BULGARI READIES FIRST MEN’S ENTRY

Byline: Pete Born

NEW YORK — Bulgari will add the final piece to its fragrance puzzle next March when it launches its first men’s scent in the U.S.
The fragrance, called Bulgari Pour Homme, will be the Rome-based jewelry company’s third launch in as many years, following the introduction of the Eau Parfumee unisex scent in 1993 and the signature women’s Bulgari in September 1994.
“The reason [we’re] coming out with a men’s fragrance is so we will have a house of Bulgari,” said Connie Ruscio, vice president of sales for Fragrances Exclusive Inc., a division of Chanel Inc. and the distributor for Bulgari fragrances in North America. She added that Bulgari hopes to establish corporate counters, featuring all three scents, in the fragrance areas of certain doors of Bulgari’s specialty store distribution.
The company has been rapidly raising its profile in the U.S., continuing its American store openings with a planned 11th unit in San Francisco in June. The new fragrance will be sold in the Bulgari stores, as well.
Within its fragrance distribution, Bulgari intends to merchandise scents at the women’s and men’s fragrance bars, an arrangement termed “double-parked” by Veronica Bulgari, area manager of North and South America for Parfums Bulgari. She is the great-granddaughter of founder Sotirio Bulgari.
The packaging of the new line has the same clean, clear look as that of the women’s and unisex scents, and the ad, a silhouette of a man’s face, is cast in the same format as the women’s ad. Although the two ads were produced 18 months apart, Bulgari noted, they were shot by the same photographer, Fabrizio Ferri.
She added that since the ads look like they were designed to match, the company can run double-page magazine spreads in the future.
The similarities do not end with the advertising and packaging. Like the women’s and unisex scents, the new men’s item features a tea accord: The top note contains Darjeeling tea. Jasmine tea is among the middle notes of the women’s scent and green tea is in the base of Eau Parfumee.
Like the other scents, Bulgari Pour Homme will be launched exclusively with a single retailer for at least the first six months, Ruscio said, adding that the company is on the verge of picking the store. It most likely will be one of the chains now handling Bulgari’s other scents — Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.
To a lesser extent, the fragrances are carried by Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman and other specialty stores.
“What we are looking for is a strategic partner in terms of financial support, presentation and expectation,” said Ruscio. “We want a store that feels this can be a number one brand.”
The executives declined to break out dollar amounts, but industry sources estimate Bulgari is shooting for a first-year retail volume of more than $750,000 with the men’s product. The company reportedly expects the men’s scent to do 70 to 80 percent of the women’s, now Bulgari’s top-selling fragrance, on a door-per-door basis.
The budget for sales promotion and advertising support is estimated at about $1 million.
According to Anne Lively, marketing manager of Fragrances Exclusive, launch plans include two weeks of pre-introduction sampling, with strong in-store visuals and plentiful demonstrations. “Millions” of vials will be handed out, she noted, and during the Father’s Day period about 20,000 miniatures will be distributed.
Scented strips will be placed in store catalogs, and ads will run in national and regional magazines — but without scented inserts, because the distribution will be too small to justify a scattershot approach, Ruscio said.
The other two Bulgari fragrances are now distributed in 160 doors and next year the count will rise to 180, she added.
The men’s scent already has been launched in Europe, in 550 perfumery doors in Italy in October, 1,200 perfumeries in Germany later that month and 30 department store doors in the UK in November.
The fragrance, developed by perfumer Jacques Cavallier of Firmenich, is designed to be richer than many of the light, “marine” compositions now appearing. “The light, fresh top note dries down to a musk and transparent amber base,” Bulgari said.
Lively added that the fragrance has a higher concentration of 16 percent, versus the 8 to 12 percent found in a typical eau de toilette.
The potency of the products — including the bath items in the fragrance launch — is used to justify the tony prices. The opening prices of the nine-item line are $45 and $50 for pour and spray versions, respectively, in the 1.7-oz. eau de toilette.
Ruscio estimated that Bulgari’s prices fall between Tiffany and Boucheron. “We’re in the high end of middle,” she said. “We’re not so outrageous that an average customer can’t make a purchase.”

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