Seven years — which is how long it’s taken The House of Creed to release a new men’s scent — is a lifetime in the fragrance world. But the nearly 257-year-old brand isn’t worried about market trends and research or seasons. Viking, which will start to roll out next month after an official launch in Iceland, is the first men’s eau de parfum from Creed since Aventus hit counters in 2010 — which remains a bestseller.
Viking, encased in a vibrant red bottle printed with a long ship — is a departure package-wise for the brand (Spring Flower and its pink bottle is the only other scent with bright packaging). The fruity floral — which contains citrus accords like bergamot, a middle note of peppermint and a base of Indian sandalwood, vetiver and patchouli — goes on sale at Creed’s three boutiques and creedboutique.com on Sept. 5. On Oct. 1, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman in the U.S. and Holt Renfrew in Canada will launch the scent, where each has an exclusive for 10 months until Viking sees a wider rollout across North America. Prices range from $350 for a 50-ml. bottle to $495 for a 100-ml. bottle.
Ordinarily, a brand would bank on the momentum of a star, quickly formulating flankers or rushing to create follow-ups — but not Creed.
“The way our competition works, no one in premium luxury today would wait seven years to launch a product. The way it has happened is by default; we do things a little differently than the industry,” said Emmanuel Saujet, cofounder and chief executive officer of Creed’s North American marketer and distributor ICP, calling the launch cadence “unconventional.”
It suits Creed, though, as the brand is on track to see 14 to 16 percent increases for 2017. The executive declined to comment on sales figures, but an industry source estimated Creed’s global business at just over $110 million with potential to reach $190 million by the end of next year.
And to meet these goals, Creed has a very busy fall lineup.
In addition to the launch of Viking, Creed will open its third freestanding door in Miami the week of Sept. 11, a 558-square-foot space in the Miami Design District. Earlier this month, the brand also introduced White Amber for women, the sixth fragrance in the Royal Exclusives collection — the highest-end range in the brand’s portfolio — at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Holt Renfrew, Creed boutiques and creed.com. Similar to Viking, White Amber is the first new addition to the Royal Exclusives group in six years, following the five that launched through 2009 and 2010, and retails from $545 for a 75-ml. bottle to $985 for a 250-ml. bottle.
Olivier Creed, sixth in his family line to head The House of Creed and master perfumer at the brand, told WWD that he never feels pressure to produce a fragrance.
“Scent creation cannot be rushed. I approach it with care and want to make sure whatever I create is unique. Our customers have wanted a new men’s scent for quite some time,” said Creed, explaining that Viking had to be a “totally new” men’s fragrance that would “capture a different spirit” than Aventus, which for him is synonymous with success and power.
Reportedly, Aventus is the bestselling fragrance in all of Neiman Marcus, where the brand does a sizable portion of its U.S. business, outselling any women’s or designer scent at the retailer. When reached for comment, Kelly St. John, vice president, divisional merchandise manager for beauty at Neiman Marcus, was unable to disclose sales specifics or rankings.
“Each Creed launch has performed better than the last,” St. John said.
She noted that although Viking will be the first traditionally men’s fragrance to launch in several years, the brand has rolled out various unisex scents that have all performed well.
“The typical Aventus customer will be interested in Viking but this is really about appealing to a modern man. The whole launch campaign about Viking…really appeals to that fearless adventure that they’re hoping a modern man will relate to,” St. John said.
In June, a New York Bloomingdale’s door ran out of Aventus in the week leading up to Father’s Day, and dedicated Creed fans waited to buy until the following week when the shipment arrived.
“The customer is so loyal that the week it came in — the Friday after Father’s Day — we rang up $11,800. That’s loyalty. Almost $12,000 rung up [in a fragrance] after Father’s Day,” said Thomas Saujet, cofounder and president of ICP.
It’s this momentum that gave Olivier Creed the confidence in taking his time to develop a follow-up to Aventus.
“I channeled the Viking man when creating the scent. In my mind, he is fearless, daring, lives life full of purpose and never settles,” Creed said lyrically of his creation process.
The master perfumer said Viking is for a man who “goes against the grain” and pushes himself in every area of his life, emphasizing a “thirst for discovery.”
The latter became the inspiration for a key component of the launch strategy, also the first big influencer push for Creed, whose social channels have grown 34 percent since January. During Labor Day weekend, the brand will take six influencers to Iceland to bring the Viking experience to life through adventure activities spanning cave exploration, visiting glaciers and a volcano museum. Erwin Creed, son of Olivier and seventh generation perfumer, is attending the trip to formally introduce the scent.
Another aspect of the brand’s influencer push entails working with pro tennis player Grigor Dimitrov, now a Creed brand ambassador, who on Aug. 20 clinched the biggest win of his career when he beat Nick Kyrgios in the final of the Cincinnati Open.
Emmanuel Saujet maintained that an increase in digital initiatives is just part of an overarching strategy ICP deployed last year to maximize Creed’s business in North America.
Accelerated expansion, and even worse, dilution of the brand, is what Creed is trying to avoid at all costs, he explained during an interview last month at ICP’s headquarters in New York City, calling its focus on advertising “almost nonexistent.” For him, fostering organic growth through strategic retail partnerships is paramount, and this largely entails tempered retail distribution. The brand pulled out of Macy’s two years ago, for instance, and going forward the focus will remain on building business in existing doors, which span 140 points of sale throughout North America and come mid-September, three freestanding doors.
These include Holt Renfrew, where the Vancouver door opened an approximately 300-square-foot Creed shops-in-shop on the revamped beauty floor, five times the space the brand occupied previously (the Yorkdale door will soon increase its Creed square footage too). Next spring, Saks Fifth Avenue will double its dedicated Creed space in its New York City flagship and Bergdorf Goodman will open a shops-in-shop. In November and December, select counters will have virtual reality experiences powered by Samsung VR Gear to give customers a feel for some of the places influencers visited in Iceland (virtual reality content will also live in video form across consumer touch points). And to extend the in-store experience, customers who purchase the fragrance during the pre-sale period will receive a Viking-inspired craft cocktail sent to their home via Cocktail Courier — a tie-in to a cocktail storytelling vertical that lives on Creed’s social feeds.
For White Amber, Thomas Saujet said that retail partners will begin to host “selling ceremonies” for the fragrance in select Neiman Marcus stores. Top customers will be invited to enjoy Champagne and caviar and get their initials engraved on bottles at these events, with permanent engraving stations soon rolling out to top performing doors.
“It celebrates life’s precious moments, [like] weddings, anniversaries, graduations, proposals or birth. It’s our made-to-measure collection,” Thomas Saujet said, adding that the Royal Exclusives collection will start to “make alliances outside of beauty” and partner with jewelry departments to attract new customers.