By  on March 18, 1994

NEW YORK -- For its new scent, Nature's One Gardenia, La Parfumerie is staying away from the crowded fragrance bar.

The company launched the item in the bath and body departments of seven I. Magnin doors at the end of last month, and this week the line went into 14 Bloomingdale's doors and 48 Lord & Taylor stores.

"We didn't want to compete with the clutter," said Francesco Borghese, president and chief executive officer, who founded the company in 1980. "There's nothing wrong with big, dramatic launches -- it's good for the department store business. But we're looking for something more slow and steady, with a longer life span."

Borghese noted that in 1991, La Parfumerie successfully launched One Unlimited Perfume in bath departments as an extension of its Perlier bath brand. He said the Gardenia scent, which is sold next to the Perlier line in stores, has already been enjoying healthy sales as well.

"We did over $10,000 at I. Magnin [from Feb. 18 to 28]," he said. "We haven't been able to get any more figures because they total their bath sales only once a month."

An I. Magnin spokeswoman verified the figures, and said the item was "doing very well."

Borghese projected a volume of around $2.5 million at wholesale this year for Nature's One Gardenia, which should be in about 500 department and specialty store doors by the end of the year. It will roll out to an additional 100 to 150 doors in 1995.

"We should do over $5 million at wholesale next year," Borghese said.

He noted that different techniques are needed to sell a fragrance in the bath department.

"The bath and body area is self-service, so we had to make the product as simple and understandable as possible," he said. "It almost has to sell itself."

The line includes six items: A 1-oz. eau de toilette for $15, a 1.7-oz. version for $24.50, a 3.4-oz. version for $33.50, a 3.4-oz. alcohol-free perfume for $33.50, an 8-oz. shower gel for $15 and an 8-oz. body lotion for $18.Three soaps, packaged together for $15, will be added in April.

Sampling is also essential to open-sell success, Borghese said, adding that the company will distribute over 1 million samples this year. In addition, miniature versions of the fragrance and the two body products will be sold together for $7.50 in May.

Nature's One Gardenia will also benefit from an advertising and promotional budget of $500,000, said Borghese, who noted that a national print campaign will begin in the fall.

"Gardenia is in so many fragrances," said Borghese. "But we think we're offering an alternative to all the high-priced, designer perfumes at the fragrance counter."

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