PERFUMER’S WORKSHOP’S LES GIRLS: DENTING THE SPRAY CAN MARKET
Byline: Soren Larson
NEW YORK — For its latest fragrance launch, Perfumer’s Workshop is venturing into a new product category — body sprays.
After spending the last 20 years dabbling in single-note scents in the department store arena, this month the company is launching Les Girls — a collection of single-note body sprays — into the mass market.
Les Girls also marks the company’s first product launch in mass without selling the item first in a selective upscale distribution. Tea Rose and Rosebud, two women’s fragrances, are currently sold in mass outlets, but were originally introduced in the prestige market.
“We knew we could bring essential oils to the mass market, but we wanted to find a void where we could fill a need and be more unique,” said Donald Bauchner, Perfumer’s Workshop president, noting that the company currently sells single-note oils at the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship here.
“In looking at the mass arena, what was sticking out was the body spray category,” he continued. “We’re looking at least a $450 million business in spray cans — and none of it is in department stores. It seemed appropriate; it’s a volatile category, and the rate of growth should be explosive.”
Bauchner noted that some major mass brands, such as L’Oreal’s Vanderbilt and various fragrances from Coty, have introduced body spray versions in order to “bring their entry price down.”
“Also, you have all the knockoffs,” Bauchner said. “But we wanted to launch an original fragrance line specifically created for the body spray category.”
Les Girls will come in five varieties: Citrus, Peach, Vanilla, Gardenia and Lilac. Each 2.5-oz. spray will retail for $5.95.
While the items will be sold separately, customers are urged to blend the different scents to their own specifications. Cards with instructions on how to custom-blend — including information on what kind of concoctions result from the different combinations — will be distributed in stores on the product displays and at counters.
A tester for each of the scents will also be situated on the display.
“We picked five of the fragrances we’ve found people like alone and that they also like to blend,” said Bauchner.
“With the sprays, it’s a lot less intimidating for people and also easier to use for blending,” added Desiree Malahoo, director of product development. “They go together naturally: Some are top notes, like the citrus, some are middle notes and some will naturally be the dry down, like vanilla.”
Les Girls will be sold in most major mass market chains, Bauchner said, including drugstores and large discounters like Target and Kmart. In all, the brand will be in around 12,000 doors by the end of the year.
“In these outlets, the glassed-in fragrances are usually separate from the body sprays,” Bauchner said. “We’re going to be in both locations in some stores, in some we’ll be only with the fragrances — where we’ll be the lowest price point — and some only with the body sprays.”
With the launch, Perfumer’s Workshop will package a $12.50 mix-and-match set with 0.5 to 0.75-oz. versions of each Les Girls scent.
In addition, the company will merchandise kits for each of the individual fragrances with a full-size spray, a purse spray and a small cologne pour for $10.
The company is planning to spend $3 million between the launch and the end of the year in advertising and promotion, Bauchner said.
“This has to be a strong volume business for us if we want to make any money,” he said. “In order to achieve that, we really have to get the name out there.”
He said he is optimistic that Les Girls will make a dent in the body spray category.
“Great results are deserved,” he said. “But less than great would be acceptable, as well. But we’re in for the long haul.
“We’d like to wrap our hands around 10 percent of this category,” he added, which would translate to nearly $50 million at retail. “And this category, I would say, is not growing any slower than 18 to 20 percent. Some very serious merchandisers are getting into the spray can business.”
Joan Zukor, director of cosmetics for Western Drug Distributors, which operates Drug Emporiums in the Northwest, said she was impressed with the new line.
“I’ve just seen Les Girls and I’m intrigued,” she said. “I’ve been a fan of single note florals. I think it is kicky and fun.” Perfumer’s Workshop will begin advertising the new collection in June issues of fashion magazines, with the campaign continuing through October.
“We’re still working on developing a scent strip where people will be able to layer and blend,” Bauchner said. He added that the company is also planning to plug the brand on television, most likely during the back-to-school period.
“We have to go on MTV with this,” he said. “We’ll most likely have a mix of 10-, 15- and 30-second spots.”
Bauchner noted that MTV is crucial to reaching the youth market, which will be the most likely contingent to scoop up Les Girls.
“We see this product category as being for ages 16 to 25,” Bauchner said. “But the real action here is going to be from 14 to 18. And we’re also hoping to catch a lot of adults on the affordability.”
After a new round of gift sets for the Christmas season, Perfumer’s Workshop will likely augment Les Girls with a new group of fragrances next year.
“Body sprays have traditionally been a seasonal fragrance,” Bauchner said. “They’ve done the best in the summer months. But our goal is to take this beyond a seasonal category.”
Meanwhile, Perfumer’s Workshop is attempting to strengthen its foray into mass with Tea Rose, launched in 1977, and Rosebud, the followup from 1993.
Tea Rose is now in 2,500 mass doors, as well as being sold in a class distribution, Bauchner said, and the company is working to “bring people into the brand” at the mass level.
In cycles of 30 days, special Tea Rose promotions are being offered with reduced prices — for example, an $18 item would sell for $14, while the $10 size would sell for $4 or $5.
Rosebud was shipped in December to a mass distribution similar to that of Les Girls, around 12,000 doors. The brand is being promoted with on-pack special offers.
“These are limited time offers,” Bauchner said. “We want to show that you can sell at mass without having to offer a $20 item for $5.”