By  on January 28, 1994

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.

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