CK ONE, A SINGULAR SENSATION, SPAWNS MULTIPLE IMITATIONS
Byline: Faye Brookman
NEW YORK — Calvin Klein is no longer the only One.
The wildfire success of CK One, which industry sources estimate rang up wholesale volume of $50 million to $60 million last year in only a couple of months in stores, has spawned a host of mass market copycats.
As with the original, the knockoffs are targeted at men and women under age 25. But unlike the prestige version, which has a suggested $35 price tag for a 3.4-oz. bottle, the mimics cost less than $15.
The mass market launches include U You from Parfums de Coeur Ltd. of Darien, Conn.; DQI One from Designer Quality Impressionists, New York; QK Too, from Deborah International Beauty Ltd. of Ronkonkoma, N.Y.; A Man & A Woman by Jean Philippe Fragrances, New York, and Chromosome XX XY from Parfums Vision International Ltd. in Edgewood, N.Y.
Two other fragrance firms, Richard Barrie Fragrance Inc. of Orange, Conn., and Fragrance Impressions Limited in Bridgeport, Conn., also have upcoming launches designed to tap into CK One’s appeal to younger customers.
Although executives at Calvin Klein Cosmetics didn’t want to talk about the barrage of CK One imitators, mass market retailers did.
“We think they will do well because CK One isn’t a complex fragrance to copy,” said Stephanie Hayter, buyer for Genovese Drug Stores in Melville, N.Y.
June Taylor, buyer for Phar-Mor Inc. in Youngstown, Ohio, added, “There is interest in the mass market for a CK One-type product.”
The hope is that the mimics will attract younger users to the alternative designer fragrance market, which has traditionally skewed older. Another reason buyers are clearing their shelves for the launch is the fact that “we can’t get a single piece of CK One from diverters,” one source said.
Although a handful of chains did have a few pieces of CK One last Christmas, they would not reveal how they had procured it.
Industry experts estimate that a single, successful CK One interpretation could hit wholesale sales of $10 million in the first year, and there are now a half dozen imitators coming to market.
Attracting a great deal of attention is Parfums de Coeur’s U You. Demand has been so strong, according to company president Mark Laracy, that the firm moved its ship date up from March to Feb. 15. U You will be available in a 2-oz. spray with a suggested $9.50 retail.
Retailers said Laracy’s pioneering track record in the alternative designer fragrance business should give him an advantage. Denise Valerio, category manager for Longs Drug Stores in Walnut Creek, Calif., said that Parfums de Coeur fragrances have been a hit, leading her to believe that U You will follow suit. Taylor at Phar-Mor agreed that the program looks strong.
Laracy noted,”We’ve been in the business for 14 years, and we’ve advertised since 1985.”
If U You is successful, Laracy said it will be advertised during the summer.
“We’re going to get our toe in the water and see how it does,” he said.
Parfums de Coeur will also launch an imitation of Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflowers, called Ocean Beach, and one of Polo Sport, called Hall of Fame, later this year.
Chromosome XX XY was the first of the CK One mimics available at retail. The product hit stores such as Walgreen Co. just before Christmas. Retailers singled it out for its upscale packaging.
“The packaging is really nice,” noted Valerio at Longs.
“What we’re trying to do is bring prestige quality to the mass market,” said Gary Savage, president of Parfums Vision and a former executive with prestige firms such as Gale Hayman, Diane Von Furstenberg and Yves Saint Laurent.
“It is a fragrance that is a step above alternative brands and can stand on its own as a brand,” he said of Chromosome XX XY. Experts estimate the brand could have first-year volume in the $6 million to $8 million range.
Shipping Feb. 15 is DQI’s interpretation of CK One, called DQI One. The 3.3-oz. product will be available in a counter display and will retail for $9.99.
“It is an identical match to CK One,” said company president Joe DeKama. He added the line will be treated separately from the existing line of Designer Quality Impressionists scents. “We think it will appeal to a younger user.”
Deborah International Beauty Ltd., a division of Quality King, will ship QK Too on March 1. It will carry an $11 suggested retail price for a 4-oz. spray, according to Jeff Stahl, national sales manager.
Jean Philippe’s entry is called A Man & A Woman and will be priced at $9.95 for a 6.4-oz. bottle. The product will ship March 1. The package has a man on one side and a woman on the other, said Terry Augenbraun, executive vice president of Jean Philippe.
Two other manufacturers are also trying to lure younger customers with launches. In July, Richard Barrie will introduce Melrose Place, a licensed scent based on the popular Fox TV show. “Melrose Place” is number one in its time slot with women ages 18 to 29.
The Melrose Place fragrance will be aimed at men and women and will carry a suggested price of $10 for a 0.5-oz. bottle and $15 for a 1-oz. spray. Industry sources expect it could achieve first-year sales of $10 million.
Fragrance Impressions, another leading alternative designer supplier, is taking a different tack to reach younger consumers. The company is launching a new line of fragrances called Designer Mists that will have more youthful packaging and its own display.
The fragrances are knockoffs of prestige scents that appeal to young customers, such as Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds, Sunflowers, Liz Claiborne and Calvin Klein’s Escape and Eternity.
“It is a whole new approach to reaching the younger market,” said Karen Freeman, vice president of marketing for Fragrance Impressions. “We think the trend is bigger than just one fragrance.”
However, a CK One addition to the line is in the works, she said. Pricing on Designer Mists will be $8.50 for a 1-oz. spray and $2.95 for a 2-oz. body spray.
“Younger shoppers know the designer labels from visiting malls. Nobody is targeting them with alternatives,” Freeman said.
Industry sources said the line could generate as much as $15 million to $20 million in sales.
Buyers said they won’t carry all of the knockoffs of gender-neutral, younger scents.
“Most will go with two,” said one of the suppliers. “But I’m not sure if this whole approach will work for the mass market and the ADF shopper. It might be too sophisticated for them.”