Byline: Cara Kagan
NEW YORK — Clinique is introducing a new men’s scent in November, but it has no intention of plunging headlong into the promotional frenzy of the fragrance business.
With the new item, called Chemistry, Clinique is taking its usual low-key, soft-sell approach. No spritz-blitz, no big ad budgets, no other splashy and expensive trappings of a mega-launch.
Instead, the company will rely on its beauty advisers, an in-store sampling program and a modest advertising campaign to generate sales, and will count on the interest of its loyal women customers and the users of Skin Supplies for Men, its men’s skin care and grooming line.
The idea, according to Clinique executives, is to make Chemistry a part of Clinique’s basic business rather than merely an overnight sensation.
“Our best businesses are our day-in, day-out ones,” said Eunice Valdivia, executive vice president of marketing and finance for Clinique USA, alluding to items such as Clinique’s three-step skin care regimen of cleansing, toning and moisturizing.
“Our goal is to make the fragrance part of a man’s daily routine,” Valdivia added.
John Junas, director of marketing for fragrance and Skin Supplies for Men, added that Clinique views Chemistry as a way to build awareness for the 19-item men’s treatment line, which was launched in 1976.
“The fragrance is being presented as a finishing touch to the Skin Supplies regimen,” Junas said. “We feel that Chemistry may also draw someone else to the counter who was not using Skin Supplies.”
The new scent is expected to increase Skin Supplies sales by about 25 percent next year, Valdivia said. Although she declined to give specific figures, sources estimated that Skin Supplies represents about 5 percent of Clinique’s estimated $500 million wholesale volume, or about $25 million.
A 25 percent increase from the fragrance would mean an additional $6 million at wholesale for the entire line.
Chemistry will be launched in only one size — a 3.4-oz. cologne spray with a suggested retail price of $30.
“The Clinique customer has always been value-driven,” Junas said, “so we made the price point one of the lowest in department stores.”
For support, Clinique is reportedly spending around $500,000 on a print campaign targeted to break before Christmas.
It will break in December issues of magazines such as GQ and Sports Illustrated, as well as magazines still to be selected that attract both a male and a female audience. The campaign will run through the spring up until Father’s Day, Valdivia said.
The ad, photographed by Irving Penn, features a shot of the bottle next to a glass holding a comb, a razor and a toothbrush.
The idea, Junas noted, is to reinforce the concept that Chemistry is as basic to a man’s daily maintenance program as shaving, combing the hair and brushing the teeth.
The company will also presample the fragrance in October and November through the distribution of one million minisprays and scented cards at store counters.
“What we are really relying on is an in-store push,” Valdivia said. “We feel that men will hear about the fragrance through the women in their lives. There are so many women coming to the Clinique counter every day. That gives us a nice little entry point.
“Also, we have the added advantage of all of our beauty advisers,” Valdivia added. “Most men’s fragrances are sold at the fragrance bar, and they don’t have a private consultant to explain the fragrance.”
Chemistry is described as a fresh, clean scent. Its top notes are ginger ale and Jamaican ginger. The middle notes are black pepper, clary, sage and jasmine. The dry down is made up of woodsy, balsam, musk and amber notes.
Clinique first took a stab at the men’s fragrance market in 1984, with a scent called Tailoring. According to Junas, Tailoring was discontinued in 1988 due to “minor production problems.” He declined to provide sales figures for the product.
The company wanted to be better prepared before launching Chemistry, so it decided to spruce up its Skin Supplies line first. In March, the company launched Turnaround Lotion for Men, a version of Clinique’s top-selling women’s treatment product, Turnaround Cream.
Sources estimated it would generate $3 million at wholesale in its first year on counters.
In July a new Skin Supplies tester unit made its debut, along with updated in-store literature on the line. In addition, the company repackaged all of its tubes, adding flip-top caps.
“We wanted to make sure that when people came to the counter to sample the fragrance, the whole men’s line was together,” Junas said.
The introduction of Chemistry is just one way the company plans to build a bigger fragrance business overall.
In the last two years, Clinique has also stepped up efforts behind its Aromatics Elixir women’s scent, launched in 1971.
The company added three ancillary products — a body smoother, a body wash and a powder — which it then packaged into the brand’s first-ever Christmas gift sets last year. This year, four Aromatics Christmas gift sets are slated to hit the stores.
Aromatics Elixir was also sampled for the first time last year, and the company is continuing the effort by distributing about one million minisprays and scented cards at counters this fall and next spring.
“We launched Aromatics in the typical quiet Clinique way and every year its sales have increased,” Valdivia said, adding that the brand has survived for more than 20 years with practically no support.
“We started focusing on the fragrance more as part of the trend toward making Christmas a more important part of our business,” she added. “Fragrance gift sets are a big part of Christmas and you can’t have a gift set without ancillary products.”
Right now, Aromatics and Clinique’s other women’s scent, Wrappings, which was launched in 1990, make up around 5 percent of Clinique’s volume, or an estimated $25 million.
Valdivia and Junas noted that the company’s goal was to build that fragrance volume to 7 percent of total sales next year and 10 percent by 1996.
“Fragrance is a business that is out there,” Valdivia said. “We don’t want it to be an overpowering one for us, but there is a potential to make it bigger while staying true to ourselves.
“A company always needs to find ways to attract new customers to the counter,” she added. “A fragrance is one of them.”