; a heart of rose bouquet, white lily and violet fields, and a drydown of amber crystals and sensual musk. Squeeze’s top notes are of exotic lychee, pink grapefruit and red currant; its heart is of lotus blossom and wild rose petals, and its drydown is of sun-drenched woods and water musk. Beachy opens with sliced watermelon, sunny citrus and marine air accord; has a heart of jasmine blossom, tiare flower and lush frangipani, and a drydown of salt crystals, golden amber and sweet vanilla. Wink was concocted by Cecile Krakower, Squeeze by Mathilde Bijaoul and Beachy by Karine Dubreil.
Each scent has eaux de parfum in two sizes, 1.7 oz. for $48 and 3.4 oz. for $68; a body lotion, $38, and a candle, $34. Packaging is signature Lilly: for the line’s debut, Janie Schoenborn, design director for print and pattern, brand presentation, and accessories and footwear for Lilly Pulitzer, created six patterns in signature colors The bottles themselves were inspired by architecture on Palm Beach’s Via Mizner, the site of Pulitzer’s original juice stand, said Theresa Plavoukos, vice president of marketing for PulsePoints.
In store, Pulitzer-clad salespeople sample the scents via scented ribbons and vials on cards, said Farn. At counter, the brand serves juice — a play on the industry jargon for scent, and also a key reference to Lilly Pulitzer’s juice-stand roots.
Industry sources estimated that the collection could do at least $5 million at retail in its first year on counter. While it’s still early, Farn noted that the three scents seem to be selling equally.
Lilly Pulitzer manufactures cosmetics bags — a business which the company entered in late 2006 — and Bradbeer has said that he has his eye on other categories. “We have additional [beauty] categories on our long-term list,” he said in August, “but for now, we’re going to concentrate on our fragrances and making that business as strong as it can be.” Such additions would be at least 12 to 24 months out, he said.
Farn agreed. “We want this business to be healthy 10 years from now,” she added. “It’s not about coming out with another flanker next year. We’ve entered the category with a strong statement, and we plan for these scents to be classics.”