NEW YORK — Demeter Fragrance Library, the company that brought fragrances named Dirt and Baby Powder to specialty stores, is now getting sweet on the mass market.
In addition to its signature offbeat fragrances, Demeter has the rights to several candy names, such as Jelly Belly, Necco and the Tootsie Roll master license, which includes Junior Mint and Dots. The latest candy license from Demeter is Hershey and will include Hershey’s Kisses, Special Dark, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and Jolly Rancher Green Apple. On the drawing board are scents based on Pop-Tarts.
This story first appeared in the August 29, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Initially, the candy licenses were sold in retailers such as Urban Outfitters and victoriassecret.com, but are now being offered to major chains. The company expects to ship the sweet scents into mass doors in early 2009.
Demeter chief executive officer Mark D. Crames, who acquired the company from its founders in 2002, said the time was right to branch into the mass market with the ongoing blurring of retail channels. The firm launched the candy scents at the most recent Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing Cosmetics meeting in Houston to much interest.
“There is so little new in fragrances,” said one buyer at the show. “This was a real treat.”
Indeed, the mass market fragrance business has been bereft of launches outside of the activities of Coty Inc., which primarily focuses on celebrities. The women’s fragrance business in food, drug and mass (excluding Wal-Mart) took a hit in the most recent 52-week period ended Aug. 9, declining 4 percent to $450 million, according to ACNielsen. Crames hopes the flavorful scents can put the business back on track.
“The price points are perfect for mass,” he said of the $20 retail for a 1-oz. cologne spray. Crames admitted the sweet scents don’t match the light florals that are currently in vogue in the fragrance category. “But these things go in cycles and we always sell Vanilla Cake Batter — it doesn’t go out [of style],” he observed.
And, with so many flavors to choose from, the fragrances can appeal to a wide swath of consumers, he said. “With Tootsie Pop we have infinite flavors available,” Crames explained. Candy licenses have already proven their appeal in mass market with items like lip glosses from Lotta Luv.
To accommodate chains, Demeter has created a special display called the Sweet Shoppe stocked with fewer pieces to fit on counters. There are testers included so shoppers can sample the scents in a mass market setting. Also, the header card touts the fact the scents are, and always have been, 95 percent natural. With natural products gaining steam in the mass market, retailers said the natural composition was a selling point. “The founders of the company [Christopher Brosius and Christopher Gable] insisted on natural,” Crames said.
The original Demeter fragrance lineup consists of more than 200 scents. The bestseller remains the simple Baby Powder formula. Demeter is getting more distribution in Sephora stores within J.C. Penney and will also make its debut on QVC. Demeter, with scents such as Play Doh and Gin and Tonic, has long been credited with changing the way consumers think about fragrance, and the items are sold in 25 countries. On average, according to the company, a Demeter product is sold somewhere in the world every 45 seconds.
Under the Freedom Marketing Group banner, Crames bought Demeter and quickly made plans to expand the company and to reach retail sales in the $50 million to $60 million range with extensions, such as the candy licenses.