By and  on May 27, 1994

NEW YORK -- More and more mass fragrance marketers want to graze in Coty's Vanilla Fields.

The phenomenal success of Vanilla Fields -- the brand has become the top-selling scent for many chains such as Kmart Corp. and PayLess and is expected to hit $30 million in wholesale volume this year -- has encouraged several other fragrance firms to create vanilla-based scents.

The battle is so intense that Coty brought suit and won a decision in a New York Federal Court to block one of its competitors.

Vanilla Fields has spawned a host of other contenders as well:

  • Parfum Parquet's French Vanilla will ship in September. The line will consist of two stockkeeping units: a 1-oz. spray mist for $11 and a 1.7-oz. size for $15. A trial-size 0.5-oz. version will retail for $4.95.
  • Bonne Bell's vanilla additions to its Bonne Bell Smackers and Lip Smackers line include Smackers Aerosol Vanilla Blossom scent, which retails for $3.25, and Vanilla Vibes bath and shower gel and Vanilla Blossom Spritzer, each for $7.95.
  • Coty itself will try to extend its share of the vanilla market with the September launch of Vanilla Musk. Jerry Abernathy, Coty's president, predicted first-year wholesale volume will hit $12.5 million. Vanilla Musk has a suggested retail of $12 for a 1-oz. cologne spray.
"We want to get an even bigger slice of the vanilla pie," said Mary Manning, vice president for market development at Coty.

Several retailers said they've heard other manufacturers are planning to enter the vanilla wars and likened vanilla to musk, which is marketed in several scents.

"I'm not sure you can trademark vanilla," said one buyer.

One manufacturing executive who is introducing a vanilla product said, "I don't think Coty can lay claim to inventing vanilla. I don't think they can stop others from adding vanilla to their products."

In addition, the popularity of vanilla with consumers continues to grow, executives noted. According to Ed Weinberg, vice president and general manager for the Parfums Parquet division of Houbigant in Ridgefield, N.J., vanilla is catching on as women return to romantic and sensuous scents.

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