NEW YORK -- After a hiatus of nearly 10 years from fragrance, L'Oreal is banking on a big comeback with a new entry: V by Vanderbilt.
The women's scent, due out in early May, is expected to have a wholesale volume in the U.S. in excess of $30 million by 1995, according to sources.
V will be aimed at active and sophisticated women under 35, who tend to prefer lighter and fresher scents, according to John Wendt, senior vice president and general manager of L'Oreal's Cosmetics and Fragrance Division. He declined to comment on the sales projection.
"We know from research that Vanderbilt is most popular to women 35 and over who like more of a classic floral scent," he said, referring to the company's first Gloria Vanderbilt scent, which was introduced in 1982. Vanderbilt's Glorious, launched in 1985, has been discontinued.
"Since we had not launched a fragrance in so long, it made sense for us to draw on the success of our Vanderbilt license," Wendt added. "We expect that in a very short time V will match Vanderbilt's sales."
According to sources, last year Vanderbilt had a wholesale volume of $35 million in the U.S. At the brand's peak in the mid-Eighties, sales approached $50 million.
L'Oreal will back V with a budget of $7 million to $8 million for print and TV advertising, according to Wendt. The campaigns will break before Mother's Day in May and run for three weeks. They will resume again at Thanksgiving and run through Christmas.
Extensive sampling is also part of the promotional plan. The company will drop 14 million scent seals in publications, as well as distribute three million carded vials in-store.
A sampling of retailers seemed bullish about L'Oreal's return to the category.
"I am very optimistic about V. It looks like it is going to be a winner," said Stephanie Hayter, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for Genovese Drugstores, Melville, N.Y.
"When L'Oreal does a launch, they always know how to do it right," said Sherri Ralston, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for Payless of Wilsonville, Ore.
"I am very excited about the fragrance and the support the company is giving to it," she added.The fragrance, a fresh floral, will be launched in one eau de parfum and four eau de toilette forms. Prices for the five-item line range from $14 for the 0.5-oz. eau de toilette spray to $37 for the 3.4-oz. eau de toilette spray. Prices for V are consistent with Vanderbilt's pricing strategy, Wendt said.
The box is vivid pink and pale green and is emblazoned with a stylized black script V. The eau de toilette bottle is vase-shaped, in clear glass with a pale green cap. The eau de parfum is in a hammered glass bottle with a gold cap.
"V is a really nice fragrance," said Gina Russo, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for The Rx Place in New York, "but I am particularly impressed with the packaging. Both the bottle and the box have a real prestige appeal."
L'Oreal is hoping to avoid the disappointing results shown by Glorious, which actively stayed on the market for about four years. At its peak, Glorious had a wholesale volume estimated at about $20 million, but sales soon fizzled.
"The problem with Glorious is that it really didn't bring in a new Vanderbilt user," said one retailer. "It essentially targeted the same woman who wore Vanderbilt, so there was no point of difference. I think Glorious might be one of the reasons L'Oreal has not launched a fragrance in so long."
But now that the company is back in the fragrance loop, it is planning to stay.
"We are now pleased with the momentum behind our cosmetics and Plenitude, so we are planning to look into other meaningful fragrance launches during the next three to four years," Wendt said, noting that L'Oreal is exploring the possibility of working with other licenses. "We hope to have something new out as early as 1995."
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