ITALY STILL WAITING FOR BOOM

Byline: Amy B. Barone

MILAN — Though vendors haven’t tired of launching new men’s products, in the Italian market, skin care for men is still in its infancy.
Retailers report that the average male client still borrows treatment from his wife — although, stores noted, younger men appear much more at ease with the idea of purchasing beauty products for themselves.
Operators of upscale Italian perfumeries also said that in general, men’s price points are too high, while investment in advertising and promotion for the category is too low. As a result, many fear the mass market remains a temptation for men.
As for fragrances, established brands like Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme, Christian Dior’s Fahrenheit and Lancaster’s Cool Water are still leading sales, joined by newer scents like Giorgio Armani’s Acqua di Gio Pour Homme and Chrome by Azzaro.
The upcoming launches seen as having the most promise are O de Lancome Pour Homme and the new Lanvin L’Homme. Other highly anticipated entries are Dior’s Dune for Men and a new Moschino.
Aramis Lab Series, Biotherm Homme and Shiseido’s Basala are the most prominent men’s treatment brands sold in perfumeries, while Diana de Silva is seeking to penetrate the category with more extensions to the seven-item Gianfranco Ferre Care For Man line. Delilla DiLazzaro, cosmetics buyer at the 15-door Cosulich Profumerie of Trieste, reports that sales have been level over the past two years, and she expects the same for 1997.
“It is a promising market with potential to grow,” she said. “We aim to create a more welcome environment in-store by setting up special corners for men with sales assistance.”
Lab Series by Aramis and Biotherm lead sales because of brand image and superior performance, DiLazzaro said: “Biotherm has slightly lower prices, but requests for Lab Series continue to grow.”
She finds that Basala and Fahrenheit are harder to sell because men prefer treatments not identified with fragrances. Basic products, such as aftershaves without alcohol, shaving gels and moisturizers, drive sales because of their simplicity and ease of use. In the fragrance category, fashion exerts a big influence on the hottest scents. At Cosulich, CK One, Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme, Acqua di Gio Pour Homme, Fahrenheit, Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male, Laura Biagiotti’s Roma and Venezia and Cool Water are the top sellers.
“It is not enough that manufacturers decorate store windows and distribute samples; we need more in-store support,” said DiLazzaro, describing it as “modern merchandising strategies to make the shopping experience more fun for men.”
At the 51-door Douglas Profumerie of Verona, marketing manager Daniela Ziering reports that men’s treatment and fragrance sales grew slightly in 1996, although she didn’t furnish specific figures. She expects further growth this year, based on increased in-store promotions and product news.
Lab Series and Biotherm are the strongest-selling brands, with Lab Series’ Razor Burn Relief the most popular single item.
Ziering believes the perfumery ambience still intimidates men, who prefer supermarkets and pharmacies for beauty products.
“Men prefer self-service — in fact, our new store in Torino has a high male clientele because we eliminated counters and made shopping easier,” she said.
At Douglas, men are increasingly buying for themselves, Ziering said, yet the scarcity of ads and promotions is a problem for the category.
“We find that scents have become more of a seasonal purchase,” she said, although Acqua di Gio Pour Homme, supposedly a light, summer fragrance, was the year’s bestseller.
Best-selling men’s scents include Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme, Cool Water, Fahrenheit, CK One, Chrome, Sergio Tacchini Uomo, Chanel’s Egoiste Platinum, Versace’s The Dreamer and Replay.
“There’s a need for stronger advertising in the treatment category, but fragrance promotions are more than adequate and really help sales,” said Ziering.
Silvana Cartolano, cosmetics buyer at the Rinascente Group department store chain, reported that the men’s category grew about three percent in 1996, a figure that is expected to jump to five percent for this year.
“It’s a small market, but growing a bit,” she said. “Men seek reasonable prices and quality.”
Sales of the more mild-scented Biotherm are strongest in skin care, especially the aftershave balm and the anti-aging line.
She noted that Rinascente sells more women’s skin care to men than the specialized men’s lines, especially Clinique, Helena Rubinstein and Estee Lauder because of their light formulas and low fragrance content.
“Men, especially the single ones, want the latest news: vitamins, antioxidants and glycolic acid treatments,” Cartolano said.
Rinascente holds high expectations for O de Lancome Pour Homme, which is in stores, and Dune for Men, slated for a launch in late spring.
The leading fragrance brands are Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme, Fahrenheit and Calvin Klein’s men’s versions of Eternity and Obsession, while Blue Jeans is popular with a younger clientele.
At the Venice-based Coin department stores, cosmetics manager Paolo Calvi reports that the men’s category grew in the mid-single digits in 1996, although there’s no guarantee of similar growth this year.
“The treatment market needs to be better consolidated, and it’s clear that men borrow treatments from their wives,” he said. “Women purchase about 50 percent of men’s fragrances, whether for gifts or themselves, but men are still hesitant to approach perfumeries.”
Biotherm leads men’s skin care sales at the chain, although requests for anti-aging products are rare.
At the chain’s new store in Brescia, a 262-square-meter cosmetics section without counters includes a small men’s department with what was intended to be a more inviting merchandising layout for treatment, a category the store plans to boost.
According to Calvi, “The category needs fewer physical barriers and a larger product presence, on par with that in the mass market sector.”
Fragrance sales at Brescia are led by Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme, Fahrenheit, Acqua di Gio Pour Homme and Cool Water.
Although Coin awaits the arrival of O de Lancome and Lanvin L’Homme, Calvi hopes for solutions to two major problems: the decreasing average sales transaction and rampant fragrance discounting.
At the 18-door Boidi Profumerie of Torino, owner Nicola Boidi said the market is overpopulated, with too many brands competing for too few customers. However, the men’s category grew slightly in 1996, led by sales of Biotherm and Lab Series.
“Men are buying for themselves more and more — they like the open sell concept,” Boidi said.
The store’s top fragrances are Acqua di Gio Pour Homme, Armani Pour Homme, CK One, Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme, Fahrenheit and Guerlain’s Vetiver. “Cartier and Chanel have their special clientele,” Boidi added.

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