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The Beauty Begins to Lighten Up

NEW YORK -- In new efforts to reach reluctant consumers, prestige fragrance firms are experimenting with lighter, less-expensive scents, as well as seasonal items with limited availability.<BR><BR>A case in point: Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers, a...

NEW YORK — In new efforts to reach reluctant consumers, prestige fragrance firms are experimenting with lighter, less-expensive scents, as well as seasonal items with limited availability.

A case in point: Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflowers, a bright, fresh fragrance, which was introduced last year with a much lower opening price than Red Door, the company’s mainstay. Judging by reports from retailers, the strategy worked.

Sunflowers has recently been outpacing every other fragrance at Rich’s, based in Atlanta.

“Part of it is the price, but it’s really the whole product,” said Pat Joyce, divisional merchandise manager. “The packaging, the ancillary products — and it’s a wonderful fragrance.”

This fall, Calvin Klein will introduce CK One, a light scent with light price points to go with it. According to the designer, the product is meant to be “shared” by a man and a woman.

“It’s a definite home run. It’s right on for the Nineties. It’s fresh, well-priced and crosses lots of generational lines,” said Nancy Schmidt, divisional merchandise manager at Carson Pirie Scott of Milwaukee.

Seasonal fragrances, based on ideas taken from the fashion industry, have also been popping up. Last year, Escada introduced Chiffon Sorbet for the summer months only, and this year the company launched Summer in Provence for a limited run.

In addition, Lancome has finally brought O de Lancome to the U.S. for the first time. The item — long a bestseller in France — went on sale for Mother’s Day and will be sold while supplies last, likely until September.

To further probe the trend toward lightness, WWD went to fragrance counters and asked beauty advisers for a summer fragrance. Their reactions are in this section. In addition, shoppers were asked to describe their fragrance preferences and to voice their thoughts on pricing.

While delving into new product categories, beauty companies also continue to rely heavily on advertising to cut through the in-store clutter of products and promotions. A cross section of advertising executives were asked to rate the fragrance ads. Among the winners: Calvin Klein’s Escape and Casmir by Chopard from Lancaster.