FALL LOOKS BUSY IN SOUTHWEST

Byline: Rusty Williamson

DALLAS — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Southwest fragrance counters. If thoughts of mistletoe and holly berries come to mind, though, think again.
Instead, envision a blizzard of new fragrances for women and men that are set to launch this fall — just in time for the all-important holiday bonanza.
The new scents join a medley of perennial classics that continue to lure consumers, and retailers think both the old and new will see lots of action; sales are planned ahead by low to mid-single digits, in most cases. Despite the projected gains, several retailers complained business could be better, specifically citing the impact on the fragrance industry of diverted goods and mass outlets.
“The fragrance market has been affected by diverters and mass distributors,” said Sharen Turney, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for cosmetics and accessories at Neiman Marcus, Dallas. “In the fragrance industry, we used to be able to launch a fragrance and get some mileage out of it,” she continued. “Now it’s more difficult to build a fragrance because consumers are lured to move on to something else.”
Neiman’s plans for fragrance sales to gain by low single digits through holiday. “Fragrances are always a good gift item,” said Turney. “And though there aren’t as many new launches as last year, we still feel it’s going to be a strong season — including a big classics business.”
New launches for women at Neiman’s include Quelque Rose, 212 by Carolina Herrera and Clinique’s Happy.
For men, the launch pad includes Jaipur Pour Homme from Boucheron, My Self from Acqua di Parma, Armani’s Acqua di Gio Pour Homme, Jil Sander for Men and Lalique Pour Homme.
Current women’s bestsellers are Annick Goutal, Thierry Mugler’s Angel, Quelques Fleurs, Bulgari, 24 Faubourg from Hermes, Issey Miyake and Chanel’s fragrance lineup.
For men, top sellers include Aramis, Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male, Cartier’s Pasha, Bulgari, Hermes and Acqua di Parma.
Neiman’s will promote fragrances this fall and holiday via its catalogs, fragrance weeks and custom gift-basket promotions, among other vehicles.
Home fragrances also are a burgeoning business at Neiman’s, according to Turney, citing the popularity of aromatherapies and scented candles from Donna Karan, Boucheron, Bulgari, Annick Goutal, Rigaud, Diptyque and its own private label collection, Neiman Marcus Summer Fragrance by Aromatique.
Slatkin & Co., an interior-design firm and home fragrance vendor, honors some of its favorite interior-design clients by naming fragrances in their honor. Elton John is the latest.
Neiman’s introduced the “Elton” candle in August. The entertainer personally selected for his eponymous candle a scent that blends a medley of hyacinth, freesia, jasmine and rose. The candle retails for $54, and a portion of the proceeds will go directly to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
“Many fragrance lines offer candles or fragrances for the home,” said Turney. “Customers really love them.”
J.C. Penney Co. also knows the value of fragrance marketing, and it, too, will herald fragrances this fall and holiday with Sunday newspaper inserts, television and radio advertisements and gift baskets and other in-store promotions.
Penney’s is currently charting single-digit gains for women’s and men’s fragrance categories, said Jan Mikol, merchandise manager for cosmetics and accessories, adding that women’s fragrance sales are slightly ahead of men’s. “Customers are reacting to gift-with-purchases, in-store visuals and promotions,” she noted. “Our goal is to build excitement in our departments so we can attract customers into our cosmetics area.”
Best-selling women’s fragrances at Penney’s include Chanel No. 5, Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds, Giorgio’s Red, Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflowers, Privilege and Halston.
Fragrances checking quickly for men include Lagerfeld and Davidoff’s Cool Water.
Barbara/Jean in Little Rock, Ark., a women’s specialty store, takes a proactive stance in marketing its fragrance collections, said Annette Connaway, cosmetics manager.
“We call people on the phone to get them into the store to shop our apparel — and our beauty department,” she explained.
Fragrance sales are ahead about 10 percent at Barbara/Jean, and that pace is expected to continue through holiday. Best-selling scents include Bulgari, Chanel and Escada. Specialty and department stores aren’t the only ones tapping into consumers’ perpetual love of fragrances.
So are high-end drugstores with big beauty departments such as Post Oak Pharmacy, Houston. “Customers love really personalized service, especially when it comes to beauty,” said Richard Spence, co-owner. “They call us and ask advice on a new fragrance for themselves or to give as a gift. “
Bestsellers for women are Chanel No. 5, Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium, Oscar de la Renta’s Oscar, Guerlain’s Shalimar, Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps, Roger & Gallet, J. Floris, Givenchy’s Amarige, Halston, Boucheron and Bijan.
Men’s top performers are Escada Pour Homme, Burberry’s, Ralph Lauren’s Polo, Aramis, Lagerfeld, St. John’s Bay Rhum, Caswell-Massey, Royall and J. Floris.
Fragrance sales at the store are ahead by at least 10 percent over last year, said Spence, and similar gains are planned for holiday.

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