Byline: Pete Born

NEW YORK — What’s in a name? Hermes is about to find out, when it reintroduces its eight-year-old Eau de Cologne men’s scent under a new moniker — Eau d’Orange Verte.
The French company will launch the new version of the fragrance next month in the company’s tight, exclusive distribution of 150 doors in the U.S., which includes 10 Hermes boutiques.
The fragrance, a citrus, woody fresh formulation, is sold to both men and women, but is merchandised at men’s fragrance bars in most stores. It ranks as the company’s top-selling men’s scent, ahead of the 1986 entry, Bel Ami, and Equipage, which was launched in 1980.
Overall, the newly renamed brand ranks third in dollar sales behind two women’s scents: 24 Faubourg, launched in 1995, and the 1961 women’s scent Caleche. Moreover, it is second in unit sales behind Faubourg. Hermes has eight fragrances in total.
Company officials do not quote sales figures, but industry sources estimate that Eau de Cologne has been doing about $1.5 million a year at retail in the company’s tiny U.S. distribution. As the newly renamed Eau d’Orange Verte, the men’s scent is expected to hit $2 million.
In addition to bestowing a name on the product, the company also updated its packaging by putting a white edging on the outer box and deepening the orange coloration of the carton.
Marjorie Saide, fragrance director, who joined Hermes three years ago, noted that the men’s scent has been a success, though it had a lack of focus — hence the new name. “I thought it needed something to give it lift and attention. It looks good on a shelf.”
The name is changing, but the pricing remains the same. The opening price point of the eight-item line is $50 for a 1.6-oz. spray.
The rechristening will be promoted with a campaign of scented mailers around Father’s Day. During Fragrance Week in early June, the window of the Hermes’s boutique in New York will be decorated with an orange tree design made out of bottles.
Saide noted that the Paris-based parent company is working on a new men’s fragrance, and it may be ready by November or December. If it is done this year, the fragrance could be introduced in the Hermes boutiques in the U.S. and rolled out to its specialty and department store distribution in February.
In the meantime, the company continues to develop 24 Faubourg.
The women’s scent, which did an estimated $5.5 million at retail last year in the U.S. after bowing in January 1996. Bath products were added that spring.
Saide said she is a strong believer in providing newness every year. So this year, Hermes will be adding two stockkeeping units to Faubourg — a body cream and a jar of bath salts.
The 6.5-oz. body cream will retail for $120 a jar, and the same-size jar of bath salts will be priced at $100.
The products will be added early next month to take advantage of the promotional hoopla around Mother’s Day, which is May 11.
On the retail front, Hermes is opening two new boutiques. One is located in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., and will open on July 15. The following month, a 17,000-square-foot unit will open on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

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