PARIS -- For its first major fragrance launch in seven years, the Cacharel division of L'Oreal has gone back to the beginning -- all the way to Genesis.
Called Eden and billed in ads as the "forbidden fragrance," Cacharel's new women's scent will make its debut in 10,000 doors in Europe and the Mideast April 15.
In the U.S., however, Eden will not bow until at least 1995, according to executives at Cosmair Inc., the U.S. licensee of L'Oreal. The European Designer Fragrances Division is planning the launch of another fragrance for 1994, said a Cosmair spokeswoman in New York, and a decision on Eden will not be made until the following year. She declined to elaborate.
"In fine fragrances, we have two big launches this year," said Georges Klarsfeld, international managing director of L'Oreal's prestige unit. "In Europe, this is the big push, and in the U.S., it will be Ralph Lauren Polo Sport." Klarsfeld said he expects Eden to hit $40 million in sales in Europe and the Mideast this year.
"We consider that the threshold for success is $60 million once the scent is rolled out worldwide," Klarsfeld said.
He declined to specify how much L'Oreal will spend to support the launch, but sources estimated an advertising and promotional budget equaling 60 percent of sales -- $25 million -- including TV. "I can't imagine not doing TV, given the prices and target of Cacharel," Klarsfeld said.
Eden, which is available in eau de parfum only, is aimed at the same 18-to-35-year-old audience as Anais Anais and Loulou, previous Cacharel women's scents. Like those fragrances, Eden is priced below the most expensive brands. At $36 for a 50-ml. eau de parfum pour, Eden is priced well below Chanel No. 5, which sells for $53.
For the TV spot, which features actors posing as Adam and Eve in a surreal, jungle-like Eden, Cacharel tapped Spaniard Javier Vallhonrat as photographer and director.
Although Eve will be shown bare-breasted in the European version of the commercial, Klarsfeld said, the film will be edited for the U.S."We're aware of the restrictions in the U.S., but we couldn't show Adam and Eve with clothes on in the garden," insisted Annette Louit, international director of Cacharel.
Although the sales objectives, advertising budget, price points and even the product's marbleized opaline bottle are similar to those for Anais Anais and Loulou, Eden differs in several respects:
It tries to broaden the target audience of the Cacharel brand.
It should confirm Cacharel's place among L'Oreal's prestige leaders worldwide.
With global sales of $203 million in 1993, Cacharel is neck and neck with L'Oreal's Ralph Lauren brand, and only Lancome, with annual sales of about $1 billion, does a bigger business.
L'Oreal executives point to Cacharel's volume with pride because the brand was created from scratch, unlike most of the firm's successful designer businesses, which were acquired.
Anais, which was launched in 1978, represents half of Cacharel's worldwide sales. In Europe, the women's scent ranked number three in 1992, according to sources.
Furthermore, as a global fragrance and cosmetics brand, Cacharel has fared better than the French apparel licensor of the same name. Founded in 1963 by Jean Bousquet, Cacharel saw its ready-to-wear sales drop by 20 percent in 1993 to $92 million (540 million francs).
Throughout the industry, Louit is widely credited for having engineered the success of the business. Her 16-year tenure at Cacharel -- she's overseen product development and marketing since the launch of Anais -- is unusual at a company where marketers are frequently rotated among divisions.
So is the level of recognition she's achieved in the industry, despite a corporate culture at L'Oreal that emphasizes the accomplishments of teams over individuals. But Louit admits there have been mistakes along the way.
Take, for example, the marketing concept of Loulou, which was launched in 1987. Loulou was characterized as a female between adolescence and womanhood, but her image was so European, it eluded the American audience, she said.
"We quickly realized that such a person did not exist over there," Louit said. "[In the U.S.], one passes immediately from being a teenager to being a businesswoman."Anais does slightly more than $15 million in the U.S., according to industry estimates, but Loulou is no longer on the market.
At the time Loulou was launched, said Klarsfeld, L'Oreal was not as concerned as it is now with making sure products are successful in every market.
"Today," he said, "we try to look at a launch from every culture's perspective."
Eden is a better bet for wide acceptance, executives said.
"It's a universal word," Louit said. "In tests in Europe, both the Greeks and the Germans claimed that the word Eden was from their own language."
The recent problems of Parfums Yves Saint Laurent -- which recently was barred from using the name of its newest fragrance, Champagne, in France -- have put the industry on guard about trademarks, but both Louit and Klarsfeld insisted they anticipated no complaints from religious groups about Eden.
Without identifying the source, Cacharel said it purchased the name from a rival cosmetics company. It has never been used for a fragrance, the company said.
Cacharel is also looking for Eden to widen the possibilities for product development. The inclusion of Adam in the TV spot introduces a male into Cacharel's female-dominated image.
Louit noted that Anais and Loulou were both developed around distinct female types.
"We were barring ourselves from the men's market, and we would like to eventually expand in that category," she said.
Of course, Eden is designed to update the Cacharel image, as well. The jungle setting in the advertising, the floral design on the outer packaging and the jade green bottle are meant to evoke the current concern with environmentalism.
EDEN AT A GLANCE
LAUNCH SCHEDULE: Europe and Mideast on April 15 in 10,000 doors; U.S. launch no earlier than 1995.
THE LINE: Five eau de parfum items - 100-ml. pour and spray, each at $52 (305 francs at current exchange rates); a 50-ml. spray for $37 (220 francs); a 50-ml. pour for $36 (210 francs), and 30-ml. spray, available in selective markets, for $26.CHARACTERISTICS: An oriental floral aquatic created by Jean Guichard of Givaudan Roure in a green opaline glass bottle designed by Annegret Beier and manufactured by Saint Gobain.
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