GUCCI’S NEW GLOBAL WEAPON: ENVY
Byline: Pete Born / Alev Aktar
NEW YORK — Gucci is hoping that its new women’s fragrance, called Envy, will inspire just that.
The scent, which will be launched globally in March, is being hitched to Gucci’s white-hot fashion star. Tom Ford, the Milan-based design house’s creative director, helped develop the new fragrance. Gucci fashion will be incorporated into the scent’s ad campaign, which is still in the works, according to executives.
It is also hoped that Envy will make a strong enough worldwide impression to shore up Gucci’s lackluster standing in the fragrance market. In addition, the launch of Envy is part of a larger plan by German parent Wella AG to become a global player, particularly in the U.S.
According to industry sources, Intercosmetics Inc., Wella’s U.S. cosmetics and fragrance subsidiary, is aiming at achieving a national wholesale volume of $100 million by the year 2000, dramatically up from the current sales level of less than $40 million.
To achieve this ambitious plan, the company is formulating at least five new fragrance launches, both prestige and popular-priced, and it will all start next spring with Envy.
“This can be a No. 5 ranked fragrance in the U.S. and elsewhere — I say that as a minimum,” noted Werner Hofmann, president and chief executive officer of Intercosmetics as well as a regional vice president of the Wella fragrance and cosmetics group.
Hofmann added that Envy is a part of a plan to rebuild Gucci’s fragrance image and reestablish the house as “the most trend-setting brand in the world.”
Hofmann provided no sales projections, but a ranking in the top five could translate into a global wholesale volume ranging from $100 million to $150 million, according to estimates by industry sources. Gucci is expected to spend about $50 million in advertising and promotional support worldwide.
The new scent was unveiled Oct. 19 at a dinner held for 560 duty-free and other retailers in the French Mediterranean seacoast town of Antibes. The party was held in Chantier Naval Opera, a mammoth structure once used for shipbuilding that now serves as an opera house.
The curtain went up on Envy five months before the launch because Wella wanted to pitch the scent to duty-free retailers attending last week’s Tax Free World Exhibition, held in neighboring Cannes.
Envy is the latest addition to a stable of Gucci fragrances. Hofmann said the most promising scents are the two-year-old Accenti women’s fragrance and the men’s brand, Nobile.
These are existing scents on which the company will focus, Hofmann said.
Less promising are two other fragrances, Gucci No. 3 and Eau de Gucci.
In the U.S., Gucci now has a distribution of roughly 1,200 doors, Hofmann said, adding that the company has been weeding out weaker doors.
Envy also will have an American distribution of 1,200 doors, but it will comprise a richer mix of retailers, since the company intends to use Envy as leverage to upgrade its roster of stores. Spencer Kanis, chief operating officer of Intercosmetics, said the company has just begun to present the new fragrance to American retailers. But he expects to improve his distribution network with a mixture of specialty and prestige department stores. “Envy is totally a new force for Intercosmetics, and it will set the pace for all future launches for Gucci,” Kanis said.
According to sources, Wella expects Envy to do in excess of $20 million the first year in the U.S., driven by an ample promotional and advertising war chest of roughly $18 million.
Kanis had no comment on the figures, but he said the ad budget will be spent on an upscale campaign involving national magazines. “We will not do TV,” Kanis said. “We feel the Gucci image does not translate well on television.”
The Envy fragrance is a fresh, green, transparent floral, created by Quest International. The packaging offers an unusual twist. Instead of the narrow rectangular glass bottle being packaged in a cardboard box, it is sheathed inside a clear, plastic box with a flip-up top.
The pricepoints of the Envy line are slightly higher than those of Accenti, ranging from $40 for the 30-ml. eau de toilette spray, the lowest priced fragrance item. The 50-ml. version is priced $60, and the 100-ml. size is $85. The price of the 15-ml. perfume is $140. A 200-ml. body lotion, priced $45, and a 200-ml. bath and shower gel for $35 round out the line.
Hofmann said the 30-ml. eau de toilette is intended mostly for Germany and Scandinavia, where price-conscious consumers favor small sizes.
The Wella fragrance and cosmetics group, which is subdivided into prestige and popular-priced divisions, has made the U.S. market its top priority, Hofmann said, adding that Japan is also important. He estimates that the Japanese account for 40 percent of Gucci’s global fashion and accessory business.
As for future fragrance projects, a new Gucci men’s scent is in development for possible launch as early as next fall. A new Rochas women’s fragrance is tentatively planned for 1998. In the select, or popular-priced market, another Priscilla Presley scent, as a followup to this September’s Indian Summer scent, is in the works. A Gabriela Sabatini scent is being readied for launch next fall. A new scent under the 4711 brand, called Fresh & Cool, is being launched in Europe now.
Wella has signed a licensing agreement with Puma, the athletic shoe company, and plans to launch a men’s scent in Europe next year, Hofmann said.
In the prestige market, Rochas is developing a sister scent to Tocade, its 1994 entry. The Tocade bottle will be adapted for an entirely different scent. Kanis estimated that it will be launched in France the end of next year, then rolled out to the U.S.