JOURNEY: A CASE STUDY
NEW YORK — It’s only fitting that Mary Kay calls its latest fragrance Journey. The company has made a significant departure from normal procedures to develop the scent.
“Two-and-a-half years ago, we did a study and learned that Mary Kay customers only spent 8 percent of their fragrance dollars on our scents,” said Emily Dalton, director of fragrance. “We also learned that our fragrances were perceived as upper-mass-market or low-prestige-market products, whereas our skin care and color items were perceived as mid-prestige products. We saw an opportunity to elevate the category.”
Fragrance is about a $100 million business at wholesale for Mary Kay. In addition to Journey, to be introduced in mid-August, the firm has nine fragrances, including two for men.
Dalton said the latest entry targets two tiers of women — core Mary Kay users who are 30 to 54 years old and potential customers from 18 to 29.
Set to roll out internationally in mid-August, the line is expected to generate $50 million at retail its first year, she said. Journey Eau de Parfum is $36 for a 1.7-oz. bottle, Moisturizing Body Veil is $22 for an 8-oz. bottle and Silkening Shower Gel is $20 for an 8-oz. bottle.
Instead of developing scent concepts based on trendy notes, the company took a new tack.
“We decided to focus on the wants and needs of the global customer,” Dalton said.
Enter Mark D’Allessio, president of The Ingenious Mind, a New York company that studies consumer habits and plans “emotional strategies for brands.” The firm has consulted on several other high-profile scents, including Chanel’s Allure and Thierry Mugler’s Angel.
“We look at life-scapes and product-scapes to determine need gaps,” he said.
From a roster of Mary Kay users and consultants, Dalton and D’Allessio chose 72 from the U.S. and 200 from abroad to collaborate on the initial concept. These women provided lists of words, collages, stories, even screenplays about what they sought in a scent.
“We found out that women today want what we call the four I’s — invigoration, indulgence, intelligence and individuality,” D’Allesio said. “She’s saying, ‘Elevate my mood and I’ll do the rest. Help me access something already in me. This is about being myself, not some fantasy.’ “
Using the feedback, Dalton and D’Allessio charted seven fragrance moods. The first one they decided to go with eventually became Journey.
“It is about personal sensuousness, resonance with one’s inner self and private privilege,” Dalton said. “We took the idea and developed a 3D image of the woman behind the fragrance.”
In a written brief, backed with a slide show, the company presented leading oil houses with the challenge of creating the scent.
“The brief was unique for us because we gave no notes to the houses,” said Tom Pampinella, chief creative adviser of global purfumery for Mary Kay. “We relied on the creative artistry of the perfumers and their expertise of the market.”
The Journey woman was described this way to perfumers:
She is a young Martha Stewart without any of the pretentiousness.
She creates a home environment to be lived in, not to be a showplace.
She is genuinely committed to those closest to her. The man in her life is a lover, a friend and an equal. Her children are unique individuals who will realize their own goals.
She works in a creative field and is likely an editor, an illustrator or a designer.
She feels equally at home at the symphony or a soccer game.
She is a natural beauty who is comfortable and confident with how she looks, whatever her age.
Once the houses submitted their scents, bottles and packaging concepts, Mary Kay conducted a second survey, using a different set of 75 U.S. and 200 foreign women.
“Half of the test group received the scents first and the other half got the concept materials first,” D’Allesio explained. “Once they wore the scent for a few days or got used to the concept, then we introduced the other part. That way, we not only got feedback on what scent they liked, but what box, what bottle, what color and what name they felt worked with it.”
The winning scent was developed by perfumer Annie Buzantian of Firmenich. It features top notes of East Hampton peony, watercress and ice mint; middle notes of English heritage rose, white sampaquita, flox, wild freesia and water lily, and base notes of apricot musk and beachwood.
The crystal bottle, made in France by Sainte Gobains Desjonqueres, is heavy and fits easily into a woman’s palm.
A textured yellow box — accented with interlocking gold and silver bands representing infinity — is intended to convey warmth. The inside of the box is blue and features the tag line, “Life is yours to explore.”
For the first time, the company will advertise. The Journey ad image features a woman standing on the beach by herself. The yellow sand and blue water tie in with the box colors. At the moment, the image is set to appear in fall issues of Vogue, Glamour and Allure magazines and in the next edition of Beauty magazine. It also will appear in 10 million direct-mail scented brochures and on shopping bags in October.
Other ancillary products are in the works, as is another women’s fragrance.
“We’ve fully fleshed out the next concept, which we plan to launch sometime in 1998,” Dalton said.