Critical Mass: New Dana Puts Cash in Point-of-Sale Events

NEW YORK — New Dana is hoping for new life — not only for its company, but for the ailing mass fragrance business as well.<br><br>With its financial house now in order, New Dana Corporation is primed to pump new products into a languishing...

NEW YORK — New Dana is hoping for new life — not only for its company, but for the ailing mass fragrance business as well.

This story first appeared in the July 12, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

With its financial house now in order, New Dana Corporation is primed to pump new products into a languishing mass fragrance market starting early next year. “We’ve finally arrived at the place where we are ready to launch a new fragrance,” said Tony Wesley, chief operating officer of New Dana. “Retailers are banging us over the head for new items.”

Launching a new scent, however, into a market where men’s sales declined 0.4 percent and women’s almost 4 percent for the 52-week period ending February 24, 2002, according to Information Resources Inc., is a daunting task.

In the past, marketers had to sink millions of dollars into new fragrance launches. New Dana is taking a different tack. Instead of national advertising campaigns, the company is putting its dollars where consumers’ noses are — at the point of sale. “Retailers don’t need advertising to bring customers to their stores — look at how many people walk through a Wal-Mart daily. Fragrance is never going to be a destination; people aren’t going to say I need to go buy a Dana fragrance. But fragrance can be an impulse purchase,” said Wesley.

New Dana is also attempting to entice consumers with bottles and fragrances that are “reflective” of prestige trends without being knockoffs. A case in point is Secrets by Dana, a scent unveiled at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace meeting last month and destined for shelves by next spring.

New Dana fragrances are sold across the globe and many of its scents are among top sellers in markets such as Brazil and Spain. Using its international expertise, New Dana is importing some hits from abroad. Secrets by Dana, a brand known in Spain, is now being readied for the U.S. The fragrance sports a contemporary clear and long bottle and a light scent. According to Wesley, it parallels scents such as Kenzo’s Flower or Clinique’s Happy. “We’re positioning this as an urban, daytime scent.” However, the price points at retail will be under $20 for a 2-oz. bottle. There will also be an introductory .5-oz. trial size.

He’s quick to add that New Dana is not attempting to make the scent an inexpensive copy of prestige options. “These are not knockoffs. They are beautiful scents at value prices,” he said. One buyer who saw Secrets at Marketplace agreed that the fragrances could appeal to a shopper inspired by upscale fragrances, but desiring to pay under $35. Secrets will hit shelves in August.

A second women’s fragrance, as yet unnamed, is based on a brand sold in Brazil under the Incognito name which will not be used in the U.S. “It is very pink, very sexy and a vibrant oriental [fragrance],” said Wesley. The launch will ship in September 2003 and be supported with holiday gift sets.

There is also a new men’s scent called Vetiver by Dana that also reflects trends in the prestige men’s arena incorporating green and fruity notes.

To promote the scents, New Dana is working out deals for in-store sampling. There will be no national media, an opposite approach from New Dana’s main mass competitor, Coty, which is known for its mammoth marketing budgets. Coty is planning a new The Healing Garden scent this year as well as the rollout of a Rimmel fragrance at Wal-Mart.

Without the same type of dollars available, New Dana is hoping to entice shoppers into the stores with samples and a counter unit with testers. “There is a greater chance of someone using a fragrance if they sample it,” he explained. Some of the fresh concepts at New Dana are from the firm’s new vice president of marketing, Carla Ferber, who has experience outside of the U.S. market. “She is challenging us to do things differently,” he said. New Dana is also looking to inspiration from markets such as Spain, where fragrance has almost become an “in-and-out” market. He hopes New Dana can inject some of the same excitement into the U.S. market where consumers flock to new items.

Another twist — a contest consisting of an instant-win cash prize attached to English Leather. Customers will have the opportunity to win cash prices averaging $350, with a total of $25,000 to be awarded. The contest will also help New Dana gather information from consumers about their purchasing habits, which can be used for product development. “We were going to do a razor attached to English Leather, and I said ‘kill me with boredom,’ so we’re trying a contest,” laughed Wesley.

The entries join New Dana’s portfolio of classics including Canoe, Chantilly and Heaven Sent. This year, Wesley said New Dana would add more ancillary items to support the classic brands such as a vitamin E lotion for Chantilly, Heaven Sent and Tabu. “You’ll see more items in the gift sets — consumers get tired of juice on juice or juice on a powder in a set,” he said referring to the use of the same fragrance in different sizes in gift assortments.

As New Dana wraps up its holiday programs, Wesley said all gift sets would have “family-theme” packaging that shows they are part of Dana Classic Fragrances. “This way, retailers merchandise them all together and it gives more impact in the store.” Wesley said retailers are optimistic about fragrances for Yule 2002, especially at the mass level as consumers look to pinch pennies. Wesley said New Dana had better than an 80 percent sell-through on fragrance sets with its accounts last year.

It’s been a rocky road for New Dana. Originally part of a company called RCI that was formed in 1994, New Dana grew quickly until its founder, Thomas Bonoma, died unexpectedly in 1997, forcing the firm to file for Chapter 11. A private investment group headed by Dimeling, Schreiber & Park (which had no presence in beauty) purchased most of the holdings of RCI and renamed the company New Dana Perfumes in 1999. In the past few years, New Dana gained back 90 percent of its fragrance distribution lost during bankruptcy. Wesley expects the new fragrance to be in more than 10,000 doors.

Wesley agreed that fragrances have been a challenge for mass merchants. “However, we have heard of no reductions in space. Instead, buyers are asking us for new items to bring it back,” he said.