NEW YORK — Revlon is out to ignite its less-than-sizzling mass fragrance business with the most ambitious launch in its history.
The company aims to make the new scent synonymous with Revlon in the consumer consciousness, eclipsing even Charlie, which was a worldwide sensation in the Seventies.
As a measure of its commitment, Revlon has named the new fragrance Fire & Ice, a name that has its roots in the company’s history and evokes the glory days of legendary founder Charles Revson.
Fire & Ice was the name of the company’s first classic shade of red lipstick with matching nail enamel in 1952. In August, the fragrance incarnation of Fire & Ice will be launched globally. It will be followed in November by Fire & Ice for Men.
Industry sources estimate that the Fire & Ice women’s scent could have a wholesale volume of $30 million to $35 million in the first year and the men’s would generate around $15 million. Revlon executives declined to break out sales projections.
“Historically, Charlie is the only fragrance that has been directly linked with Revlon,” said Kathy Dwyer, the company’s executive vice president of marketing. “Our most recent fragrances have been more niche brands and just haven’t had that association. “We are committed to making Fire & Ice the signature fragrance for Revlon,” Dwyer added. “A fragrance can reinforce the glamour of color cosmetics, and we expect that Fire & Ice will work for us in that way. Some of our more recent launches haven’t done that.”
To achieve that, Revlon is reportedly investing $20 million in advertising and promotions to support the Fire & Ice fragrance brands during its roughly nine-month launch period, which will extend into part of 1995.
“We are intent on being the leading spender in 1994 and beyond in the mass fragrance market,” said Dwyer, who declined to comment on advertising or sales figures.
Print and TV campaigns for the women’s fragrance will break in September and run at least through June, according to Linda Baboulis, vice president of marketing. Men’s TV and print ads will break in December.
“We think that the men’s fragrance also will benefit from the Fire & Ice brand positioning that the fragrance will get in the woman’s campaign,” Baboulis said. The company is planning to distribute more than 21 million samples of the women’s scent, including scented strips, carded vials and vials that will be cross-sampled with bottles of Fire & Ice nail enamel, Baboulis added, noting that about 4.5 million men’s samples would be distributed. The fragrance will be further supported with in-store demonstrations from beauty advisers, special brochures, tie-ins with the company’s color cosmetics and special tissue paper and shopping bags.
“We are really looking to create the feeling of a department store launch at the mass level in everything that we do for Fire & Ice,” Dwyer said.
To that end, the company has added another prestige-like touch. According to Dwyer, Revlon is planning to offer a different 0.25-oz. Special Limited Edition Perfume every year for the women’s fragrance. This year’s version will have a suggested retail price of $38.
“Over the last few years, we have not done a lot of fragrance launches and certainly none have them as big as Fire & Ice. We’ve basically been focusing on color cosmetics and treatment,” Dwyer said. “Our next step will be to restage Charlie in the fall to make it a relevant business for the Nineties,” she added. Charlie, Revlon’s most successful woman’s fragrance to date, was launched in 1973.
Revlon executives declined to comment on sales results, but industry sources estimate that in the Seventies, the brand’s peak period, it had a wholesale volume around $85 million. Last year, Charlie’s wholesale volume was around $45 million, according to sources.
Last year, those sources estimate, Revlon’s total mass fragrance wholesale volume was around $160 million for its stable of more than 10 brands, including Charlie, Jean NatÄ and Jontue and — more recently — Downtown Girl, Unforgettable, Wild Heart and Ajee.
That number is a little over one-third of what sources said Revlon’s peak fragrance sales were in the late Seventies and early Eighties, when the division generated an estimated $350 million in fragrance sales.
“At one time, Revlon was one of the leaders in the mass fragrance market,” said industry consultant John Horvitz. “It was certainly one of the top three players in the late Seventies when all of its brands and concepts reflected the spirit — the fire and ice, if you will — that drove Revlon under Charles Revson.
“The fragrance segment of their business appears to have been neglected from the early Eighties on,” he added.
In recent years, Revlon has continued to launch fragrances, but none of them have achieved the widespread success of Charlie. They include Unforgettable in 1990, Downtown Girl in 1992 and Wild Heart in 1993.
“For the most part, my Revlon brands have not been doing really well,” said Carol Allman, divisional merchandise manager for the Jack Eckerd Corp. of Clearwater, Fla. “They’ve pretty much withdrawn their support, and they’ve kind of fallen by the wayside. I think they will need to commit major work to revitalize them.”
“We do pretty well with Enjoli, Jontue and Charlie, but the rest of the fragrances have pretty much drifted off into the sunset,” said Judy Wray, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for Revco D.S. of Twinsburg, Ohio. “There has been no money, no interest and no support.”
Revlon is out to change this perception of its fragrance business. In addition to Fire & Ice and the Charlie restage, Revlon is reportedly quadrupling its 1994 mass fragrance advertising budget from last year for its other brands to more than $20 million, sources said.
“We are getting back into the fragrance market with a sense of commitment,” Dwyer said. “We want to not only launch new brands, but to make sure we sustain them over the long haul. It is our goal to reestablish Revlon’s dominance in the upper end of the mass fragrance market.”
Dwyer noted that the Fire & Ice launch strategy will differ from past efforts by including a 12-month marketing program, rather than just an initial plan for the launch season.
In addition, the company has gone outside to consult with industry experts on the scent and the packaging, which traditionally it has not done. Fragrance consultant Ann Gottlieb was called in to work on the juice, while the Paris firm of Raison Pure created the bottle.
The company has also done extensive marketing research this time. The juice was tested with 1,800 women from 18 to 49 in ways that replicated store trial situations and at-home use, according to Baboulis.
“We have never tested a product to this extent or consulted this much with outside experts,” said Baboulis. “But everything had to be so right and so perfect. We want Fire & Ice to be a part of our heritage.”
The woman’s fragrance will be launched with four items, including the limited edition perfume:. a 0.5-oz. cologne spray for $25, a 1-oz. cologne spray for $22 and a 1.7-oz. cologne spray for $27.
A 0.16-oz. trial size with a suggested retail price of $2.95 will go on counter in August.
Gottlieb describes the fragrance as a sheer oriental. Its top notes include osmanthus, orange flower and tangerine leading into middle notes of orchid, magnolia, tuberose and narcissus. The warm, sensual dry down includes exotic woods, amber and musk.
“Our goal was to achieve a fragrance that was sophisticated enough to attract prestige consumers but that had enough broad appeal to be sold in the mass market,” Gottlieb said. “I call it a sheer oriental because it is not heavily cloying like many orientals.
The men’s juice has not yet been done, but according to Gottlieb, it will have some kind of crisp top note on a warm oriental base. The line will be launched with three stockkeeping units: A 2-oz. after shave for $15, a 2-oz. cologne pour for $20 and a 1.7-oz. cologne spray for $20.
A sampling of retailers seems to be optimistic about Fire & Ice.
“I am pretty excited about it,” said Sheri Ralston, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for Payless of Wilsonville, Ore. “It looks like Revlon has finally done its homework. If they put the money and promotions behind it like they say, it should be a very nice launch. They seem to be focusing more long term than they have in the past, and that might mean that they will have a winner.”
“I’m a little concerned about their launching a men’s fragrance so closely behind the women’s in the first year,” said Revco’s Wray. “But if they put the money behind both launches, I would say the women’s has a shot at being in my top three fragrances this Christmas.”
Steven Lubin, divisional merchandise manager of the Walgreen Co. of Deerfield, Ill., agreed, saying, “If Revlon commits the ad dollars behind it that it says it will, we think that it will have all of the pieces to be a success.”