ARMANI BUILDS MALE BASE

Byline: Pete Born

NEW YORK — At Giorgio Armani Parfums, it’s time for a little more Mania.
Following the launch in September 2000 of the women’s version of the fragrance brand, the Designer Fragrances Division of L’Oreal USA is poised to introduce a men’s rendition, called Armani Mania. In the process L’Oreal executives hope that the addition will add to the strength of the 1997 entry, Acqua di Gio for Men, and reinforce a column of sales strength on the men’s bar.
The women’s Mania has been positioned in the market as a couture brand with a specialty store distribution numbering about 300 doors. While the company does not break out sales figures or advertising budgets, industry sources estimate that the women’s scent does nearly $6 million a year in retail sales.
Acqua di Gio has a distribution of 1,850 doors and an unstoppable momentum. Sources say the brand has been gaining 12 to 15 percent ahead of the department store average in its fifth year of development, with $80 million in retail sales.
Serge Jureidini, general manager of Giorgio Armani Parfums and Cosmetics, quoted NPD BeautyTrends in asserting the Acqua di Gio ranked number one in the men’s market for 2001.
In addition, L’Oreal is planning to launch a new Armani women’s fragrance, a new scent altogether, in Europe in the fall, with a U.S. introduction tentatively set for next spring. That project is reportedly being viewed as a highly commercial endeavor.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S., the newest men’s scent, Armani Mania, will be launched in 1,850 doors also during the first two weeks of August. It is now being launched in Europe.
Part of the strategy behind Armani Mania is that it is closely allied with the designer, which according to surveys, enjoys immense credibility among male fashion buyers. Meanwhile, Acqua di Gio has built up its own loyal following over the years.
Jureidini said the company plans to drive both fragrances, with an increase in advertising and sampling behind Acqua di Gio and a forceful effort behind Armani Mania. “We anticipate no cannibalism,” said Jureidini. In fact, he suggested the new scent could drive business to the old one.
Armani Mania, developed by Quest International, is described as a warmer fresh, woody amber fragrance, compared with the fresher, oceanic Acqua di Gio. The new fragrance is slightly more expensive with the 1.7-oz. eau de toilette priced at $42.50, compared with $39.50 for Acqua di Gio. There are six stockkeeping units in the new line.
L’Oreal is aiming for the top five with Armani Mania. That would mean achieving a volume of $35 million at retail for the first year. The launch will be backed with a media budget estimated by sources at more than $12 million for the first 12 months, which will include national ads in nearly 20 men’s, women’s and lifestyle magazines. About 50 million scented strips will be included with the ad, which was photographed by Steven Klein and features James Penfold. Jack Wiswall, president of the Designer Fragrances Division, added that there will be a co-op TV campaign, probably in 20 markets.
Wiswall acknowledged that the aggressiveness of the promotion campaign is partly motivated by the competitiveness of the season. There will be tidal surge of department store fragrance launches this fall, half of them men’s. “We are launching this fall when everyone else is there,” he noted. “We need to find a way to break through.”

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