JEAN PHILIPPE’S LAUNCH STRATEGY: FOLLOW THE ALTERNATIVE ROUTE

Byline: CARA KAGAN

NEW YORK — Jean Philippe wants a slice of the mass market knockoff fragrance business.
While the company has a $75 million retail alternative designer fragrance (ADF) volume from other channels of distribution, the company has had no mass market entries up until now.
But it started to remedy the situation in March with the introduction of A Man & A Woman, a knockoff version of Calvin Klein’s latest blockbuster, CK One.
A Man & A Woman will be followed by two other mass ADF entries. Romantic Illusions, a collection of imitations of 12 department store fragrance brands, will hit stores in July. It will be followed by Jordache Denim, a group of three knockoffs designed to appeal to a younger set that is scheduled to bow in December.
Jean Philippe’s two existing alternative fragrance lines, Elite and Jean Philippe, are sold in about 13,000 apparel chains, such as Strawberry and Fashion Bug, as well as at Woolworth’s.
“There is no denying that the alternative designer fragrance market is huge,” said Terry Augenbraun, president of Jean Philippe’s Premier division, which markets the company’s cosmetics and fragrance brands. “It has grown from a $95 million retail business to a $275 million business in just 10 years. It certainly makes sense for us to go where most of the action is.”
Augenbraun noted, however, that despite its prodigious volume, in recent years the segment’s growth rate has declined. Last year sales increased by 10 to 12 percent, as compared to consistent gains of over 20 percent in the late Eighties and early Nineties.
“The industry is experiencing somewhat of a plateau right now, but we feel that by taking an innovative approach to the category we can inject some vitality into it,” Augenbraun said.
The company will ship the Romantic Illusions collection to 14,000 mass market doors. Each fragrance will be housed in a folding carton that is designed to look like a paperback book, complete with a graphic resembling the cover of a romance novel.
The packaging will also carry short story lines that pertain to the imagery of the fragrance. For example, the copy for the Opium knock-off will tell the tale of a woman in an exotic location.
“When we decided we wanted to be involved in the mass market alternative designer fragrance business, we realized we had to go after an unexploited opportunity in order to differentiate ourselves from the other players out there,” said Bruce Desonne, vice president of fragrance marketing at Jean Philippe. “Romance novels are a billion-dollar industry and comprise nearly 40 percent of the paperbacks sold in the mass market. Why not capitalize on women’s interest in these books to create our own niche?”
Augenbraun added that he expected the line’s unique positioning and packaging to broaden the consumer base of alternative designer fragrances.
“Typically ADFs are not much of a gift-giving item,” he said. “We think that because Romantic Illusions tells a story and has attractive packaging, it will have gift-giving, as well as personal purchase, implications.”
Jean Philippe will support this gift-giving positioning with a $1 million print and radio ad campaign that will run during the month of December.
Desonne noted that the company was in discussions with romance novel publishing houses for possible consumer promotions and tie-ins.
Romantic Illusions will include alternative versions of eight prestige women’s brands: EstAe Lauder’s Beautiful; Calvin Klein’s Escape, Eternity and Obsession; Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds; Opium by Yves Saint Laurent; Chanel No.5; and Giorgio Beverly Hill’s Red.
Four copycat men’s scents will be marketed under the name Powerful Impressions by Romantic illusions. For the collection, Philippe has cloned Obsession for Men, Eternity for Men, Lancaster’s Davidoff Cool Water and Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche.
Each 3.3-oz. spray in the entire line will have a suggested retail price of $9.95.
Augenbraun projected that the new collection could achieve a 10 percent share of the $275 million mass market alternative fragrance business in its first 12 months, or a retail volume of over $27 million.
Romantic Illusions marks the company’s second foray into the mass market knockoff arena, following A Man & A Woman. The CK One knockoff is expected to reach a distribution of 12,000 to 14,000 mass doors by the end of the year.
A 6-oz. spray will have a suggested retail price of $9.95.
Last December, Jean Philippe launched a variation of the unisex CK One called 2 Elite under its Elite umbrella, and brought the scent to its fashion-store accounts. According to Augenbraun, in three months, 400,000 bottles of 2 Elite were sold. At $4.95 a pop, that would give 2 Elite a three-month retail volume of almost $2 million.
Augenbraun is projecting that A Man & A Woman will have somewhat more modest sales, due to the onslaught of CK One imitators in the mass market. At last count, there have been entries from at least four other companies.
“We think that we will probably sell about 400,000 units for the year,” he said. “Consumers will probably try every version [that has a promotion] this year, so total sales will be spread out across all of the brands.”
If 400,000 units of A Man & A Woman are sold this year, that would give the fragrance a first year retail volume of almost $4 million.
Jean Philippe is also addressing ADFs through its Jordache license.
In December, the company will launch Jordache Denim, a collection of three imitative fragrances aimed at younger consumers.
The collection will consist of Red Denim, a version of Giorgio’s Red; White Denim, a Vanilla Fields by Coty alternative, and Blue Denim, the company’s take on Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflowers.
“Alternative fragrances typically attract older consumers,” Augenbraun said. “We thought we would capitalize on the young Jordache clothing franchise to pull younger consumers into the category.”
The Denim collection will be presented at retail as holiday stocking stuffers with a 0.5-oz. spray selling for $4.95. Full 3.3-oz. sizes, priced at $9.95, will be on shelves early next year.
Augenbraun predicted that 8,000 to 10,000 pre-packs, each containing 18 units, would sell over the Christmas season. That would give Denim a retail volume of $712,000 to $891,000 this year.
“We plan to tie-in with the trends in Jordache jeans by introducing other Denim fragrances in the hottest, fastest moving and trendiest colors in the fashion collection,” Augenbraun said.
The Jordache Denim line not only imitates certain best-selling scents, but is borrowing a marketing concept from a prestige manufacturer.
Late last year designer Gianni Versace introduced Red Jeans and Blue Jeans, a women’s and men’s scent, respectively.
Both the soda bottle-type packaging and the accessible price point — 2.5-oz eau de toilettes for under $30 — were designed by Versace to capture a fashion forward and youthful audience. According to David Alfin, president of FMG, the company that distributes the Versace scents in the U.S., each fragrance is meant to be a collector’s item; a new color jean with a corresponding scent is planned to hit the market every 12 to 18 months.
“If our Denim concept is successful, we will definitely be out there with other versions,” Desonne of Jean Philippe said. “There are a lot of colors of denim out there.”