Shakira’s hips might not lie, but can they help shake up sales for a new fragrance she’s launching in conjunction with Puig in September?
This story first appeared in the July 30, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
S by Shakira, will enter — simultaneously — more than 15,000 midtier department, drug and mass stores — a move the singer described as “democratic.”
“My feeling is that personal care and beauty should not only be effortless but accessible for everyone,” said Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll. She spoke via telephone to WWD after her performance at Premios Juventud in Miami en route to Europe.
The launch mirrors the multidistribution channel strategy Puig has used for its highly successful Antonio Banderas franchise. Industry sources expect S by Shakira to reach $35 million to $40 million in full first-year retail sales.
Shakira, who has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, is in the limelight, coming off splashy performances at the kickoff and closing ceremonies for the World Cup, where she sang “Waka Waka,” which became an international number-one hit. Her U.S. tour will start in September, offering Puig ample sample and promotional opportunities with thousands of fans at each venue, including Madison Square Garden here.
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Shakira is Puig’s second celebrity fragrance franchise, one that José Manuel Albesa, chief brand officer of Puig, believes will also develop into a multiproduct brand following in the example of Banderas. “We have plans long term; first we want to concentrate on this and do it right,” he said.
Like Banderas, Shakira — who was born in Colombia but also has Lebanese roots — has a strong following with Latin consumers, but also crossover appeal. Her likability is expected to transcend ethnic groups and ages, according to Puig. There are now seven scents under the Banderas logo and, despite big launches from names such as Tim McGraw, Banderas is the number-two celebrity house in men’s for mass, drug and food sales, according to industry tracking data provided by Puig.
Many celebrities are said to have a big imprint on the final product, and Albesa said Shakira was “extremely hands-on” and knew exactly what she wanted.
Shakira likened the process to composing a tune. “Like a song, a perfume has different notes which together are the harmony,” Shakira said. “I’m very picky. Some fragrances are too strong,” she said, adding that layering notes is like adding instruments to compositions. “I’ve always dreamed about coming up with a fragrance I could enjoy and share with others.” She selected Puig because she was familiar with the company and felt they could “create a fragrance based on my taste.”
There’s no shortage of singers with fragrances these days, admitted Didier Maine de Biran, general manager of Puig USA. “What makes this stand out is how involved she was. The key difference is she has the knowledge of what she wants and really wants to share it with her fans. She’s involved. She’s committed,” he said. “And it is just a great fragrance that stands on its own.”
Shakira explained that from her youth she knew she liked notes such as chocolate with strawberries, a baby’s skin and the sweetness of honey. “It was her reaction when we mixed blotters in jasmine, sandalwood and vanilla that worked for her,” recalled Vanita Sabnani, vice president of marketing for Puig USA. The end scent is a concoction of bright jasmine, sandalwood and a base of a fusion of resins such as benzoin, an amber accord and vanilla. “I hope people will feel they are sharing my essence,” added Shakira.
To introduce S by Shakira, Puig took over a Manhattan town house and segregated out the notes in three different rooms. As a final stop on the journey, the end scent was presented.
The attention to making S by Shakira different stretches beyond the juice. The bottle is unique, and retailers said it was upscale for a mass launch, thanks to high-quality cut glass. Shakira desired a special “gift” to consumers, which is reflected in an S symbol that hangs as a charm from the bottle’s closure. The outer box was designed to reflect light with gold accents that buyers hope will attract consumers at point of sale. “So many boxes look alike,” said one top drugstore buyer. “We think this sticks out.”
While the box doesn’t have Shakira’s image, a launch sleeve on S by Shakira does have a photo to note her cooperation with the scent. Puig has put in great effort to offer retailers myriad displays that fit needs. “We have really taken retailers’ needs as far as in-store into consideration and worked to give them displays that help them improve the fragrance experience,” said Ambika Kumar, brand manager lifestyle and celebrities for Puig USA, during an earlier sampling of the scent. S by Shakira will retail for $35 per 1.7-oz. bottle; $28 per 1 oz., and $17 for a 0.5-oz. bottle.
Puig is gearing up for a true 360-degree ad and marketing campaign, engaging JumboTron displays, taxi ads and full social-media outreach that will start at the end of September, according to Sabnani. Print ads will launch in the fourth quarter with the first placing in the September issue of Vogue; TV spots are planned for the holidays. Sabnani believes there is a huge gift opportunity. “When you give a gift, you give something of yourself and that’s a big goal of Shakira’s. We think this is reflected in this project,” Sabnani said. “And we have aggressive sampling, and if you get people to try this, they will buy it.”
Puig hopes S by Shakira can help keep the glimmer of hope growing in women’s mass fragrances. Sales for the 52-week period ended June 12, actually notched up 1.8 percent in food, drug and mass stores including Wal-Mart, according to the The Nielsen Co., from $675.3 million last year to $687.7 million this year. Buyers hope launches such as S, as well as other prestige fragrances adding mass distribution will fuel a sales resurgence.