By  on September 18, 2009

NEW YORK — Despite challenging times in the mass fragrance industry, the Antonio Banderas fragrance portfolio has proven itself as enduring as the actor whose image stars on the package.

This month, Puig rolls out its sixth scent by Banderas — Seduction in Black — this time a slightly more sophisticated concoction that builds on the success of Blue Seduction for Men, which was launched in 2007. A women’s version, called Blue Seduction for Women, was unleashed last year.

“The industry is in need of a boost; it is time to get even more innovative,” declared Didier Maine de Biran, president of Puig North America. He said Puig has truly delivered masstige products to mass outlets — quality scents comparable to prestige at prices that can sell at the local drugstore.

Seduction in Black is once again proving that positioning pays off. Although hitting its full distribution this month, the scent did get a head start in CVS, Walgreens and Sears. According to Information Resources’ flash report for the week ended Aug. 16, Seduction in Black ranks number one in celebrity men’s brands in food, drug and mass for the four weeks tracked (excluding Wal-Mart). And for the week ended Aug. 16, it was the 11th best-selling of all mass men’s fragrances, according to IRI data.The fragrance ships into Walmart October 1 and will be on-counter November 1.

While the Banderas machine keeps turning out hits, the company promises a blockbuster announcement for the brand in 2010. But much like Woody Allen, with whom Banderas is working on a project, doesn’t reveal much, neither is Puig about the new initiative.

A Puig official said Banderas’ fame cuts across many age groups and isn’t as tied to market ups and downs as some celebrities. The existing scents — Spirit for Men, Spirit for Women, Antonio, Blue Seduction for Men and Blue Seduction for Women — appear to be holding their own in a tough mass market. Men’s cologne sales, according to ACNielsen, declined 14.6 percent from $281 million to $239 million for the 52-week ended Aug. 8.

The team hopes Seduction in Black will entice those users to add the new scent as a nighttime choice while also attracting others to the collection. Industry sources said it could be a $20 million scent. The eau de toilette spray retails for $22.50 for 1.0 oz., and there is a 1.7-oz.eau de toilette for $31.50. A gift set is available for holiday.

With Seduction in Black, Puig continues to upgrade its offer, according to Vanita Sabnani, vice president of marketing, who said this is the most upscale bottle to date, with a mosaic bottom and smoky glass. “The consumer is more intelligent, and we have to deliver more,” she said. Added Maine de Biran, “We offer more than a commodity experience, and we think this is something that can help grow the mass fragrance industry.”

The fragrance reflects the latest trends in notes, said Ambika Kumar, brand manager. While Blue hit upon a big movement in scents two years ago with its calming concoction of everything from mint and melon to oak moss and cappuccino, Black Seduction has a very different complexion that picks up on new scent directions.“It is more intense and sophisticated,” Kumar said. Created by Olivier Cresp of Firmenich in collaboration with Rosendo Mateu and Elisabeth Vidal from Puig Perfumery Lab, the scent is classified as a fresh aromatic woody and ambery scent.

The Puig team praised the new interaction with Coty, which took over distribution of its fragrances. “They have leverage with the trade, and it allows us time to concentrate on marketing,” said Maine deBiran. “We are pleased with the partnership.” Coty is the category manager in fragrance with many accounts and together with retailers works to enhance the mostly self-serve mass fragrance environment.

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