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Beauty Beat: Riviera Looks to Drive Sales With Hummer Scent

NEW YORK — Fragrance producer Riviera Concepts Inc. will introduce a Hummer fragrance next week, proof positive that beauty’s fascination with the automobile has never been stronger.<BR><BR>From studying ingredients in automotive paints...

NEW YORK — Fragrance producer Riviera Concepts Inc. will introduce a Hummer fragrance next week, proof positive that beauty’s fascination with the automobile has never been stronger.

From studying ingredients in automotive paints for their color-refracting potential in cosmetics formulations, to the use of heat coatings on packaging, beauty marketers have long surveyed the auto industry for inspiration. The same holds true on the fragrance-branding front. Coty, for instance, launched a Corvette fragrance in 1995 and, within the past year, Italian perfumes and cosmetics manufacturer Morris signed a deal to manufacture and license Ferrari’s fragrance line. This spring, Jaguar licensee Parfums Gres added Jaguar Women to complement several existing Jaguar scents.

Enter Hummer, the less-than-fuel-efficient sport utility vehicle. Notwithstanding Revlon owner Ronald Perelman’s move last week to buy AM General, which manufactures Hummer vehicles, Riviera plans to launch its fragrance, called Hummer Fragrance for Men, at 1,300 U.S. and Canadian department stores.

Industry sources estimate the scent, which is bedecked in signature Hummer yellow, could generate worldwide retail sales volume of $36 million by the end of next year, $26 million of which could be registered in North America alone.

A licensing agent for General Motors, which owns the Hummer brand and markets and distributes the SUVs, approached Riviera — known for its designer fragrance portfolio — with the idea of a Hummer scent. Following a meeting in the Motor City, Riviera president Adrian Ellis said he believed it would be a good way for Riviera to reach men. In fact, he believes the fragrance, which targets 25- to 45-year-olds, could boost the portion of Riviera’s business generated by men’s scents to 35 percent, from about 15 to 20 percent today.

“It’s got credibility with men,” an optimistic Ellis said of the Hummer nameplate in a recent interview. “Everyone seems to know about Hummer,” he added, “the awareness is high. What other brand for men would make more sense?”

The Hummer bottle, a distinct emulation of the boxy truck, was designed by Jerome and Magali Dinand. Givaudan blended the scent, which features olfactory accords of thyme and fir, cardamom and peppercorn and amber and sandalwood.

In addition to growing Riviera’s men’s business, Ellis believes the scent could help build the company’s presence in travel retail, which is limited to shops on the border between the U.S. and Canada. Ellis contended there’s awareness of the Hummer brand in European markets, something he feels could help it appeal to business travelers and aid the scent’s eventual entry into retail doors in those markets.

Hummer, an eau de toilette, will come in three sizes: 4.2 oz., 2.5 oz. and 1.3 oz., which will retail for $52, $40 and $24, respectively. Hummer aftershave, body wash and deodorant will accompany the scent, which will be launched at retail chains including Dillard’s, Macy’s, Carson Pirie Scott and Sephora in the U.S. and The Bay and Sears in Canada. Ellis has planned some 45 million hits — including 17 million scented impressions — to promote the scent, an effort that will include visuals in retailer catalogues, direct-mail pieces and store events.

— Matthew W. Evans