GIORGIO’S AIRE RAISING
Byline: Soren Larson
NEW YORK — Giorgio Beverly Hills is hoping that a new scent called Aire will provide a fresh breeze for its signature brand this spring.
The new fragrance, which will make its debut in the Giorgio boutique in Beverly Hills, Calif., in April before rolling out to department stores in the summer, is part of a continuing revitalization plan for the original Giorgio fragrance — a blockbuster in the early Eighties that has been slipping of late.
In August, the company launched the first major advertising campaign for Giorgio in three years, gave the line updated packaging and installed new merchandising and promotions. In addition, a lighter and less-expensive version of the scent, Light and Natural Spray, was added to the lineup. Since diversion has fueled a long-simmering controversy — some industry sources have estimated the amount of Giorgio merchandise in the gray market as well above the industry average of 20 percent of sales — the firm is copyrighting its packaging to protect its products from diverters.
Giorgio Aire represents the next step in the Giorgio brand’s redevelopment, according to Linda LoRe, president and chief executive officer of Giorgio Beverly Hills. While the new item has the same bottle shape and striped packaging used since 1982 by Giorgio, it uses a mint-green color scheme as opposed to the original’s yellow. It also has what LoRe described as “a totally different scent.”
“It’s a modern floral for the Nineties. It’s part of the evolution of lighter, softer, contemporary scents,” LoRe said, noting that Giorgio’s juice is described as a bolder, heavier floral.
“The framework here is our acquisition a year and a half ago,” said LoRe. Procter & Gamble purchased Giorgio from Avon for $150 million in August 1994.
“The first year after that, the focus was on stabilizing the current portfolio — relaunching Giorgio, injecting some new life into Red, a new ad campaign for Wings. This all culminated with the launch of Hugo last fall,” she said, referring to the latest men’s effort from Hugo Boss. “We’ve found that there is quite a bit of life still left in [the Giorgio] name, and we can build on that equity.”
LoRe declined to divulge specific dollar figures, but according to industry estimates, the firm tripled its advertising and promotion budget for Giorgio last year, spending an estimated $10 million.
The company used network TV spots, co-op TV during the holiday season and a new national print campaign developed by Gray Advertising.
As a result, LoRe claimed, the firm has been seeing “double-digit growth on trend” since the efforts began. Sales had reportedly fallen almost 75 percent since 1985, when Giorgio was the number-one fragrance in the country, with a $100 million wholesale volume. According to Kline & Co.’s survey of the overall U.S. fragrance market, Giorgio’s sales had fallen to $26 million by last year, while distribution ballooned.
But according to sources, the revamping pushed Giorgio’s volume back over the $30 million mark last year, and the addition of Aire could double that figure in 1996.
“We expect Aire to be on par with the original brand in terms of volume,” LoRe said.
The new fragrance is priced about the same as the original and will be launched with four items: a 1.7-oz. eau de toilette for $42, a 3-oz. version for $55, a 6.7-oz. body moisturizer for $25 and a 6.7-oz. body wash for $20.
LoRe said she was wary of the threat of cannibalization within the Giorgio franchise, which will be exacerbated by the number of mega-launches slated to hit the market through the year. EstAe Lauder, Chanel, Christian Dior, LancOme and others are weighing in with department store introductions — some in the spring, some in the fall.
“That’s part of why we’re doing the boutique exclusive [to start],” she said. By holding the department store launch in the summer, “we’ll avoid all that activity on both ends.”
In addition, she noted, Aire has enough points of difference to avoid siphoning from Giorgio’s customers.
“It’s a new scent with new characteristics,” LoRe explained. “It’s positioned to have a broad appeal — but also a younger appeal. We’re hoping it will attract younger consumers in terms of both age and attitude.”
She said the “user base” will be women in their mid-Thirties, though it should dip down into the high teens.
“The concept is still Giorgio, but updated,” LoRe continued. “Giorgio is about bold glamour and exuberance; Aire is casual glamour and warm-hearted. It’s a bold, big floral versus a soft floral, yellow versus green.”
The fragrance, which is described as “modern bright floral bouquet,” was created by Firmenich. The key notes are pink camelia, yellow linden, red California poppy, purple American windflower, white tuberanthis and green bamboo leaf. The dry down includes orris, vanilla, amber and sandalwood.
As with the revitalization plan for Giorgio, Aire will be backed with a substantial advertising campaign and heavy sampling. Though she didn’t reveal the budget, LoRe said the firm will spend on a level “comparable to the relaunch.”
The print campaign will first appear in the May editions of most major fashion and beauty magazines and will continue through December.
“The focus is to get the scent out as much as possible,” LoRe said. To that end, the company will distribute 50 million scented pieces throughout the year, the bulk of which will be scented strips and “blow-in” cards in magazines, with the remainder being packettes and blotters given out in stores.
The ad’s imagery, currently being developed by Gray, will be “fun and outdoorsy,” said LoRe.
No television spots are scheduled for now. “Getting the fragrance out is the priority,” she said.
A striped bag will be the launch gift-with-purchase, while Christmas promotions will include gift sets, candles and a teddy bear gwp.
Eventually, Aire will be in the same distribution as Giorgio, or around 1850 department and specialty store doors. The possibility exists that the two will be promoted together at retail.
“[Aire is] going to have its own separate advertising, but it only makes sense to make a statement together in the stores,” LoRe noted.
Though Aire is now set to go, the product did undergo a change fairly late in its development; in initial reports, it was said to be called Breeze.
LoRe said the decision to use Aire was simply a marketing choice and had little to do with an upcoming fall launch: EstAe Lauder’s White Linen Breeze.
“[Giorgio and Lauder] found out about each other fairly early on,” she said. “It’s possible we could have coexisted. But we liked Aire.”
Giorgio’s next move after Aire will be a launch late this year of a new, stand-alone brand, which LoRe declined to name. The company will also continue to support Hugo and give a jump start to Red, she said.
Hugo was named by many retailers as a surprise hit at the men’s counter this fall, and LoRe said it will enjoy the same level of advertising and promotional support in 1996. According to sources, Giorgio dished out $8 million to $10 million for Hugo’s ad campaigns in the final three months of 1995.
Meanwhile, last September, the firm launched a new print and TV campaign for Red starring Paulina Porizkova. The fragrance, which had been in a similar position to Giorgio in that its sales were slipping and it was hurt by diversion, will get further attention this year when it undergoes a revamping similar to Giorgio’s. First off will be the launch of Red Sheer Allover Spray in May.
Noted LoRe, “In order to be successful in this business, you have to have stabilized, core brands.”