By  on January 19, 2005

NEW YORK — Giorgio Armani is moving to strengthen his dominant grip on the men’s market with a new fragrance, Black Code, which is designed to seduce new customers who are not turned on by his number one-selling Acqua di Gio for Men.

Armani’s beauty licensee, L’Oréal USA, is taking a bit of a departure on this men’s fragrance, its seventh under the Armani banner. The new scent is a fresh, seductive Oriental.

“It’s a new territory for us,” said Chris Payne, director of marketing of Giorgio Armani Parfums. “It’s a fresh, woody Oriental — it allows us to recruit a new user.” Payne noted that Armani’s other men’s fragrances feature no Oriental notes — Acqua di Gio includes marine notes, while Mania for Men is more of a crisp scent.

Developed by Givaudan, the fragrance features top notes of citrus, lemon and bergamot; middle notes of olive flower and aniseed, and base notes of tonka bean and guaiacum wood. Jack Wiswall, president of the Designer Fragrances Division of L’Oréal USA, is hoping Black Code’s sensual qualities will attract an untapped portion of the men’s market. “It allows us to appeal to the other side of the equation, the customer who maybe isn’t buying Acqua di Gio,” he said. “It’s a commercial fragrance, it’s not controversial.”

Payne said the age target is 18 to 49, with a special focus on 25 to 35.

While the fragrance launched in Europe this past fall, it will hit all of Armani’s 2,000 U.S. doors in March. Although L’Oréal does not break out sales projections or advertising budgets, industry sources estimate that Black Code could bring in up to $28 million to $30 million in first-year retail sales, with $8 million to $10 million spent on advertising and promotion. By comparison, Acqua did an estimated $75 million last year. That figure represents a 7 to 8 percent growth for 2004 after eight years on the market.

Price points will range from $35 for a 30-ml. bottle to $60 for a 75-ml. bottle and will be supported by print advertising and dissemination of scent impressions, including over 50 million scented strips and blow-ins. TV ads, which were developed for the European launch, have not been scheduled for the U.S. market but are being considered.

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