Surge in Skin Care Gives Southeast an Edge

ATLANTA -- Southeast retailers reported strong gains in the men's fragrance business, with sales being driven by new launches and a growing willingness among men to try new products, including those with treatment properties.<BR><BR>At Rich's, men's...

ATLANTA — Southeast retailers reported strong gains in the men’s fragrance business, with sales being driven by new launches and a growing willingness among men to try new products, including those with treatment properties.

At Rich’s, men’s fragrances have shown high, single-digit gains this spring, with similar increases projected through the year, according to Pat Joyce, vice president, divisional merchandise manager.

“Newness, treatment and new items are driving business,” she said.

Rich’s launched Ralph Lauren’s Polo Sport in January, in conjunction with the Super Bowl, which was held in Atlanta. Other launches have included Aramis’s Lift Off treatment item and Chanel’s Egoiste Platinum.

All three are meeting or exceeding plan, said Joyce.

“Lift Off took off very fast and has become well accepted, as have the treatment products in Polo Sport,” she said, adding that Lift Off now represents between 25 and 30 percent of the total Aramis business at Rich’s.

“Women’s treatment has been explosive, and we’ve been surprised but pleased to see that men’s products are becoming accepted,” added Joyce. “Baby boomers are aging, and they’re open to the idea of something to keep them youthful looking. It’s a trend we can ride for several years, as other vendors introduce products.”

Joyce said that the fact that products have been introduced as items, rather than complex regimens, had boosted sales.

“It’s a ‘problem-solution’ approach that makes sense to men,” she said.

Best-selling lines at Rich’s, Joyce noted, include Calvin Klein’s men’s versions of Eternity, Obsession and Escape, Aramis, Polo Sport, Ralph Lauren’s Safari and Lancaster’s Davidoff Cool Water.

Joyce added that Rich’s uses newspaper and direct mail advertising, and is negotiating with a unspecified vendor to coproduce a television infomercial set to air later this year.

At Proffitt’s, a 25-store chain based in Alcoa, Tenn., comparable-store business increased 18.4 percent this spring, with 20 percent gains projected for the remainder of 1994, according to Judy Ivens, divisional merchandise manager for cosmetics.

In some stores, Proffitt’s has instituted dual locations for men’s fragrances, both in cosmetics departments and in the men’s accessories area.

Heavy advertising, both in television and radio, have also boosted sales.

Recent launches include Escape, Polo Sport, Lancaster’s Zino Davidoff and Joop and Safari.

Sales of Polo Sport in March have exceeded Eternity, Proffitt’s largest volume line, according to Ivens.

Other bestsellers include Obsession, Eternity, Polo, Cosmair’s Drakkar Noir and Safari.

Spray colognes, splashes, soaps and after shave balms have been best-selling items, noted Ivens.

“Men now make about 40 percent of men’s fragrance purchases,” said Ivens. “Men are more willing to experiment with new fragrances, rather than being loyal to one.”

Skin care is a growing business, due to increased awareness of consumers and fueled by national advertising, Ivens said.

In addition to Polo Sport, Clinique’s Turnaround Cream has done a “tremendous amount of business” with men, she said.

At Jackson, Miss.-based McCrae’s, the men’s fragrance category is up 25 percent year-to-date over the same period in 1993.

Increases of between 11 and 12 percent are projected for 1994.

Escape, just introduced Jan. 30, is McCrae’s number one men’s scent and is between 70 and 80 percent over plan, according to Chris Evans, divisional merchandise manager for cosmetics.

He said that the $35 entry-level price point had been key in Escape’s performance.

Polo Sport has just been launched, with Givenchy’s InsensÄ planned for April.

“Last year was the year for women, but 1994 seems to be the year for men’s fragrance, with so many new launches,” said Evans.

As other bestsellers, he listed Eternity, Obsession, Cool Water and Polo.

Men have become more receptive to skin care products, Evans noted, especially since the launch of Lift Off in February.

“Fruit acid products have been played up in the media, and men have become more aware of the environmental dangers to the skin,” he said.

At Castner Knott, a Nashville, Tenn.-based department store chain, sales of men’s fragrances have increased 10 percent year-to-date over last year, with similar gains projected for the rest of 1994, according to Wanda Rositano, cosmetics area manager.

Polo Sport and Aramis’s Lift Off have both been launched in recent months to strong consumer response, said Rositano.

“Men are buying Lift Off based on the pitch that it decreases shave time as much as for its anti-aging properties,” she said.

Rositano predicted strong sales of Polo Sport’s Face and Body Sports Cream, talcum powder and self-tanning cream throughout the summer months.

Castner Knott is coordinating with vendors for major special events this spring.

“Tuscany Piazza,” a three-day event, will include sampling, Italian food, visuals and free monogramming of fragrance bottle caps with purchase.

Another event, “Get Physical,” will promote Aramis products with free workout passes to local health clubs, along with a free sports bottle with purchase. Body builders will be on hand to demonstrate body products.

Both events are scheduled for April.