By  on June 13, 2008

NEW YORK ­— This time, women get to enjoy the more seductive side of Antonio Banderas.

Following on the successful launch of Blue Seduction for Men, Puig Beauty USA, a subsidiary of Puig Beauty-Fashion Group, is bringing out the women's version. It is the fifth fragrance under the Banderas nameplate and is slated to hit shelves in September. Industry sources said it could fetch first-year sales of $25 million.

It's the first Banderas scent to be overseen by Puig North America's general manager, Didier Maine de Biran, who is new to Puig but a veteran of the fragrance realm, having worked on upscale brands including Bulgari and Thierry Mugler. He assumed the role in February and it underpins a change in strategy for Puig, which has merged its prestige and mass market divisions under one roof.

"It doesn't make sense to have mass versus prestige. There is synergy between the two," said Maine de Biran during an interview to introduce the fragrance.

Retailers have said the distribution game is changing as consumers seek out new channels such as Ulta, and at the same time premium scents float to the mass market in a compressed time frame. They added that the Banderas fragrances have been perfect examples of the merging of mass and class — they have the upscale appeal of a celebrity and premium packaging, but are launched into mass doors.

"Antonio Banderas Seductive fragrances are a strategic brand for Puig Beauty USA. The addition of Blue Seduction for Women, following the success of Blue Seduction for Men in 2007, will help strengthen our position in the female masstige category," said Maine de Biran.

The category could use the boost. Women's fragrances for the 52-week period ended May 17 declined 5.2 percent to $451.5 million in the mass market (excluding Wal-Mart), according to ACNielsen.

During their launch years, each Banderas fragrance has ranked among the top 10 in mass stores. The latest introduction closely copies the nuances of the bottle for the men's Blue Seduction. The glass bottle is transparent and is designed to resemble the reflection of light on water — an effect achieved, thanks to a sculpted base designed to resemble a mosaic tile. The box is a blue turquoise in color and shows Banderas on one side."It is much more feminine, but still captures the aquatic freshness of the men's," explained Vanita Sabnani, vice president of marketing for Puig.

In a promotional video for the scent, Banderas said Puig understands his concepts for fragrance and with this one has found a scent closest to "my persona."

Citrus notes combined with water-based fruits and violets result in a fresh and pure scent. The middle notes are rose and jasmine over raspberry with an oriental accord and an overall sugary note. The scent is on target with the latest fragrance trends, according to Sabnani.

The perfumer is Oliver Cresp of Firmenich in collaboration with Elisabeth Vidal and Rosendo Mateu.

Pricing is in line with other Banderas scents — $21.50 for the 1-oz. eau de toilette spray and $30 for the 1.7-oz. The commercial features the same actress with Banderas from the men's scent, but lets the woman take the flirty lead, leaving Banderas as the "seduced seducer."

Like the men's version, Blue Seduction for Women could entice more young women to the franchise. Segundo Broggi, product manager, said retailers have been excited about the extension and there is no cannibalization expected of the existing women's Banderas fragrance. Retailers added that there appears to be no letup in demand for celeb scents, with Queen Latifah and Avril Lavigne recently announcing deals. The challenge for mass merchants, however, is selling scents when the products are often under glass or can't be sampled.

Puig is working with merchants to find better ways to feature premium scents at mass with improved materials at the point of sale. There will be a huge sampling push with more than 12 million scented strips and participation in retailers' circulars. "We want to help retailers sell scents," concluded Maine de Biran.

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