NEW YORK -- Ancillary products were at one time simply lower-priced versions of the traditional fragrance form, providing an easy entry point for reluctant consumers.
But recently, manufacturers have set out to make layering more luxurious, by formulating fragrance extensions that are more than just an afterthought.
Whether through items with therapeutic qualities, exotic ingredients or by using new formats altogether, fragrance firms are starting to offer products with a purpose -- items that not only smell nice but actually do something.
It is through these more exotic ancillaries that prestige houses are looking to cash in on the $1 billion bath and body boom that has been sweeping through all retail channels.
At the moment, according to industry estimates, department stores own about 20 percent of the category, which translates to a volume of $230 million.
"Prestige manufacturers have found that the best way for them to compete with the bath and body world is to stick with what they do best," said John Turcotte, vice president and general manager of Elizabeth Arden Spa. "Instead of venturing into new businesses, they are expanding traditional fragrance boundaries."
"Manufacturers are realizing that with a successful fragrance they have a commodity that works across many different forms, and they are now capitalizing on that," said Ann Gottlieb, fragrance consultant.
Gottlieb, however, offered a caveat for bath and body wannabes.
"Certain fragrances are much better suited than others to the bathroom," she said. "Anything with a bright fruity floral top note will really explode when in it hits the water. Heavier fragrances don't lend themselves as well."
She cited Calvin Klein's Escape, with its fruity perfume, as an example of a scent that translates well into bath products. Items in the brand's bath line have the added treatment benefits of sea botanicals, emollients, proteins, vitamins and minerals.
The L'Eau d'Issey Pure Beauty Line, from designer Issey Miyake, is another fresh scent that can cross boundaries. Products from the four-item line contain extracts of algae, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fatty acid to moisturize and treat the skin.
Efforts to pay closer attention to the bath, like those made by Klein and Miyake, seem thus far to be paying off.According to industry tradition, fragranced ancillary products have usually represented about 8 to 10 percent of a fragrance's overall business. But some of the more recent, more sophisticated versions seem to be generating more than 15 percent of business, or even about half, in the case of the Donna Karan New York Bath and Body collection.
"People are pampering themselves more and are more likely now to set aside time to take care of themselves," said Laurie Palma, vice president of marketing for Chanel's fragrances. "This trend has prompted the fragrance market to offer products that don't just smell good, but offer some sort of treatment benefit that will help to increase usage."
Palma noted that this month Chanel is adding to its Cristalle bath line a dry oil spray that contains Vitamin E, chamomile and aloe. According to the company, the ingredients both soothe and moisturize skin while giving it the scent of Cristalle.
"I don't think people paid much attention to formulas [in the past]," said David Nugent, president and chief executive officer of Riviera Concepts. "But there's no stronger incentive to get into a category than the man on the corner taking business away from you."
Riviera's Nicole Miller Bath Silk Collection is named for the fabric which the designer works with the most. Its point of difference: The Powdered Silk talcum powder actually contains bonafide powdered silk.
Nugent predicted that the five-item Bath Silk line, launched last month, will account for over 20 percent of Nicole Miller fragrance sales.
Prices for the line range from $20 for two Silkening Body Soaps to $48 for a 7-oz. jar of Silkening Body Cream.
"We originally said the line would generate 15 percent of the fragrance's sales," Nugent said, "but it is currently over 20. I think that after such a long and hard winter, people were looking for something that would make them smile."
One of the first prestige fragrance manufacturers to recognize the allure of the bath was Aramis, with its New West line. The items made their debut in the late Eighties.
The collection contains seven unisex body items, including Pacific Coastal Bodywash shower and bath gel, Seafoam Energizing Bath Crystals and Glacial Gel, a blue transparent gel that was created to cool and soothe while moisturizing the skin after shaving.The line also has four types of soap, each with a different function. Volcanic Ash Buffing Bar, for example, is an exfoliator.
"We gave [New West] an outdoorsy and healthy positioning, which is only enhanced by the ancillary products," said Pamela Baxter, vice president of marketing for Aramis.
"Lifestyle" was also one of the motivating forces behind the Tribu Rituals of Bathing Collection from Benetton Cosmetics. The line was launched last year along with the Tribu fragrance.
"The theme of the United Colors of Benetton for the last 25 years has been a multicultural one, since we are sold in 100 countries," said Ken Landis, president of Benetton Cosmetics. "We wanted to make a broad statement that would have global appeal, so we decided to use ingredients and product types from all the world.
"Our goal was to introduce serious bathing products that happen to be fragranced," he concluded.
The soap, for example, was inspired by the bathing rituals of Japan and the skin treatments at spas in Europe. It contains ingredients such as yarrow, arnica and calendula that have been used for centuries from Tokyo to Baden Baden.
The soap also comes with a pumice soap dish, which customers can use to exfoliate while they cleanse.
"If you just launch ancillary products as a matter of form six months after a fragrance launch, there is nothing much to talk about at counter, except the layering story," Landis said, noting that Bathing Rituals currently represents 20 percent to 25 percent of Tribu's business.
Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers Bath and Body Collection, which bowed last month, leans more toward a traditional layering story, but with an aromatherapy slant.
"We had two objectives when we launched the bath line," said Laura Bohnenberg, marketing manager for Sunflowers. "The first was to continue the momentum of last year's fragrance launch, and the second was to continue to broaden consumer awareness through offering a broad selection of products with moderate price points."
Last year the company launched a body lotion and a shower gel along with the fragrance, and last month the rest of the collection hit store shelves.While even the most luxurious fragrance extensions still promote a layering story, The Donna Karan Beauty Co. decided to plunge into serious body care with it s ancillaries.
Last September the company launched the five-item Donna Karan New York Bath & Body collection, a line that was not primarily created to perfume the skin. In fact, the line is not even imbued with the same scent as the Donna Karan New York fragrance.
Instead, each product is scented with a light, fresh and clean fragrance that was designed to complement Donna Karan or any other fragrance, or to be worn alone. "[Karan] believes that fragrance is a personal experience and that many women don't use ancillaries because they aren't usually all that effective or even smell all that much like the fragrance," said Jane Terker, the company's president.
"We wanted a bath collection that would not depend on a fragrance for its reason for being," Terker added. "We're finding that it is actually turning into a new way of getting people into the fragrance, which is the reverse of most fragrance businesses."
The six-month-old line has been generating between 40 and 50 percent of the company's fragrance sales. Buoyed by the inordinate amount of sales with its treatment-oriented bath and body products, the fragrance firm is now planning to step all the way into a new category: A Donna Karan skin care line will be launched in June.
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