By  on September 9, 1994

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.

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