NEW YORK — The hunt is on for new trends in the mass market fragrance business. While manufacturers agree that the vanilla craze — begun two years ago with Coty’s Vanilla Fields — is still alive and kicking, mass market companies have been expanding their horizons with other fragrance classifications.
One movement has been the introduction of modern versions of classic fragrance types such as orientals and florientals. Recent entries of this type are Charlie Red, Fire & Ice and Ciara Femme Fatale — all from Revlon — and Coty’s Longing.
Another emerging trend in the trickling down from prestige channels is the creation of airy, transparent scents, typified by L’Eau d’Issey from Issey Miyake. One example is Revlon’s Adrift.
While many firms are starting to experiment with new fragrance categories, it seems last year’s flood of new mass market scents has not resulted in the banner gains some retailers expected.
Although last year saw an increase in major mass launches, retailers maintain that the new contenders have not yet revitalized sales.
In fact, many chains have pared back space devoted to traditional mass brands in order to clear more room for diverted and alternative designer fragrances. The lack of hits had an impact on Christmas — the most important fragrance selling period in mass doors. While many retailers predicted increases in the low double digits, sales last Christmas rose only 6 to 8 percent above 1993, according to store executives.
Many retailers credit secondarily sourced scents with generating most of 1994’s gains, which yield lower gross margins than those retailers obtain on a direct basis. “The sales trend is moving in favor of prestige fragrances,” said Phar-Mor’s June Taylor.
Drug Emporium has also significantly pared back its space and inventory commitment to mass fragrances in favor of secondarily sourced goods.
Lines of distribution on the diverted scents remain open, according to Joan Zukor, the chain’s director of cosmetics, who added, “The only two tough to get are Lauder and Calvin Klein.”
But buyers were quick to add that without the stable of new fragrances introduced in 1994 and some new entries, which bowed this year, their fragrance business would be even more dismal. “Without the new fragrances, our fragrance business would have been terrible last Christmas,” said Sheri Ralston, buyer for Thrifty PayLess.
Another way mass marketers are attempting to increase fragrance sales is by making Mother’s Day as viable a fragrance gift season as Christmas.
Beginning on page 20, WWD has compiled a sampling of some of the gift sets and special promotions slated to fill the shelves this May.