NEW YORK — How many ways can you wear a cowboy hat?
Coty Beauty U.S. hopes to find out as it gives a swift cowboy-boot kick to its Stetson franchise.
The 24-year-old logo is in need of a dusting off, according to Coty executives who hope the overhaul will lift sales from $55 million in retail sales in 2004 to $94 million in 2006.
“The Stetson brand has tremendously strong name recognition; however, it is always important to continue to add newness and excitement to a brand,” said Marsha Brooks, vice president of marketing/business development for Coty Beauty U.S. “This shows we are willing to invest in existing brands.”
The next frontier for Stetson includes the launch of Stetson Black for men this May and a mass-celebrity entry starring Shania Twain (see related story opposite page).
Texas-born hunk Matthew McConaughey, who was tapped late last year to represent Stetson, will again star in advertising for Stetson Black.
Stetson Black is welcomed by retailers — ranging from behemoths like Wal-Mart to regionals such as Lewis Drug — that crave something to revitalize the mass-fragrance business. Men’s fragrance sales were down 0.7 percent for the 52-week period ended Oct. 31, 2004, according to Information Resources Inc. (excluding Wal-Mart). Women’s were off 5.6 percent for that same period based on IRI data. There’s been a dearth of new mass-market launches in the past year, and the premium department-store brands are not delivering the dollars retailers need to expand fragrance sales.
“We need some of the excitement you see in department stores to trickle to us,” said Mark Griffin, president and chief executive officer of Lewis Drug. Coty Beauty U.S. president John Galantic said Coty is working with retailers to “elevate” mass fragrances. “We’ve seen great strides in stores with more department-store touches such as banners, loop videos and more sampling.”
Buyers are salivating over the marketing muscle Coty plans behind Stetson Black. “They are really spending to get this going,” said one large chain buyer. It is estimated $3 million will be allocated to print ads featuring Matthew McConaughey. Another $13 million dollar media budget will be put behind the entire house of Stetson portfolio.
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Stetson Black is designed to be both a more sophisticated choice for existing Stetson wearers as well as a scent to entice non-Stetson fans, according to Sarah Irby, senior marketing manager, Coty Beauty U.S. “It appeals to the other side of the Stetson man,” said Irby.
But Stetson Black also could help Coty get men who never considered themselves a cowboy type of guy. “This is modern and sophisticated and can get a younger audience,” said Stephen Brodeck, group marketing director. Since Stetson is a mature brand, it tends to skew older than the age group targeted with the new scent.
Stetson Black is a blend of warm, masculine notes including sandalwood and spice, infused with notes of fresh woods and liquid suede. The collection will be available in a .75-ounce cologne spray priced at $11.50, a 1.5-ounce cologne spray for $17.00 and a 2-ounce aftershave priced at $15.50. The box accentuates the position as a special-occasion scent, thanks to a sleek black-and-gold package.
According to Brodeck, Coty views Stetson Black as a new launch rather than a flanker to Stetson. This isn’t the first time Coty has extended the Stetson name. A few years after Stetson’s debut, Lady Stetson rode into town. There were other efforts to appeal to younger men in 1996 with Stetson Sierra. Coty added Stetson Country in 1998 for men who liked the outdoors but didn’t necessarily identify with cowboys. Two years ago, Coty targeted edgier and younger men with Stetson Untamed, a scent that has built sales of about $15 million, according to industry sources. The company doesn’t expect Stetson Black to erode that base.
The launches have nudged Stetson’s volume, but not to the point the new initiatives are expected to achieve. Within seven years of Stetson’s debut, the collection amassed sales of $100 million, according to IRI, which then included sales at Wal-Mart stores. While Stetson is still a mainstay of mass-fragrance departments, sales are half of what they were in its heyday. According to IRI, Coty Stetson shaving lotion, cologne and talc for men had sales of $9.9 million through October 31, 2004, down almost 12 percent. Not content with that trend, Coty is going into action by adding celebrity power. “We’ve had success with celebrities, and we’ve developed different brands for ages starting with Mary-Kate and Ashley,” said Galantic of the Olsen twins’ scent. Coty has also hit high notes with Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez.
Already Coty is seeing positive results from the TV ads featuring McConaughey, which was shot by Oscar award-nominated director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. The company said that one out of every three broad distribution sets sold at Christmas was a Stetson set.
Coty’s moves to burnish the image of Stetson coincide with the J.B. Stetson Company’s own efforts to elevate the master brand, including new and more hip apparel, furniture, leather goods, music compilations, footwear and eyewear. Already the more stylish hats are getting upscale editorial coverage, and products are featured at Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. A retail store is planned on Bleecker Street across from Ralph Lauren later this year to further enhance the brand’s image with the fashion set.
The efforts to reinvigorate the Stetson collection, buyers said, will stop Stetson from riding into the mass-fragrance sunset.