AVON BEGINS LAUNCH PARADE IN SEARCH FOR NEW CUSTOMERS

Byline: SOREN LARSON

NEW YORK — In September of each of the last two years, Avon has undertaken a global launch of a new women’s fragrance brand. These fourth-quarter scents — Far Away in 1994 and Rare Gold last year — turned out to be blockbusters, becoming the direct-sales firm’s most prolific fragrances ever.
But the company has no intentions of slacking off during the rest of the year. Avon is preparing a number of launches, each tailored to a different market niche and target audience, with the idea being to attract new customers while experimenting with new marketing angles.
“What we’re doing is constantly trying to amaze our customer,” said Joseph Bierman, senior director of fragrance and personal care. “We want them to say, ‘I would never have expected that from Avon.’ But we also have to make sure it doesn’t alienate our core crowd.”
The first of Avon’s fragrance efforts this year is Sunny Sky, launched in the beginning of March. The new scent represents a bid for more youthful consumers, Bierman said.
“It’s a different kind of packaging for us — very sleek and modern,” he said, referring to the minimalist design of a translucent bottle and simple silver cap. “Like everybody, we’re searching for the youth market.
“It’s also very modern, olfactively speaking,” he added. “It’s a very light, transparent floral.”
The fragrance has top notes of papaya, lichee, watermelon, osmanthus water mint and marigold, which lend it the quality of “floral sheerness.” A 1.7-oz. eau de toilette spray sells for $14.95.
In June, the company will undertake a dual launch called Pro Fitness. As Avon is the exclusive fragrance and cosmetics sponsor for this summer’s Olympics in Atlanta, the new brands — Pro Fitness for Men and Pro Fitness for Women — will have the Olympic logo on the bottle.
“Obviously, sport fragrances are very popular right now,” said Bierman, citing Ralph Lauren for starting the trend. “It’s a lifestyle concept.”
The brands will be featured heavily in Avon’s brochures, of which 14 million are distributed every two weeks. The promotions for the men’s fragrance will feature the tagline, “All men are created equal. After that it’s up to you.” The women’s tagline will be, “The spirit of the Olympic woman.”
The concept of the brand, Bierman said, is “about achieving your personal best.”
“It’s not about competition. It’s about personal goals,” Bierman said.
Shortly before the Olympics project gets under way, Avon will veer off in a different direction by introducing a group of four fragrances under the name Comfort Scents.
“These are fragrances for people who are looking for familiar, comfortable and desirable thoughts,” Bierman said.
The four varieties, which are called Clean Cotton, Delicious Dessert, Stonewashed Blue and Tropical Paradise, will sell for $12.95 each.
Clean Cotton is described as being fresh, bright and appealing, “like clothes you just pulled in from the line,” said Bierman.
Delicious Dessert follows the edible direction taken by many fragrances over the last several years. “It’s got chocolate and vanilla — it’s very seductive,” Bierman noted.
Stonewashed Blue is meant to be “as comfortable as your favorite pair of jeans,” he said, while Tropical Paradise is for “when you want to get away.”
“These are very wearable fragrances,” said Bierman, noting that the collection was created by Givaudan-Roure. “Givaudan is great at working with fun, unusual projects like this.”
In August, Avon will go a step further in the quest for younger consumers. The company will launch a brand called Butterfly, intended to entice girls just entering their teens.
“We continually got requests from the field force, asking for something for girls who are 11, 12, 13 years old,” said Bierman. “That’s the time when they’re just spreading they’re wings, so a butterfly is an apt metaphor.”
The launch will be loosely tied to the back-to-school period and will include one item: a 1-oz. spray for $9.95. “It’s young, very fashion-forward,” Bierman said.
In the fourth quarter will come another major production from Avon along the lines of Rare Gold, which reportedly topped Far Away by racking up sales in excess of $35 million from September through December.
On the whole, the company is projecting sales gains in the mid-single digits this year for the fragrance category, Bierman said.
“One customer we’re really targeting is the customer who buys Avon products, but not our fragrances,” Bierman said. “60 percent of the shoppers in our franchise buy the fragrances, which is a nice number. But we’re targeting those who don’t.”

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