COLOGNE, Germany — It’s a numbers game for 4711. The more than 200-year-old iconic German eau de cologne brand, owned by Mäurer & Wirtz, is making a date to move into the future. July 4, 2011, written 4.7.11 in the European style, will mark the official launch of the company’s 4711 Nouveau Cologne, aimed at younger consumers with a taste for the traditional. 

The new scent has the tag line “I feel Nouveau!” and a fresh color scheme that keeps 4711’s regal turquoise with red highlights but swaps the gilt look of the original for silver and white. Packaging maintains the classic shape of the Molanus bottle, used by the brand since 1822, and introduces a PET version for line extension items.  Nouveau Cologne has notes of black currant, peony and sandalwood, and features evodia fruit, a berry used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The Nouveau Cologne line will be in both mass and selective distribution, priced about 20 percent above the original 4711. An eau de cologne comes in 50-, 100- and 150-ml. sizes (for 14.95, 22.95 and 29.95 euros, or $21.35, $32.78 and $42.78, respectively). The range also includes a 75-ml. deodorant spray, 150-ml. body spray, 200-ml. shower gel and a body lotion in a warming formulation dubbed body sorbet — each priced at 9.95 euros, or $14.21.

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All dollar figures have been converted at current exchange.  

The brand also has a revamped logo and a new champion — 4711 global marketing manager Jessica Bönisch, who joined Stolberg-based Mäurer & Wirtz at the beginning of 2011 after spending 10 years at Unilever in Hamburg, Rome and India. She heads one of three new strategic divisions  formed this February — the other two are beauty and prestige. Bönisch has high hopes — and high predictions — for her first big launch. “I am sure that — not in one year but in the coming years — (Nouveau Cologne) will be as important as the original,” she insisted.

While 4711 is considered unisex, Nouveau Cologne’s marketing kicks off in a decidedly feminine fashion. Print and TV ads were filmed in an underwater studio with willowy models clad in stylish clothes and killer heels striking submerged poses. 

 

It’s clear that the brand could use a little spring in its step. 4711 original eau de cologne is trending towards decline — clearly tied to the age of its current consumers. In Germany, nearly 90 percent of 4711 users are over the age of 60. 4711 Acqua Colonia, the selective aromatherapy-influenced scent series launched in 2009 has driven strong sales for the company; a line extension of bath and body products was just added.But its sheen hasn’t really worn off on good old 4711 — and Nouveau Cologne might not resuscitate it either, admits  Bönisch. “What is important is that the brand as such is going to be here in the next 200 years, and maybe even more important than it is today,” she said. “So the objective is that whatever we do, we do for the 4711 brand as a whole.”

One sunny thing on the horizon is Spain — the warm country has a strong affinity for eaux de cologne, with men, women and even babies wearing the scents. Spain is even getting an early launch of Nouveau Cologne this month, to match up with local summer holidays.   Bönisch says France and Italy are also growing against the trend, and suggests that traditional and affordable 4711 is a comforting consumer symbol in these uncertain times. Her division is also broadening its reach into South America.

Industry sources estimate Nouveau Cologne could generate first-year global retail sales of 12 million euros, or $17.1 million at current exchange.

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