Lauder’s Trip to Fantasy Island

Estée Lauder is launching Beyond Paradise, a fragrance it wants to push into the top five - which means sales around $100 million after a year.

NEW YORK — In August, when Estée Lauder launches its new women’s fragrance, Beyond Paradise, with its hyper-fantasy positioning, executives hope it’ll be a trip — both for consumers and the company.

This story first appeared in the April 11, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

From the exotic floral formula, to the crystal glass packaging refracting a rainbow of colors, to the groundbreaking advertising campaign embracing radio, VH-1 MTV, E! and cinema spots, Beyond Paradise presents a startling number of departures for the 58-year-old Lauder brand, not the least of which involves distribution. For the first time, the division will ask retailers for dual locations — both on the Estée Lauder counter, as usual, and at the fragrance bar.

It certainly isn’t business as usual in the Lauder division, where the corporation’s flagship brand, still boasting retail sales of $2.7 billion worldwide, has been striving to regain its former market dominance.

“We built the DNA to target a new audience,” said Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, group president in charge of the Lauder brand, MAC Cosmetics and the Designer Fragrances division. “We are talking to consumers in a different way to get them to visualize the Lauder brand in a new place.” He added, “fragrance changes the perception of a brand like nothing else.”

“This is not your typical Lauder fragrance,” said Evelyn Lauder, senior corporate vice president, who credited the teamwork with Karyn Khoury, senior vice president, corporate fragrance development worldwide. For one thing, there’s the unusual degree of softness in the scent, Lauder added, asserting that “this fragrance is different from anything in the market and different from anything we have ever done.”

Peter Lichtenthal, senior vice president of global marketing for the Lauder division, said the 1995 launch of Pleasures, which was Lauder’s first global hit, “broke ground. It gave us an expanded user profile and changed a number of attitudes. Women had not looked at us in that way before and we think that this can be the same,” said Lichtenthal, who had been introduced to about 300 cheering Lauder staffers as the architect of the Beyond Paradise launch plan at the divisional sales meeting in Amelia Island, Fla., on Monday.

Noel Robinson, vice president of global fragrance marketing, added, “this will be our biggest global fragrance.” She asserted, “we are redefining fantasy.”

The company does not discuss sales or advertising figures, but industry sources estimate that Lauder’s goal of propelling Beyond Paradise into the top five would require achieving a global volume of $100 million retail within a year after the U.S. launch. Roughly $60 million of that retail volume would be generated in the U.S. for the the first 12 months.

In order to achieve this objective, Lauder reportedly has amassed an advertising and promotional war chest of $18 million to $20 million in the spending for the U.S. alone for the first year.

Daniel Annese, vice president of marketing for North America, said: “Our goal is to capture a new generation.”

While the consumer target was identified initially as fashion-forward women between 18 and 34 years old, clearly the larger aim is to broaden the base of the brand by adding a new community of users. Bousquet-Chavanne’s overall plan is make Beyond Paradise a global fragrance leader, while bridging the gap between American and European sensibilities and establishing Lauder’s position in the high-sensuality and fantasy fragrance categories.

The fragrance, supplied by Quest International, is referred to as a prismatic floral, referring to a spectrum of emotions represented by seven colors that figure in the formulation, the bottle design and the advertising. The crystal content of the glass in the bottle, manufactured by Pochet, refracts light into layers of color. The top note includes a wet citrus accord. Bergamot, lemon and grapefruit are blended to enhance the floralcy of blue hyacinth and is enhanced with the unusual addition of orange templar flower and the Jabuticaba fruit for tart fruitiness and freshness. A rain-drenched quality is added by philodendron vines

The core of the fragrance is designed to add a fantasy kick, with Laelia orchid and slights spicy Cattleya Orchard. Other flowers include crepe jasmine, Mahonia Japonica and pink honeysuckle.

More freshness and tropical wetness comes from an accord, Eden Mist, obtained from the Eden Project, an ecological initiative in Cornwall, England. The project houses 100,000 plants, many of which are endangered species from all over the world. Lauder has a relationship with the project for sourcing new notes.

The dry-down is designed to add warmth and suggest serenity with natal plum blossom and zebrano wood, rounded out with golden melaleuca bark for added sensuality.

Khoury noted that the formula features an unusual use of green notes — not leafy, but wet and sensual. The wetness has a drenching quality, she added.

Evelyn Lauder pointed out the fruitiness, but also the warmth of the woodsy notes. She noted that “Beyond Pleasure has the most fantastical positioning of any Lauder fragrance. It is not necessarily a destination, but a state of mind and a sense of well-being. The goal is to try achieve something outside of ourselves, with people traveling in virtual reality.” The positioning has a strong sense of escape, of “trying to achieve an aura and a mind-set.”

The fantasy is illustrated in the advertising developed by Aerin Lauder, vice president of global development for the Lauder brand, and done by Bates Worldwide. Looking like an otherworldly sea nymph, the face of Carolyn Murphy floats over a rolling wave while she holds a rainbow-colored bottle like a torch. An array of flowers are superimposed on the scene. Lauder noted that it is unusual to have so many overlapping elements in an advertising image. “We definitely are trying to reach a different consumer,” she said, adding that the core Lauder users could also adopt the new fragrance as an alternative.

Prices range from $39.50 for a 1-oz. eau de parfum to $160 for a 0.5-oz. perfume. Pricing is 7 percent above Intuition and on par with Ralph Lauren’s Romance.

The media plan is designed to reach 100 million people, including the first time that a Lauder launch will be on the radio in the top 15 markets. A commercial will be shown on more than 10,000 movie screens and on network TV, as well as cable shows attracting younger audiences. In addition, spreads and gatefolds in national magazines, including Jane, Marie Claire and Teen Vogue, are planned. There will be 25 million scented strips, 50 million catalog blow-ins and five million vial samples. In addition, there will be outdoor and mall advertising.

Also, to the usual in-store collaterals, Lauder has engineered a display unit featuring a holographic virtual reality of a bottle. Added visual impact will be provided by a bank of six video screens.”What is important here is the rainbow of colors, the serenity and the passion,” said Janet Cook, president of Estée Lauder North America. “We want to engage consumers with an interactive experience in the stores to break the wall of sameness and routine.”

In addition to the 2,200 U.S. doors, the fragrance will also be rolled out in September to the U.K., Australia and travel retail. It will appear in Asia in November, the Middle East and Africa in January and in continental Europe in February.

Fred Langhammer, Lauder’s chief executive officer, sees Beyond Paradise in the broader landscape of the Lauder brand’s evolution. He said the brand has managed to grow for 58 years because it always refused to subscribe to the doctrine of maturity, or the idea that it could not be relevant to the next generation. “It has continued being relevant not just to one generation, but to the broader spectrum. That is what this is.”