LANCOME PUTS POEME IN MOTION
Byline: Pete Born
NEW YORK — For the U.S. launch of its latest women’s fragrance, Poeme, Lancome is packing plenty of muscle.
The introduction, which began with a preview this week in specialty stores and will pick up steam in early March, will be supported by an intricate promotional and advertising program that will cost slightly more than $10 million, according to industry estimates.
The marketing program will include scented strips, Scent Seals and blow-in cards, totaling nearly 42 million impressions, for the spring launch period, said Margaret Sharkey, deputy general manager of Cosmair’s Lancome division and senior vice president of marketing and advertising.
There will be 1.5 million samples disseminated, including vial-on-cards and spray vials.
Philip Shearer, Lancome’s general manager and senior vice president, said the large menu of promotional vehicles will be used to tailor launches at different stores to fit the character of the business in various regions.
“It’ll be refined,” he noted.
“We feel very optimistic about it,” said Steve Bock, general merchandise manager and senior vice president of Saks Fifth Avenue. “The presentation is wonderful, and they have great power behind it.”
Bock said he expects Poeme to place in the top 10 for spring at Saks. Similar predictions came from Federated Department Stores, Macy’s East and Macy’s West.
“They have a big marketing strategy and merchandising plan,” said Margo Scavarda, general merchandise manager of Macy’s West. Michelle Williams, vice president of cosmetics at Federated Merchandising, pointed to the aggressive sampling program and the in-store visual presentation.
Rita Burke Mangan, the newly named senior vice president of Federated Merchandising who had been senior vice president of Macy’s East, said, “It is well done in everything from the bottle to the juice.”
Referring to Robert Cassou, deputy general manager and senior vice president of sales at Lancome, Mangan praised the merchandising effort.
“Bob took a strong fragrance and added to it,” she said. “He has all the bases covered from the launch plan to the in-store visual merchandising.”
She added that the challenge will lie in protecting Lancome’s Tresor, which the company bills as the world’s best-selling fragrance, with a global volume estimated by sources at $200 million for 1994.
Last June, during Poeme’s French unveiling, Pierre Sajot, Lancome’s Paris-based president, predicted that the fragrance would achieve a global volume of $100 million wholesale, once distribution rolled out to the U.S. and Asia.
While Cosmair executives do not break out launch budgets or sales projections, the company clearly hopes that PoEme aspires to the “gold standard” of Tresor, which now does a wholesale volume of about $40 million in the U.S.
Industry sources say Poeme is expected to follow the trajectory scored by Tresor in 1991 by compiling $12 million at retail for the spring launch.
Sharkey declined to comment on that estimate, but stated, “It definitely will be a strong sister to Tresor.”
That also was Shearer’s sentiment.
Asked what could be construed from Poeme’s fall launch in Europe, Philip said that its performance so far proves “there’s room for another significant fragrance business at Lancome.”
While Shearer had no figures, random spot checks of perfumeries last fall in Europe showed Poeme selling well, although it sometimes seemed to be edged out by other fall launches, like Calvin Klein’s CK One and Christian Dior’s Dolce Vita.
As a recent indication, Marie-Jeanne Godard, a 55-door French perfumery chain, reported that Poeme ranked second to Dolce Vita for December.
For the U.S. launch, Lancome is putting more muscle behind the new scent than had been employed for Tresor four years ago.
Although unable to provide specific figures, a Lancome spokeswoman said “substantially” more scented impressions are being lodged for Poeme than Tresor, and for the first time, the company has inserted a specialty store “preview” into the launch schedule prior to the rollout of Lancome’s 2,000-plus department store door distribution.
Saks began selling the fragrance this week in a handful of its 45 doors and Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom also will be selling the scent. Neiman’s also began selling the merchandise this week, and the response has been “excellent,” according to John Stabenau, vice president.
To go along with the name of the fragrance, a poem entitled, “I Love You,” by Frenchman Paul Eluard, is incorporated into the marketing. An English translation of the poem appears on everything from collateral counter materials to the striking in-store displays.
The bottle and outer packaging was designed by Fabien Baron, who also designed Calvin Klein’s CK One packaging and collaborated on the L’Eau d’Issey bottle of Issey Miyake.
The color scheme of the line is a combination of yellow and blue designed to echo the sensuous and frosty pairing of the scent’s two most prominent notes, datura and the Himalayan blue poppy. The fragrance, created by perfumer Jacques Cavallier of Firmenich, has more of a modern edge than the more traditional TrAsor.
The line consists of six stockkepping units. In France, the scent was introduced in two forms — perfume and eau de parfum. For the U.S., a lower concentration eau de toilette was added — a 1.7-oz. spray priced at $40 — which is the most popular fragrance form in the market here.
Sharkey said the eau de toilette was envisioned for the U.S. market as giving the consumer a choice of a “lighter, spirited version of the scent.”
The opening price point is $32 for a 1-oz. eau de parfum spray, which Sharkey said will be offered for at least the first year. A similar item in the Tresor line is $36. The top-priced item for department stores is a quarter-ounce perfume for $800.
A special item — a half-ounce perfume spray at $125 — will be sold in specialty stores only.
In May, a body lotion — priced $36.50 for a 200-ml. bottle — will be added.
The print advertising features photos of Juliette Binoche shot by Richard Avedon. The European ads showed Binoche with her eyes closed. In the American version, her eyes are open.
“If we’re talking about poetry,” Sharkey said, “and talking about communicating with people through words, it makes sense for her eyes to be open.”