By  on April 8, 1994

NEW YORK -- Coty Inc. is not about to be caught napping.

The company, which has had a string of mass market hits, plans to launch two more women's fragrances this fall. One, called Vanilla Musk, is a sequel to Vanilla Fields, last year's sleeper whose success caught even Coty executives by surprise.

The other, Longing, represents the company's most concerted attempt yet to compete with prestige scents diverted into the mass market.

Jerry Abernathy, president of Coty, projected that Vanilla Musk, which will make its debut in September, will have a wholesale volume of $12.5 million in the first year.

The company will support the launch with $3.5 million in print advertising during its fourth quarter, which begins in August, and extensive sampling, Abernathy said. Sampling will include seven million scented strips and about one million in-store towelettes and scented cards.

Longing, set to bow in October, is an attempt to replicate the prestige fragrance experience at the mass market level.

"We are not just competing with traditional mass fragrances anymore," Abernathy said. "So we have been gradually upgrading the quality of our packaging and imagery for the last several years."

The line will be priced slightly higher than any of Coty's existing price points. Prices will range from $14 for a 0.5-oz. cologne spray to $23 for a 1.7-oz. cologne spray.

Le Fleur, Coty's most expensive fragrance until now, tops off at $22.50.

Abernathy projected that Longing would have a first-year wholesale volume of roughly $15 million.

Coty is planning to invest $5.5 million in print and TV advertising to support the new scent during the fourth quarter of this year, Abernathy said. Sampling will include 1.25 million carded vials and scented cards in-store, as well as seven million scent strips in magazines.

To create product awareness of Vanilla Musk prior to its launch, a 0.35-oz. cologne spray will go on counter in August, with a price tag of $4.50. The full line of three items will hit stores Sept. 1. They are a 0.375-oz. perfume oil for $10, a 1-oz. cologne spray for $12 and a 1.7-oz. cologne spray for $17.There will also be a Christmas gift set with a 1-oz. cologne spray and a 0.35-oz. perfume spray for $12.50.

The new musk scent will target vanilla aficionados and musk fans in the 18-to-29 age group, according to company executives.

"We think it should appeal to both groups," said Mary Manning, vice president of market development for Coty. "It's a sensual take on vanilla and a new interpretation of musk."

Abernathy added, "We think Vanilla Musk is essentially a pre-sold concept. The success of Vanilla Fields showed us that people like vanilla."

"Vanilla Musk looks really good," said Sheri Ralston, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for PayLess Drug Stores of Wilsonville, Ore. "The ad campaign is fabulous. We are planning for it to be as big a success for us as Vanilla Fields."

"Coty always does a good job," added Carol Allman, director of merchandising for the Jack Eckerd Corp. of Largo, Fla. "They understand the market better than anyone out there. They should do just fine with both of their new fragrances."

The confidence in Vanilla Musk expressed by Coty and the retail community stems from last year's unexpected success with Vanilla Fields. Originally, company executives had predicted that Vanilla Fields, which was launched in September 1993, would be a niche line, with a wholesale volume of less than $10 million.

As it turned out, the brand did more than double that in the first year, Abernathy said. He said Vanilla Fields will have a wholesale volume of $30 million this year.

Vanilla Musk, which was created by Quest International, has a vanilla top note that dries down to warm and sensual base notes with an emphasis on musk. The teardrop-shaped glass bottle is packed in an embossed white carton with gold lettering.

It will have a dual positioning. The word "vanilla" is meant to evoke innocence, romance and nature, while "musk" has connotations of sensuality, passion and mystery.

"Our goal with Vanilla Musk was to bring something new to the party so we wouldn't cannibalize Vanilla Fields," Manning said. Although Coty is concentrating on the launch of Vanilla Musk, it is not turning its back on Vanilla Fields. This year, Coty has more than doubled its advertising budget behind the brand to $7 million. A TV campaign will break in May. Last year, the brand was backed with print ads only.The new fragrance will fall under Coty's Quintessence sales force, which was formed in January when Joh. A. Benckiser GmbH folded its Quintessence acquisition into its Coty subsidiary. Vanilla Fields is sold by the Coty sales force.

Longing, which will be sold by the Coty sales force, will have a romantic image with prestige positioning. The fragrance will hit stores in September with a 0.25-oz. sample size with a suggested retail price of $5.95. The full five-item line will follow on Oct. 1 and include a 1-oz. cologne pour for $15, a 1-oz. cologne spray for $18 and a 3.7-oz. body powder for $8.

There will also be two Christmas gift sets. The first contains a 0.5-oz cologne spray and a 0.25-oz. eau de parfum spray. A 1-oz. cologne spray and a 3.7-oz. body powder comprises the second set. Each gift has a suggested retail price of $17.50.

While the juice has not yet been set, Manning said it will be a romantic floral.

"Longing is all about romance, but we are trying to contemporize it. It is unlike anything we have in our stable," she added. "We think it fits in with the trend of America's return to traditional values -- the idea of a committed relationship between one man and one woman."

The bottle is European custom glass with an asymmetrical frosted cap. It is packed in an opalescent white box with gold accents.

"I think Longing is gorgeous," said Payless's Ralston. "The packaging is so elegant and upscale. It's really feminine."

"Longing looks like it is going to be really good," agreed Judy Wray, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for Revco D.S. of Twinsburg, Ohio. "It has the right packaging and the right direction, and the juice they've showed me so far is really good. It will also be well supported."

Coty is targeting women from 18 through 34 with a concentration on the 18-to-29 segment, Manning said, adding, "Our research tells us that women in this age group are heavy users of prestige fragrance and are very interested in the idea of romance."

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