Byline: Cara Kagan

NEW YORK — Revlon is plunging into its third major fragrance launch in less than a year, hoping to create as big a splash in scent as it has in color cosmetics.
In April, the company will reinvent its 22-year-old Ciara women’s scent by introducing Ciara Femme Fatale, a line extension of the original with a different fragrance and slightly different positioning. The idea is to draw a younger consumer into the Ciara franchise, Revlon executives said.
The Ciara relaunch closely follows two major Revlon fragrance introductions. Last summer the company translated the name of its signature shade of lip and nail enamel into the Fire & Ice fragrance. In the fall, it sought to modernize its 21-year-old Charlie fragrance with a strategy similar to the one being used to revive Ciara. Revlon introduced Charlie Red, a hotter, spicier scent than the original green floral.
“Over time, it is our goal to create as much consumer awareness in Revlon fragrance as we have with color cosmetics,” said Kathy Dwyer, executive vice president and general manager of Revlon mass market cosmetics and fragrances.
“We are hoping to achieve this through either reinventing existing brands, which have close Revlon associations, such as Charlie and Ciara, and through launching new brands that reinforce Revlon’s heritage in color and fashion. Fire & Ice was a direct hit at our color business.”
She noted Revlon has linked color to fragrance in its seasonal color promotions. For example, this spring the company will introduce the Adrift scent, the fragrance component of its Marooned spring color story.
“If Revlon can do to fragrance what they have done to foundations and lipsticks, then anything they do will be a winner,” said Carl Lynch, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for I Got It At Gary’s of Eagleville, Pa. “I can’t tell you how phenomenal ColorStay lipstick and the Age Defying face products have been for me.
“But as of yet they have not done that,” he continued.”I think that the Charlie relaunch and Fire & Ice were both good efforts and were much better supported than Revlon fragrances in the past, but I would like to see more national advertising, more upscale packaging and clearer messages to the consumer.”
While Revlon tries to ignite fragrance sales by creating new brands and reinventing old favorites, it hopes to stir things up at retail, too.
“Shopping for mass fragrance, especially during Christmas, is not necessarily fun or special anymore,” Dwyer said, referring to the mass market practice of piling holiday gift sets onto tables. “Our goal is to take the clutter and craziness out of it to and to give consumers a pleasant and enjoyable shopping experience.”
To generate more holiday fragrance cheer, the company has created an in-store boutique that operates around a black freestanding wheeled display that measures about 6 linear feet and can hold up to 140 gift sets. The new unit has room for testers and will be decorated with images from Revlon’s fragrance advertising campaigns.
Dwyer said the new display, which can be customized to each account and for year-round usage, will be placed in 12,000 doors for holiday selling.
“As soon as I saw that display, I wanted it for every store,” said Sheri Ralston, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for Thrifty-PayLess of Wilsonville, Ore. “I love it. It is real eye-catching and upscale and I love the fact that it is on wheels so that I can put it anywhere in the store. I am also glad that I can tailor the merchandise mix. There is a very good possibility that I would keep something like that in the store year-round.”
Ciara, described as a classic oriental scent, was launched in 1973 as a prestige fragrance and was sold exclusively in fewer than 500 department store doors.
At its peak in the mid-to-late Seventies, Ciara had a wholesale volume of around $60 million, according to industry estimates. At last count, its sales had reportedly dropped to $38 million.
Dwyer attributes the sales decline to spotty advertising.
“There was virtually no support after 1986,” Dwyer said. “But when Revlon came back in with some advertising in 1988 and 1989, sales picked up again.”
Femme Fatale will be sold alongside Ciara in J.C. Penney Co.’s roughly 400 doors and 18,000 of Revlon’s 22,000 mass fragrance doors.
Industry sources estimated Revlon is spending $20 million to $25 million to advertise the Ciara franchise during Femme Fatale’s launch year.
Ciara is expected to achieve sales increases of roughly 20 percent, giving both scents a combined wholesale volume of at least $45 million.
Femme Fatale was positioned to give an edge to the powerfully feminine imagery that classic Ciara projected in the Seventies.
Ciara’s advertising declares it to be a “devastatingly feminine fragrance.” Femme Fatale’s message raises the stakes by claiming it is “dangerously feminine.” The new print and TV campaigns, which have a film noir tone and feature model Yasmeen Ghauri, will be punctuated with the tag line: “Because the female of the species is more dangerous than the male.” Print advertising will break in May books and TV spots will appear in May. Classic Ciara so far is not slated to receive separate support during Femme Fatale’s inaugural year. However, Femme Fatale ads will be tagged to remind consumers of the parent brand. Sampling is part of the marketing mix. Revlon plans to distribute one million scented strips and carded vials. “Right now Ciara skews older than 35 and we plan to keep things that way,” said Cynthia Passmore, vice president of marketing. “We think the new attention the classic brand will get will help us to cement our relationships with the younger end of that user group. Femme Fatale should attract women 30 and younger who are very confident.”
Femme Fatale’s juice, which was created by Givaudan Roure with the help of fragrance consultant Ann Gottlieb, is a sheer, modern oriental.
Its top notes are coriander, muguet, cyclamen, pear and mandarin. At the middle is bouquet of rose, orange flower, nutmeg and jasmine. The base notes include sandalwood, vanilla, musk and tonka bean.
Prices for the three cologne sprays range from $15 for a 0.45-oz. to $26 for a 2.3-oz. A 0.25-oz. perfume version, $38, will bow this fall.
“I am optimistic about Femme Fatale,” said Ralston at Thrifty-PayLess. “It is a beautiful fragrance and if it is well supported, it should do well.”
“I think this type of marketing is the appropriate direction to take,” said June Taylor, senior director of cosmetics and fragrance for Phar-Mor of Youngstown, Ohio. “There is no denying the success of the Coty Stetson brands and the Calvin Klein and Elizabeth Taylor department store franchises. It is definitely a way of capitalizing on brand awareness.” Revlon has put similar efforts behind the other two fragrances in their first 12 months. The company is reportedly investing $20 million to advertise Fire & Ice through a steamy print and TV campaign featuring Cindy Crawford.
Sources expect the effort will result in a Fire & Ice women’s wholesale volume of $30 million to $35 million in the first year, with the men’s version ringing up an additional $10 million to $15 million.
The Charlie venture is reportedly backed by $25 million worth of print and TV ads with former MTV veejay Karen Duff. Original Charlie’s sales are expected to increase by around 25 percent, giving both scents a combined wholesale volume of $56 million.
While Dwyer declined to comment on sales and advertising specifics, she did note that so far both fragrance endeavors are on plan. She also said, without elaborating, that Charlie would be further extended this July with another program.
“I have seen a significant improvement over the last year in the way Revlon is handling their fragrance business; it’s nice to see they have had a change in heart,” PayLess’s Ralston said.
“Fire & Ice continues to be strong for us and has rejuvenated things a bit,” she continued. “I am also glad that they are putting their money where it should go. Charlie is a bread-and-butter business and deserves their attention. I have to say, however, I was a little bit disappointed in the results of Charlie Red.”
“I did expect more from the Charlie Red strategy,” Phar-Mor’s Taylor agreed. “I am not sure that they sent a clear enough message that differentiated Charlie Red from the classic brand. I do think, however, this strategy can work for Revlon. Ciara is a strong brand and if the Femme Fatale program is well supported and positioned, it should be successful.
“Fire & Ice did real well for us,” she continued. “It was one of our top-selling brands this Christmas. With continued support, it should become a nice franchise.”