NEW YORK — The success of Duane Reade’s Look Boutique has done more than catapult the chain to the top ranks of drugstore cosmetics retailing; it also serves as an incubator to generate interest in the brands stocked there.

This story first appeared in the July 15, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

A case in point is the Demeter Fragrance Library, a brand that rocketed to fame in the Nineties at specialty stores, including Henri Bendel and Sephora, and then got lost in the celebrity fragrance frenzy.

Known for sometimes offbeat single-scent formulas, including Dirt and Gin & Tonic, Demeter was eventually acquired by entrepreneur Mark Crames, who is expanding the brand in new directions, including drugstore chains like Duane Reade as well as international markets. Crames also aims to help Demeter break out of its cologne only roots to roll on perfume oils.

“Demeter has developed a cult following, but it is time for the brand to fully realize its potential and be introduced to a wider audience who can find their personal scent,” said Crames, Demeter’s chief executive officer. “We are entering a new phase.”

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The library of scents spans more than 250 options, allowing retailers the opportunity to customize the mix, Crames added. The wide variety also offers each international market the chance to select what works best in each country. For example, what is popular in China is often different than France. There’s also a choice for every age — candy flavors are great for tweens while Demeter Naturals appeal to sophisticated consumers, said Crames.

At one time under the founders, Christopher Brosius and Christopher Gable, there was a freestanding store that was used as a testing ground for products and scents. Now, Duane Reade is Demeter’s flagship retailer, where it can showcase the full lineup. Their partnership opened up the opportunity for executives from across the globe to see the range. On the docket is expansion into China, entry into South America and Europe. This adds to Demeter’s existing business in Japan, France, Germany and England.

In America, the success in Duane Reade has encouraged parent company Walgreens to plant the Demeter concept in its stores, too. Walgreens is working to integrate elements of Duane Reade’s Look Boutique into as many as 600 of its stores. The full Demeter experience also is featured in Duane Reade’s Manhattan flagship located at 40 Wall Street, which opened last week to rave reviews.

One goal Crames has is to find more ways to engage shoppers in the fragrance experience. In Japan, he said Demeter will be presented in a shop within a shop format.

Beyond expanding its doors, Demeter is bringing a new delivery system to customers who want a longer-lasting product via a new roll on perfume. Available in the traditional library as well as new choices such as Plum Blossom and Barbados Cherry, the roll ons retail for $10 for 0.29 oz. Rite Aid is among the first to jump on the new formulation.

For the future, international and domestic growth is on the agenda, as is more use of social media and blogging to get personal with fans. The interaction will help Demeter create new products, said Crames. “We are always looking for that new scent that will engage our customers and take them back to an experience that will make them smile every time they smell it.”

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