CHICAGO -- Fueled by a strong promotional season, men's fragrances are continuing to outperform women's in the Midwest, according to retailers.
Growth in the men's area has been particularly strong among established brands, such as Calvin Klein's trio of Obsession, Eternity and Escape for Men. But stores also report excellent results from some newer fragrances, especially Ralph Lauren's Polo Sport.
At Dayton's, Hudson's and Marshall Field's, sales of men's and women's fragrances are running ahead of last year by a single-digit percentage, and men's is doing better than women's, according to Allen Burke, divisional merchandise manager.
He said the men's business was being driven by some strong launches this year. "[Men's fragrance] is getting more promotional support from the industry. They have been able to combine value and newness, which has excited customer interest," Burke said.
DH and Field's most successful launches were Polo Sport -- "a major league home run, beyond our wildest expectations," according to Burke -- 1881 from Nino Cerruti and XS by Paco Rabanne.
He attributed the success of Polo Sport to strong promotions throughout the season, and an especially big Father's Day. Polo Sport claimed the number one rank on DH & Field's men's fragrance roster, Burke said.
Other top men's performers at the Minneapolis-based chain are, in no particular order, Obsession, Eternity, Escape, Drakkar Noir and Lauren's Polo and Safari for Men.
Burke noted that men are increasingly buying fragrance for themselves. And men's scents are gaining a following among women who buy it for themselves, he added.
The men's business is still heavily dependent on gift-with-purchase offers, Burke said, noting that bags were the most popular promotional items. A good gift program helps differentiate department stores like DH & Field's from its discount competition, he said.
"We need to pay attention to our own business and have strong offerings that appeal to our customers, not be focused on what goes on with the discount competition," Burke said.
In women's fragrance, top performers at DH & Field's are, in no particular order, Beautiful and White Linen from Estée Lauder, Elizabeth Taylor's White Diamonds, Sunflowers from Elizabeth Arden, Trésor from Lancôme, Wings by Giorgio Beverly Hills, Gio by Giorgio Armani and Klein's Escape and Eternity.He said he expects the women's business to be revitalized by strong fall launches, something that was lacking in the spring. "The customer has clearly voted that she's interested in newness," Burke said.
Among the fragrances being rolled out this fall at DH and Field's are Jaòpur from Boucheron, Sun Moon Stars by Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein's CK One, Casmir by Chopard, L'Eau d'Issey by Issey Miyake, Angel by Thierry Mugler, Dolce and Gabbana, and Sublime from Jean Patou.
Men's launches include Horizon by Guy Laroche, Catalyst by Halston, Nicole Miller for Men, Chemistry from Clinique and Donna Karan's DK Men.
"It's a pretty strong lineup," Burke said. "I can't think of a season where we've had more launches."
Carson Pirie Scott has had a terrific year so far at fragrance counters, according to Nancy Schmidt, divisional merchandise manager. She said both men's and women's were ahead by double-digit percentages, with men's the strongest. She added that she expects to maintain double-digit growth for the remainder of the year.
Father's Day business was strong, Schmidt said. "Strong promotions have been driving the business. Value sets have offered really good value. For Father's Day we had about 15 bags as gwp's, and they all did very well," she said.
The top five sellers at the Milwaukee-based chain are, in no particular order, Cool Water by Davidoff, Drakkar Noir, Obsession, Eternity and Escape for Men.
Established names continue to dominate the business; Klein's Escape for Men is the only recent addition to the list, Schmidt noted.
This spring, Carson's launched Minotaure by Paloma Picasso and XS. XS is doing well, Schmidt said, with a top 10 ranking. Coming up for fall, the retailer is launching Horizon, Wings for Men and CK One.
Schmidt noted that while Carson's traditionally has had a high percentage of male customers buying fragrance for themselves, the number has increased by about 15 percent in the last year. She also noted that men are buying more fragrance than they used to.
"They have their favorite fragrance, and now they also buy what's new," she said.The women's fragrance business at Carson's is driven by good gwp's, purchase-with-purchase offers and value sets, which are fueling growth in existing brands, Schmidt said.
She noted that value sets are becoming a year-round phenomenon, rather than limited to the holiday season.
The top women's performers at Carson's are, in no particular order, Jessica McClintock, White Diamonds, Eternity, Obsession and Escape. Classic fragrances, such as those by Chanel and Guerlain, have also had a good year, she said.
The chain launched Tendre Poison by Christian Dior and Vivid by Liz Claiborne this spring. In the fall, it will launch Casmir and Sun Moon Stars.
At Jacobson Stores, Jackson, Mich., men's fragrance sales are trending a little better than women's, with increases in the high single digits for men compared with mid-single digit sales increases for women's fragrances, said Irene Price, cosmetics and fragrance buyer.
She said the men's business had been buoyed by an exceptionally strong Father's Day, which was stimulated by strong gwp programs.
"It was a good gift business this year from almost all vendors," Price said, singling out as examples tote bags from Hugo Boss and Cool Water, glasses from Polo and a product gift from Herrera for Men.
New at Jacobson's and doing well are Joop and Feeling Man from Jil Sander. The top five men's sellers, in no particular order, are Obsession, Eternity, Polo and Safari and Cool Water.
She noted there hadn't been much change in the top lineup of men's fragrances. "Those brands seem to be well accepted and continue to grow beautifully," Price said.
Price also said that while special-occasion business, such as Father's Day and Christmas, was strong, daily business also was solid.
More men are buying for themselves at Jacobson's, and the ratio has shifted to about 50-50 female to male customers from 65-35 a few years ago.
"We're advertising more, and our men's apparel business is growing, so along with that, we're attracting more male shoppers," Price said.
In women's fragrance, the top performers, in no particular order, are Beautiful, White Linen, Chanel No. 5, Boucheron and Trésor, Price said. She noted that throughout the summer the store has done very well with ancillary bath and body lines.In the fall, Jacobson's will launch St. John for women, XS for men and CK One for both.
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