NEW YORK -- The mass fragrance market, dry as a desert last year, is finally getting some rain.
While an unusually small number of scents were launched in 1993, new entries have already been introduced or are on the way this year from established companies such as L'Oreal, Revlon and Lady in Red. And Coty, one of the few manufacturers credited with consistently introducing quality products, has two more women's scents in store.
Newness is also coming from unexpected sources: Both Bonjour and Sasson are hoping to extend their fashion images into the mass fragrance market.
Besides the lengthy list of new items, many companies, including Coty, Richard Barrie Fragrances, Naturistics and Parfums de Coeur are putting extra support behind existing brands by increasing advertising budgets or adding stockkeeping units such as body sprays.
But while the fragrance drought seems to have ended, many caution that the new additions are just a drop in the bucket.
"In comparison to last year, there are a lot more fragrances coming into the market. But I still don't think there are as many as there should be," said John Wendt, senior vice president and general manager of L'Oreal's cosmetics and fragrance division.
This year's launch activities include:
Ajee from Revlon, which was introduced in January. The modern floriental scent, which has an image inspired by the exotic regions of Africa, is sold in three cologne sprays: A 0.4-oz for $11.50, a 0.9-oz. for $15 and a 1.8-oz. for $20.
Revlon's second entry of this year, Fire & Ice, is due in September. The fragrance is drawing on the name of Revlon's best-known shade of red lip color and nail enamel.
Coty is planning to launch two new women's scents in time for the Christmas selling season. Jerry Abernathy, the company's president and chief executive officer, declined to elaborate.
In the fall, Sasson Licensing Corp., the holding company for the Sasson label, will launch the Oo-La-La women's scent into 7,000 doors of mass merchandisers and discounters such as Kmart, Target, Caldor and Sears.
Prices will be kept in the $15 to $17 range, according to Stephen Wayne, exclusive licensing agent and chief operating officer for Sasson Licensing Corp. A men's version is in the works for next year, he said.
Bonjour Eau de Parfum is expected to reach several thousand better drugstores and mass merchandisers in time for Mother's Day. The fragrance will be launched with three items: A 1-oz. bottle for $13.50, a 1.7-oz. for $17.50 and a 3.4-oz. for $27.50.
Beautiful Lady, the third women's fragrance to come from Lady in Red Cosmetics and Fragrances Ltd., will hit 42,000 doors by April 1. The scent will be available in three forms: A 1.7-oz. eau de parfum spray for $9.95, a 0.5-oz. version spray for $5.50 and a 3-oz. body spray for $3.50.
After a 10-year hiatus from the fragrance market, in early May L'Oreal will launch V, the third fragrance to fall under the Gloria Vanderbilt umbrella. The five-item line ranges in price from $14 for a 0.5-oz. eau de toilette spray to $37 for a 3.4-oz. size.
Navy White, a new cream version of Procter & Gamble's successful Navy, will be launched in the second quarter.
While the marketplace will be much more action-packed this year, manufacturers agreed that intensified promotional support and continued attention to quality are also vital components in competing with diverted prestige scents.
"The economy is a bit better, and consumers seem to be spending more," said Wendt of L'Oreal. "Manufacturers are also seeing an opportunity to bring the quality of the market up.
"The mass end of the fragrance industry really needs to establish an image of quality and of indulgence," he continued. "It's tough to buy a fragrance for $3 or $4 in generic packaging in an open-sell environment and get a sense that you are getting something luxurious."
For V, L'Oreal has turned to the prestige fragrance market for its inspiration, Wendt said. The bottle is a sleek vase shape with a V insignia on the cap. Its
outer packaging, created to stand out on drugstore shelves, is a vivid pink with pale green accents.
The fragrance will be supported with $7 million to $8 million worth of print and television advertising, which will break before Mother's Day and run for three weeks. The ads will run again from Thanksgiving through Christmas.L'Oreal will also sample V with three million carded vials in-store and 14 million scent seals in its advertisements, Wendt said. He noted that with L'Oreal back in the fragrance saddle with V, it is not planning on abandoning it again.
"We are now pleased with the momentum behind our cosmetics business and PlÄnitude [skin care], so we are planning to look into other meaningful fragrance launches during the next three to four years," Wendt said, noting that L'Oreal is exploring the possibilities of working with other licenses. "We hope to have something new out as early as 1995."
Coty, which has consistently launched at least two fragrances a year for the past several years, is planning to continue the momentum through its new launches as well as beefed-up support of its existing brands.
"Because of all the inactivity in the mass market in the last few years, consumers are going to need more than a few product introductions to convince them that they can find image, quality and value in mass fragrances," said Abernathy.
Vanilla Fields, the unexpected success that salvaged many a retailer's Christmas last year, was launched with a mere $2.9 million in advertising support.
This year, the budget has been more than doubled to $7 million, with a television campaign expected to break for Mother's Day, Abernathy said. He noted that he expects the brand to have a wholesale volume of $30 million.
Coty will also pump up the advertising volume behind some of the Quintessence scents, which the company absorbed Jan. 1. The Jovan Musks, the Aspens and the White Musks will be supported with a total budget of $20 million in advertising this year, a 300 percent increase from 1993, when Quintessence spent $5 million on those brands, according to Abernathy.
He projected that the increased advertising budgets would boost combined sales of the Jovan Musk brands by 17 to 18 percent to push wholesale volume to $40 million. The Aspen scents are expected to show increases of up to 18 percent to $30 million wholesale, and White Musk should increase 5 percent to 18.5 million.
Bonjour will back its Eau de Parfum with $3 million to $4 million in advertising. Print ads will break in April along with national TV spots that will run in May and June and again in August and September, according to Ross Klein, Bonjour's vice president of marketing.The company hopes to recreate the excitement of a department store launch at the mass level through sampling and in-store promotion.
"There is a dire need for an upscale type of fragrance in that market," Klein said. "So often mass market fragrances are just thrown in the store without any kind of drama or excitement."
In-store hoopla will include banners, flowers and counter displays, as well as specially created scented hangtags on Bonjour's women's apparel.
In the fall, Richard Barrie Fragrances is planning to launch its first advertising campaign in support of its newly acquired 4711 brand.
While the budget has not yet been set, Barrie speculated that the new exposure could double 4711's retail volume to $6 million in the first year.
Instead of advertising, Lady in Red turned to sampling to spread the word about its new Beautiful Lady. According to Deborah Richmond, president, 24 million 0.25-oz. purse sprays of the new scent went out in the mail earlier this month.
Richmond projected that Beautiful Lady will hit a wholesale volume of $6 million between Mother's Day and year's end.
According to Mark Laracy, president of Parfums de Coeur, the company is planning a two-year strategy to reestablish the Matchabelli brands it purchased last August -- Wind Song, Aviance Night Musk and Cachet.
The equation will include new advertising behind Wind Song and Aviance as well as fresh packaging for all three brands. According to Laracy, Wind Song will put a budget of $5 million behind a national TV and print campaign that is expected to break this summer, while Aviance will be backed with $1.25 million in TV advertising this Christmas.
While many companies are thinking upper end, many manufacturers are turning to body sprays as a way of bringing younger users into the fragrance market. The sprays, which contain less "juice" than colognes, usually retail for less than 50 percent of the price of their cologne counterparts.
According to industry sources, body sprays are one of the fastest growing categories in the mass fragrance business, with sales gains last year of roughly 15 percent, to $115 million.
In April, Parfums de Coeur will launch body spray versions of its three Matchabelli scents in the hopes of attracting younger users, Laracy said. The 2.5-oz. spray will be priced at $4.To create a more accessible entry price point, the company will offer a trial shipment of 0.5-oz. body sprays for 99 cents. To make room for the new body sprays, the company will remove slower-moving items, such as 0.3-oz. cologne sprays and 2.9-oz. pumps, from all three brands.
"We're trying to improve the basic stock rate of sale and improve sell-through for our promotions and during Christmas," said Laracy.
In April, Naturistics will ship body sprays in all five of its fragrances.
"The body spray category is still growing like crazy at mass," said Bill McMenemy, group vice president of marketing for Del Laboratories' consumer products division. Del Labs manufactures Naturistics.
"There is still such a price sensitivity in the market that the body sprays are really the entry price into a fragrance line," he said.
Industry sources estimated that this year the Naturistics fragrance line will have sales of about $15 million at wholesale, and that body sprays could generate 25 to 30 percent of the collection's sales in less than two years.
The 2.5-oz. sprays will have a suggested retail price of $3.50.
McMenemy also noted that this Mother's Day the fragrances' first ancillary product -- an 8-oz. body lotion -- will be introduced on a promotional basis. Gift sets in all five fragrances will feature the lotion and a 1.5-oz cologne for $10, with a product value of $17.
Five different sets in each of the five fragrances will also be offered at Christmas. Last year, the company only offered two in the different scents.
"The category is still struggling, and it certainly has a long way to go," McMenemy said. "But it seems like both retailers and manufacturers are working together better this year to breathe life into it."
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