Byline: Amy B. Barone

MILAN — A scarcity of high-profile fragrance launches this fall has Italian retailers worried about their holiday prospects.
Most perfumeries expect little or no growth for 1996 in the fragrance category, a big disappointment after the 1995 gains of 10 percent, which were driven by important introductions.
One problem is that many firms have purposely delayed their Italian launches this season, in what retailers say is a reaction to a slow Italian economy and to perfumeries’ continuing strategy of cutting back on the number of brands they carry to create the most sales in a smaller space.
Such new scents as Celine’s Magic, Givenchy’s Organza, Yohji Yamamoto’s signature scent, Paloma Picasso’s Tentations, Caron’s Aimez-Moi, Laura Biagiotti’s Sotto Voce, O de Lancome Pour Homme and Les Belles de Ricci — all introduced in other European countries this fall — have yet to bow here. Many of the brands are not expected to hit Italian stores until next spring.
Retailers also bemoaned dwindling vendor investment in advertising and point-of-sale activity. As a result, many stores are plotting their own elaborate advertising and promotional strategies to drum up business.
Mariella Burani’s Mariella, Guerlain’s Champs-Elysees and Kenzo’s Jungle are the best-selling new launches at the moment. Retailers credit Guerlain’s total marketing mix — name, packaging, juice and TV ad campaign — for the initial success of Champs-Elysees.
Still, some perfumery owners were disappointed with the number of samples furnished, especially in light of Guerlain’s desire to attract a new, younger clientele.
For the holiday season, Italian retailers are counting on Champs-Elysees, Chanel’s Allure, Christian Dior’s Dolce Vita and the ever-popular CK One to drive sales. In men’s fragrances, Azzaro’s Chrome and Replay, the signature scent for the trendy jeans and sportswear company, are leaders.
Azzaro’s extensive print campaign and Replay’s efforts in cinemas and perfumeries have helped, retailers said.
Versace’s The Dreamer for men, which arrived in stores three weeks ago, is also eyed as a potential winner.
Kiton, the new men’s scent from Palladio, the joint venture between Estee Lauder and industry veteran Herbert Frommen, received mixed reviews. Some retailers said consumers are unfamiliar with the Kiton name, despite its origin as an Italian tailor. One retailer said an association with the Lauder name should have been accentuated.
At the Rinascente Group’s flagship here, fragrance buyer Silvana Cartolano reported Champs-Elysees, Cool Water Woman, Fantasia Fendi, Bulgari Extreme, Chrome and Replay have been making plan, while Jungle has underperformed, despite a highly promoted launch.
“Jungle is beginning to move, but it has high price points for such a youthful image,” said Cartolano. “We have strong expectations for Extreme, especially at Christmastime, along with Champs-Elysees.”
At the 77-door Ethos Group based in Vicenza, president Armando Peressoni said Jungle and Champs-Elysees are selling well.
Daniela Ziering, marketing manager for the 49-door Douglas Italia chain, reported Champs-Elysees, Kiton, Chrome and Replay are exceeding plan. Jungle, Joop’s All About Eve, Mariella, Fantasia and Eau de Parfum by Carita are also doing well.
At the 60-door Coprasso Due group of Rome, store manager Fariza Yaha noted Champs-Elysees, Fantasia and Replay have exceeded plan, while Chrome, Mariella, Cool Water Woman, Carita’s Eau de Parfum and Kiton have met expectations. For the holiday season, Yaha has high expectations for Champs-Elysees, Allure, Dolce Vita and Chrome.
Delio Di Fabio, president of the new 16-member, 27-door Cinque Stelle perfumery association based in Pescara, said Jungle, Champs-Elysees and Replay are surpassing plan. Mariella and Chrome have been meeting expectations, though Kiton has not.
At the Venice-based Coin department stores, the newest bestsellers are Cool Water Woman, Replay and Chrome. All About Eve, Jungle and Mariella have hit plan. The chain does not carry Guerlain.