NEW SCENTS ARE STILL TOPS AS SOUTHEAST CREEPS AHEAD
Byline: Brenda Lloyd
ATLANTA — Newness is the driving force behind men’s fragrances in the Southeast, contributing to modest, single-digit growth at department stores.
Another category with modest growth, especially in urban areas, is men’s skin care. The leading brand is Aramis Lab Series, followed closely by Ralph Lauren’s Polo Sport Face Fitness and even Clinique for Men, which is carried at the Clinique counter in cosmetics departments.
Sharron Williams, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Proffitt’s Inc., said, “It is definitely a viable [category], but men’s skin care is not an easy build. We know this is the only way to develop a loyal male customer. It is the department store’s point of difference with a focus on service.”
Men, particularly young men, are buying more fragrances and skin care products for themselves, a big change over the past five to 10 years. Mike Lewis, divisional vice president for cosmetics at Rich’s, explained, “Men are more open-minded. This has been building every year for several years, but in the past five years, it has truly become a self-purchase product.”
Retailers listed a variety of bestsellers, but Tommy is number one in many stores. Proffitt’s Williams said there has been “phenomenal demand” for the product, and Rich’s Lewis said Tommy “continues to be incredibly powerful, with double-digit increases every month.”
When Rich’s launched Tommy Girl last fall, it went straight to number one in the women’s category, which also helped keep the focus on Tommy in men’s, Lewis said.
However, retailers do complain there isn’t enough newness in men’s. Lewis pointed out that Rich’s is launching three men’s fragrances this spring and two in the fall, the women’s side will have seven new this spring and four in the fall, and there will be new fragrances from women’s cosmetics vendors Prescriptives and Clinique.
Burdines, based in Miami, has nothing planned for fall in men’s and only two new fragrances this spring — Nautica Competition and Diesel — according to Stacy DeMeo, merchandising vice president for cosmetics.
DeMeo said the men’s category is having “modest” sales increases this spring, and she expects more of the same for the year. While she lamented a lack of new scents, she said, “There is still some excitement left with relatively new brands like Tommy.”
Also, she said, the men’s treatment area is growing, but not by leaps and bounds. “Men are becoming more involved in it,” she said. “The baby boomers are getting a little older, and they’re concerned about those crow’s feet around their eyes, and there’s more awareness that they need protection” from the sun.
The most popular skin care products at Burdines are alpha-hydroxy acid items, moisturizers and sun protection. The best-selling brands are Aramis Lab Series, Clinique for Men and Polo Sport.
Burdines is launching Chanel’s Technique, a skin care line for men, later this spring.
New and classic products are bestsellers in the men’s fragrance area. DeMeo listed the top performers as Polo Sport, Curve by Liz Claiborne, Aramis, Calvin Klein’s Eternity and Obsession For Men and Tommy.
Both Aramis and Obsession have been around for a while, she pointed out. Highly exclusive, prestige brands, such as L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme by Issey Miyake, Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme and Donna Karan’s DK Men, also are strong sellers.
DeMeo said Burdines undertakes a lot of in-store events to create excitement, and they have been successful in building volume. Events include visiting specialists who do demonstrations with the products to provide some “theater” and create “excitement,” she said.
Another was an event by Tommy Hilfiger that featured a fragrance computer men could play with. “We do fun things, but at the same time, we educate them,” DeMeo said.
She said she believes more men are buying their toiletries themselves, especially younger men, but women still are the predominant purchasers.
Proffitt’s Williams, who oversees the Proffitt’s, McRae’s, Younkers, Parisian and Herberger’s divisions, said her men’s toiletries business grew in low-to-mid-single digits last year, and she expects the same for 1997.
Sales will be driven by Tommy and by new lines such as Michael Jordon Cologne, CK Be, Curve, Nautica’s Competition, Xeryus Rouge by Givenchy, Opium Pour Homme and Realm.
The ongoing success of Tommy, she continued, is “staggering.” Sales now comprise 16 to 17 percent of men’s sales. The master brands of Klein and Lauren continue to own a “huge share of the business,” she added, and newness is adding incremental business. Williams continued, “I never cease to be amazed at how Paul Sebastian continues to top their last gift-with-purchase success or how Aramis continues to show increases, despite its maturity.”
Rich’s launched Curve and Opium Pour Homme last fall. Curve, Lewis reported, is “absolutely phenomenal.” Opium hasn’t performed as well as expected, judging it by the success of Opium for Women, he continued, but it has delivered solid sales.
Hugo from Hugo Boss, distributed by Giorgio Beverly Hills and listed among Rich’s top 10 fragrances, also has done well, and Lewis expects it to take off again this fall when Hugo for Women is launched.
Currently, fragrance sales are up by single digits over this time last year, and Lewis said he would be pleased to get a single-digit increase for the year.
Rich’s skin care business is driven by Aramis, Lewis continued. “They’ve done an outstanding job that’s growing by leaps and bounds.”
Cathy Bradford, fragrance buyer at Stone & Thomas, Charleston, W. Va., said her men’s business, driven by new fragrances targeted to young men, is outperforming her women’s business.
Sales, up 5 percent in 1996, are up 6 percent this year so far and were up 12 percent in March. She expects the year to end with another 5 percent increase.
“New fragrances are driving sales,” she explained. “People come into the department and they want to see something new. That’s why these companies have to put so much money into new lines.”
She said if the men’s business is healthy, it will be half of what women’s fragrances is. When Bradford joined Stone & Thomas 15 years ago, men’s was one-third of women’s.
Her men’s business is led by Tommy, Curve, CK Be and Hugo. Launches this fall will include Lauder’s Pleasures for Men and Claiborne Sport, and both should generate a lot of excitement, she said.
But while men’s fragrances are doing well at Stone & Thomas, men’s skin care products are nowhere. Only Clinique offers some men’s treatment.
Reasoned Bradford, “It seems to be more prevalent in metropolitan areas where men are more aware of the need to care for their skin.”