LACOSTE SEEKS TO GIVE SALES A BOOSTER SHOT

Byline: Sarah Raper

PARIS — For the launch of a new men’s scent called Booster, Lacoste has taken a fresh look at its marketing components — starting with the crocodile. The brand has made its trademark reptile more playful and more colorful, with a bright red tongue and a touch of a smile. The crocodile is wrapped around the box in such a way that retailers can position the packages to create a parade of crocodiles, turning the boxes into a merchandising tool. Booster hits shelves in continental Europe and the Mideast on April 15 and then rolls out to the UK, Asia and Latin America. The North American launch is scheduled for 1997. Edith Touati, assistant general manager for Jean Patou Parfums and Lacoste, said the company wanted to wait until Lacoste’s newest U.S. marketing efforts for its apparel kicked in before launching Booster there.
In May, Lacoste is starting a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign for its clothing, to rebuild its image as a status symbol for upscale consumers.
Currently, the Lacoste signature scent, introduced in 1984, is the brand’s leading product. Land, launched in 1991, never took off, and Touati and Lacoste international marketing director Brigitte Lacaze said she thought the marketing concept, which played down the crocodile, was too distant from Lacoste’s traditional sports positioning. Patou, the parent of Lacoste, is privately held and executives declined to give sales figures. However, sources project French wholesale volume at $5 million (25 million francs) for Booster in 1996, compared with $12 million (60 million francs) for the original Lacoste last year in France, its largest market.
Booster is the company’s attempt to regain lost share in markets like Germany, where the Lacoste scent has been challenged by newer, local introductions. Like the outer packaging, the bottle is important to the concept. However, the bottle itself was somewhat of an afterthought, executives noted, since the main design effort was on fine-tuning the oversized green, metallic nozzle to convey the pragmatic positioning of the product. Xavier Rousseau did the packaging.
“From the very beginning, Lacoste was about providing technical equipment like shirts and shoes that would allow an athlete to achieve his best performance,” said Lacaze. “Booster was designed to be a physical and psychological stimulant, not a weapon of seduction.”
Touati said the frosted bottle, inspired by old soda water containers, was conceived to be “something you used without even looking, an automatic gesture.” She said the fragrance was “almost aromatherapeutic,” with ingredients like eucalyptol to provide a “pick-me-up” effect. The company is spending some $3.6 million (18 million francs) in France on print and TV campaigns this year for Booster. The advertising will be very product-driven and will use a before-and-after theme, often expressed with graphic symbols. Touati said the company was pleased with the campaign, developed by the French agency Colorado, because it allowed the company to customize the ads for certain types of publications, such as duty-free, or for specific events, such as the French Open. For example, the spot developed for the French Open shows “Double fault, double fault…” to the left of the bottle, and “Ace, ace, ace…” coming out of the nozzle to the right. Booster is a six-item line ranging in price from $54 (270 francs) for a 125-ml. eau de toilette to $16.50 (82.5 francs) for a 75-ml. deodorant. It is priced around 10 percent less than the original Lacoste line.

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