Byline: Laura Klepacki

NEW YORK — Coty is flexing its creative muscle.
As the millennium approaches, the company is determined to push forth in new directions with its advertising, in-store merchandising and product development, according to Eric Thoreux, president of Coty US.
Earlier this year, Coty hired Doug Toews, a beauty industry advertising veteran, for the new position of executive vice president of ideas and image, reporting to Peter Harf, Coty chairman. Toews’s imprint will be seen this fall in advertisements for Stetson, Adidas Moves, Dulce Vanilla, Isabella Rossellini’s Manifesto cosmetics and Rimmel makeup, a line currently available in the U.K. and China.
Coty’s goal is to make its products and images “modern, simple and elegant,” said Toews.
For Adidas Moves, the ads speak to action and athletics, while Stetson is targeted at a 90s-style outdoorsman — the ads feature a modern cowboy whose horse is a motorcycle.
As part of its new creative direction, Coty is looking to not only sharpen its advertising, but incorporate the ads’ messages at the point of sale, said Thoreux. The company has begun to use more demographic data to target its brands and to assist retailers in designing planograms best suited for their shoppers. In the U.S., Coty has been testing a new merchandising unit for fragrances that uses category management strategies. It is scheduled to roll out next year.
“We are analyzing consumer profiles and comparing them to store shoppers,” said Thoreux, noting that category management is a latecomer to fragrance departments. “The merchandiser is about restoring the magic in-store.”
Other promotional plans will begin to center on image building and will focus on one brand at a time, rather than across-the-board price promotions on Coty items, said Thoreux. Price, he noted, will still be a factor in promotions.
The mass fragrance market has been making a slow comeback after a few years of flat and declining sales. Coty and other leading manufacturers have focused efforts on building core brands, a strategy that seems to be working, noted Thoreux. Recently released sales data showed a category increase of 4 percent for the year ended Aug. 10, he added.
In its efforts for the future, Coty’s initiatives are all-encompassing, according to executives. In a symbolic gesture of its commitment to thinking outside the box, Coty is even redesigning its company stationery. Going forward, all business cards and letterhead will have rounded edges, and, depending upon the division, will have either dark blue, light blue or silver backing.
The marketing of fragrances and cosmetics has always been a creative pursuit. But according to Coty executives, other consumer products companies have begun to look for more “poetic” ways to market their wares. A prime example is the colorful IMac computer, said Toews. “No longer are computers just standard gray.”
As a beauty company, “we have to stay a step ahead,” said Thoreux.
The company also recognizes there is more cross-shopping than ever before. Its ideal is to present both mass and prestige items in equally attractive ways.
In addition to new advertising initiatives for both its existing and new introductions, Coty wants to develop new ways to experience fragrance and new packaging concepts. One possibility is a rubber container.
“This is a process,” said Toews, “We have to constantly innovate in everything we do.”