NEW YORK — The young man in Ralph Lauren’s world seemingly has it all: the fancy new computer, the exclusive gym membership and, of course, the prerequisite new car. What’s missing?
This story first appeared in the May 31, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The executives at L’Oreal USA hope it’s a new fragrance: Ralph Lauren’s Polo Blue, an updated version of the 25-year-old original Polo scent.
Polo Blue, scheduled to bow in September in 2,000 doors within 21 markets in the U.S. and then internationally in the spring, was designed to capture the attention of a very different type of man than either Polo or Polo Sport, which launched in 1994. “This is a young man with a lot of toys,” said Andrea Robinson, president of Ralph Lauren Fragrances Worldwide, a division of L’Oreal.
“He has the new boat, the best chefs and the best fitness trainers.” He is also a whole lot younger. Polo Blue — named to reflect calm and serenity — is geared to attract a younger demographic, men aged 20 to 35 years old, a similar market to Polo Sport, but without the laid-back, outdoorsy attitude.
Blue’s marketing slant isn’t the only change. The juice, being called a “crystal blue sensation,” is also a big departure from both Polo and Polo Sport. “It’s totally different,” said Doreen Bollhofer, vice president of product development for the company. “[The original] is woody and much heavier. Blue is a lighter and more contemporary scent.”
The fragrance, created by International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.’s Carlos Benaim and Christophe Laudamiel, was inspired by Caneel Bay on the island of St. John. Divided into cool, warm and smooth note categories, Polo Blue has top notes of melon de cavaillon, lush watery melon, cucumber and tangerine; middle notes of clary sage absolute, geranium and basil verbena, and base notes of washed suede, moss, amber wood, patchouli coeur and sheer musk.
The bottle, while reminiscent of the green Polo bottle, is subtly different in shape with sleek, sloping shoulders and a flat silver cap as opposed to a rounded gold one.
The Polo Blue collection includes a 2.5-oz. eau de toilette spray that will retail for $39.50, a 4.2-oz. eau de toilette spray that will sell for $52.50, a 4.2-oz. aftershave for $39.50, an aftershave gel for $37.50, shower gel for $18.50 and a deodorant stick for $15. “They have been strategically priced to reach the heart of the market,” said Robinson.
A value set will be available for holiday as well as the institution of a container program. “There will not be a gift-with-purchase,” Robinson said emphatically.
While the company refused to comment on numbers, industry sources expect the line to reach first-year retail sales of $55 million to $60 million worldwide, an ambitious target considering the plethora of men’s fragrances launching this year. Among the 31 fragrance launches expected this fall — Crave by Calvin Klein, Estee Lauder’s Intuition for Men, Armani’s Mania for Men and Kenneth Cole New York Men, to name a few — many will be competing with Polo Blue for the XY chromosome consumer.
Company executives, however, are optimistic. “We want to be in the top five,” said Robinson. NPDBeautyTrends reports that the top five best-selling prestige men’s fragrances for last year were Acqua Di Gio Pour Homme, Eternity For Men, Romance Men, Tommy and Curve For Men.
According to Jack Wiswall, president of the Designer Fragrances Division at L’Oreal USA, sales for Polo Blue will not cannibalize sales of the original Polo scent. “We will be positioning them side by side,” he said. “We believe it will help Polo Green and give new life to it. It will be a double hit.”
Ralph Lauren Fragrances has earmarked a hefty amount for an advertising and promotion war chest. Industry sources estimate the sum to be in the area of $25 million.
The “strong” advertising campaign — with a tag line that reads, “New fragrance. New classic” — will include four-page gatefolders, spreads and 25 million three-page scent-strip ads in men’s and women’s and dual-appeal books. Lifestyle ads, featuring model Doug Pickett, were shot by Bruce Weber. Bottle ads were shot by Irving Penn. Print advertising will break in some September books. Television ads — currently in the works — will also be used during the campaign.
In-store, vial-on-card samples will be distributed, and displays will feature stacked boxes printed with lifestyle images rather than the traditional panels. Advertising will also be taken into the display case, a first for the Ralph Lauren brand, with the word “blue” be placed on the bottom shelf of the case.””