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H2O Draws a Bead on Men

NEW YORK -- Following the success of its Mariel women's scent last year, H2O Plus will now make waves in the men's fragrance market.<BR><BR>Waves, the company's first men's scent, will be introduced early in June, in time for Father's Day, June...

NEW YORK — Following the success of its Mariel women’s scent last year, H2O Plus will now make waves in the men’s fragrance market.

Waves, the company’s first men’s scent, will be introduced early in June, in time for Father’s Day, June 19.

It will make its debut in the 60 H2O Plus Stores.

“This is a logical extension for us,” said Fred Weinert, president of H2O Plus, who noted the company is also presenting Waves to its department store accounts, which represent 143 doors.

“When we launched Mariel last year, our goal was to take H2O from a bath and body concept to a total beauty and skin care concept,” he said.

According to Weinert, Mariel had retail sales last year of $6 million, a 35 percent increase over initial projections.

With Waves, the company hopes to lay the groundwork for a larger men’s business. Waves, which will be launched in a 3-oz. eau de toilette spray for $30, is expected to have retail sales of at least $1 million from Father’s Day through Christmas, Weinert said.

“Right now most of the men who come into our stores are buying gifts for women,” he said. “So we are making a conscious decision to offer men a little better selection.”

Weinert noted that presently H2O’s men’s selection is somewhat meager. There are several skin care products that have a unisex positioning and about 10 items specifically targeted to men. These include an 8-oz. Foamless Shave Cream for $9 and a 3.4-oz. Razor Relief Cream for $12.

The men’s stockkeeping units now generate roughly 4 or 5 percent of the company’s total sales, or about $875,000 last year, Weinert said.

“We think that through the fragrance and by adding other, more specific men’s sku’s in the future, we could take men’s sales up to 6 or 7 percent of total volume,” he said, adding that the company is thinking about adding a men’s deodorant and a shave gel in the near future.

H2O’s total 1993 sales were $25 million, including company shops and department store counters.

Weinert added that same-store sales were up 17 percent.

Although the company is not planning to back the new fragrance with national advertising this year, it will distribute 200,000 carded vials of Waves in H2O stores, and will invite 300,000 of its preferred customers, via a direct mail piece, to come into stores to sample the scent.

Waves is a blend of citrus and fresh top notes, including grapefruit with a dry down of patchouli, sandalwood and oak moss.

Weinert noted that while many of the H2O products use the soothing and calming images of water, Waves will focus on the power and vitality of an ocean wave for its positioning.

For the last several years, H2O Plus has marketed an after shave splash that has drawn an over-35 clientele. The 3.4-oz. splash is $15.

“We think that Waves will bring in a new market for us and attract men 20 to 40,” Weinert said. “Younger men seem to like more complex fragrances and sprays rather than splashes.”