NEW YORK — BeneFit Cosmetics, one of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s more offbeat holdings, will cross into the fragrance arena with the September launch of Maybe Baby, the brand’s first scent.
Concurrently, BeneFit’s color assortment will get a serious boost from the introduction of an 80-stockkeeping-unit cosmetics line, called Marvelous Makeup.
While makeup is entrenched in BeneFit’s 27-year-old roots — the company was called The Face Place until 1991 — fragrance is uncharted territory for the brand. But it’s fair to say the arrival in October of chief executive Diane Miles, a 12-year fragrance executive from BeneFit’s sister company, Christian Dior Perfumes Inc., had something to do with BeneFit’s fragrance foray. LVMH reportedly owns 70 percent of San Francisco-based BeneFit.
“With Diane coming in, we were encouraged to do a fragrance,” co-founder Jane Ann Ford said, harkening back to the initial development stages of the scent. “It was scary. We’re makeup; we’re skin care, and we had never done a fragrance before.”
Nevertheless, BeneFit executives want to pull off an alternative to the run-of-the-mill fragrance launch. “The big media campaign with scented strips and spritzers has stopped working for most companies,” Miles remarked. Instead, BeneFit wants to create “animation and theater at point of sale.”
Central to this goal will be product positioning that’s designed to spark “fun” interactions between sales associates and customers — epitomized by questions like “Dinner tonight?”, “Are you kidding?” and “Would you like to?”, which are printed on the bottle, blotter cards and visuals. BeneFit hopes such theatrics — dubbed “scentertainment” — will play out at the brand’s 325 wholesale doors and four freestanding stores in the U.S. “The consumer wants something that adds spice to the shopping experience,” said Miles.
Maybe Baby, which was blended under the direction of Robertet’s Pierre Wulff, was inspired by BeneFit’s popular Bathina collection of five bath and body care products. Specifically, Maybe Baby’s olfactory composition is close to the scent of Touch Me Then Try To Leave, a body cream within the Bathina collection. Maybe Baby, which is priced to retail at $46 for a 100-ml. spray bottle, could generate first-year retail sales of $3 million to $5 million in the U.S., according to industry sources.But fragrance is not the only story for the brand — the category, in fact, is not seen exceeding 10 percent of the company’s total business, which reached $100 million worldwide last year, according to estimates. Roughly 33 percent of total revenues came from Europe — principally the U.K. — and the rest from North America. BeneFit’s new color story, named Marvelous Makeup, includes 40 lipsticks, 22 powder eye shadows, six cream eye shadows, 10 blushes — and the phasing out of redundant cosmetics. “It will put us on the map for makeup,” said Miles, who noted that many of BeneFit’s cosmetics launches have been intermittent group introductions rather than a large-scale, analogous presentation. “It’s a whole revamp of the BeneFit look at point of sale.”
The fragrance and color initiatives are seen as integral to a three-year plan BeneFit executives have outlined for the brand. The strategy also includes new training programs within noncompany-owned stores. Other product areas are also on the agenda: “Skin care is the last part of what we need to be a complete house,” said Miles.
Additionally, BeneFit is looking to open a fifth freestanding boutique, most likely in California, by yearend and to tweak the freestanding format prior to a rollout of “a few more [stores] each year for the next three years,” said Miles. “Only by having very solid foundations and aggressive comparative store growth can we get every cog in the wheel working in harmony.”
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