By  on March 25, 1994

NEW YORK -- Ralph Lauren's newest men's fragrance, Polo Sport, was introduced a month ago amid snowstorms. It is now blossoming with the possibility of launch records.

Although executives dec-lined to share the sales figures, sources indicate that Cosmair Inc., Lauren's fragrance licensee, which reportedly first projected less than $35 million for Polo Sport this year, has raised that to $40 million.

That would set a volume mark for Lauren's fragrances by edging out the previous leader, Safari for Men, which reportedly chalked up $38 million at wholesale in the 12 months following its September 1992 introduction.

That, in turn, had eclipsed Lauren's Safari for women, which generated an estimated $25 million following its February 1990 launch.

Volume for Polo Sport is being stoked by a strong TV and print ad campaign, estimated by industry sources at more than $20 million, including contributions from retailers.

"This is a major effort," said Jack Wiswall, senior vice president and general manager of the Ralph Lauren Fragrances Division. "It is the biggest in support and the biggest in results."

Nearly as dramatic are the initial reports of strong sales of the line's treatment items -- what Cosmair calls "skin fitness" products. These items, dubbed "Water Basics," include a $12.50 Face and Body Cream moisturizer, a spray hair gel for $12.50 and a $10 weatherproof lip balm.

Those items had raised eyebrows in an industry that has known mostly frustration from past efforts to sell skin care to men.

Wiswall said the ancillary products accounted for 39 percent of unit sales, roughly doubling original expectations.

Mary Hayes, vice president of sales, pointed out that Cosmair had little competition because men's fragrances usually are not introduced this early.

"This gave us the opportunity to own the store," Wiswall added.

"Polo Sport is off to a colossal start," said Allen Burke, divisional merchandise manager of Dayton's, Hudson's and Marshall Field's.

"We made our March plan in the first three weeks and there are five weeks in the month. We couldn't be more pleased with the results. They could be number one for the year."

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