The business, generating an estimated 1.25 billion euros in wholesale revenues annually, has been on a steep growth trajectory for five years. And that’s expected to continue throughout this year due to a plethora of initiatives, including a further rollout of pop-ups and a heightened focus on China.
Sì Passione, positioned as a new chapter in the story of Sì, which ranks seventh among women’s prestige fragrances in Europe, was conceived in part to help reconnect with the U.S. consumer. It will be introduced starting at the end of this month in Europe with less of a patchouli woody juice than the original Sì scent from 2013.
“We added a vegetal note on top and heightened the floral heart,” Véronique Gautier, global president of Giorgio Armani Fragrances and Beauty, told WWD. “We brought in a lot of jasmine absolute, which is somewhat new vis-à-vis Sì, and heliotrope.”
Mane perfumer Julie Massé, who created Sì Passione, kept the cedarwood, vanilla and amber notes of the original Sì.
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Sì Passione’s packaging and advertising are infused with a hue of red that’s been used by Armani for the past year in its Box pop-up shop concept. “It was a way to reveal the playfulness of the brand, the strength of the brand,” said Gautier.
Sì Passione’s campaign features Cate Blanchett and was photographed by Tom Munro.
Outside of Europe, the perfume will launch exclusively with one yet-to-be-named retailer in the U.S. in April, followed by full national distribution there this fall. The rest of the world will get the scent in June save for China, which is to begin distribution toward the end of the year.
“In China we have a beautiful opportunity,” said Gautier. “I believe a lot in China, which will be our next conquest for fragrance.”
China is also where Armani will on Friday kick off the official launch of its beauty product sales on Tmall.
Over the past two years, the brand has been rolling out a new, more colorful merchandising concept coming in red, beige and black, in Asia and more recently in Europe, including Russia and Italy. France is up soon.
Industry sources expect Sì Passionne will rank in the top 15 U.S. women’s scents this year.
Armani has noted great success with its Box pop-ups, which serve as strong recruitment tools. Up to 80 percent of people who enter them are buying the brand’s beauty products for the first time, and 80 percent are Millennials, under 35 years of age.
In just 15 days Armani’s pop-up in Beijing generated more revenues than the brand’s top-selling door in China.
“In Europe, notably in France, [the pop-up] was an occasion to test service, the experience,” said Gautier. Part of that experience is digital, thanks to connected mirrors enabling people to e-mail their makeup sessions elsewhere.
The Box in London’s Covent Garden was kept running an extra three months, since the response to it was so strong.
Up next for the concept is to open in U.S. department stores, and travel retail in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, among other markets.
“We’re a brand ultrastrong in travel retail,” said Gautier, referring to the channel that represents one of Armani’s top three markets.
A new generation of Box is in the works and expected to launch in a year, while more freestanding stores for Armani beauty are slated, such as in South Korea.
The rise of red and the Box concept coincided with the mounting importance of makeup for Armani. “It’s as if the brand passed from black to red in five years,” said Gautier.
In 2017, the Armani to Go Cushion had huge success particularly in Asia, the executive said. It is expected this year that the cushion could become the bestseller in Armani’s foundation franchise.
The breakdown of the brand’s sales from products for men versus those for women has altered significantly over the past five years, as well. An estimated 60 percent of Armani’s beauty business is rung up by women’s fragrances, makeup and skin care, while 40 percent stem from men’s products. Five years ago the split was practically the inverse.
Armani’s makeup and skin care, led by Crema Nera, and sold in 1,200 points of sale, combined represent more than one-third of Armani’s total fragrance and beauty business today, according to estimates.
The brand keeps bolstering its blockbuster men’s fragrances, which include Acqua di Giò and Code, which rank first and fifth in the U.S., respectively. Armani places third in the prestige men’s segment worldwide.
For Acqua di Giò, for instance, the company last year launched on YouTube a documentary-type series called Scent of Life, which was conceived to compliment the brand’s traditional advertising and tap into the interests of possible consumers.
Each runs for two minutes and has at its core some rapport with water and nature. The first episode, linked to the original Acqua di Giò scent, features professional kite-surfer Tom Court. It came out in March and has accrued about five million views.
The second episode, released in September, showcases speed skater Joey Mantia. That nods to Acqua di Giò Profumo and boasts 2.3 million views. And a third installment is on the docket for March related to a new scent, Acqua di Giò Absolu, which will launch at the end of January in Europe and with full U.S. distribution in April.
It was created by Firmenich perfumer Alberto Morillas to embody the union of water and wood. He used marine notes and patchouli exclusively and sustainably sourced from Guatemala, where Armani set up an ONG.
The cap on Acqua di Giò Absolu’s bottle is made of ash wood, which was also sourced in an ethical fashion.
Featured in the new scent’s campaign is Jason Morgan. The print ad was photographed by Matthew Brookes and François Rousseau directed the film.
The Sì and Acqua di Giò Absolu scents are expected to grow their respective franchises by an estimated 20 percent sales-wise, sources said.
For Armani, whose fragrance and beauty is licensed to L’Oréal, 2018 is a big year for fragrance, with sales growth in the category projected to outpace the market by four or five times, according to sources. The brand will continue the acceleration of its beauty business, spurred by foundation and lipstick.