COTY SMILES WITH PRETEEN BATH ENTRY

Byline: Faye Brookman

NEW YORK — Anastasia Ayala, senior vice president of global fragrances for Coty Beauty U.S., is all smiles about Smiley, a new bath-and-body launch for young girls.
Her merriment comes from the fact that, with the introduction of Smiley, Coty is entering the lucrative preteen bath market, hoping to repeat the success it has had in the adult bath-and-body category with Calgon.
Industry sources estimate the nine stockkeeping-unit collection of body sprays and lotions could add as much as $12 million to $15 million to Coty’s coffers in first year sales.
“And,” added Ayala, “the line is just so much fun.” The products are colorful and bear the Smile icon and Smiley name, a property Coty has licensed from Smiley Licensing Corp.
By aiming at a relatively new market for Coty, girls aged 7 to 13, Coty executives are kicking back and thinking like preteen girls. The cornerstone of the launch — products are just hitting shelves this month — is a Web site called Smileydivas.com. Although there is also print advertising in magazines such as Cosmogirl and Tiger Beat, the main marketing thrust is on the Internet. “We wanted this to be multidimensional so we could have girls interact with the site,” said Ayala, who believes the marketing for Smiley needs to go beyond traditional print ad campaigns.
Characters assigned to the five fragrance flavors come to life on the Web site. “These are not just fragrances, each scent has a personality,” said Ayala. The flavors are Cool Diva, a strawberry; Wild Child, a melon; Cha Cha Chica, a coconut; Flower Power, a floral; and Sweet Love, a caramel. On the Web site, each “diva” has a story and there is a guide to help browsers determine what fragrance suits their personality. As an example, Cool Diva is on the hunt for fashion advice, while Cha Cha Chica is seeking out the celebrity scoop. Wild Child is into sports; Flower Power wants to help the environment. The three flavors Coty feels will be the strongest — Cool Diva, Cha Cha Chica and Wild Child — all have companion body lotions. The other two only have sprays.
The 5-oz. bottles carry a suggested retail price of $4.95. There will also be gift sets that are changed periodically, including special Christmas offerings where the characters are dressed up for the holidays. The first gift set features a body spray, a nail polish and a lip gloss and retails for under $10. “This is a fickle, moving target audience so you have to provide them with something new,” said Ayala.
Despite the presences of cosmetics items, Ayala said she doesn’t plan to extend Smiley into cosmetics. She’s not ruling out, however, more body and hair care items.
According to Sarah Irby, marketing manager, the Web site will be updated monthly to keep it fresh for viewers. “These are users who are very proficient on the Internet and they like newness,” she added. The preteen portal also has a screen saver, a diary and decorating tips. Ayala hopes to tie into charities since many young girls are interested in social interests. “We want this line to be proactive, to raise self-esteem and to be very positive,” she said.
The buy-in from retailers has even surprised Coty executives. “We know the consumer is there, but retailers don’t know how to reach them. Many don’t have departments yet,” explained Ayala. The interest in Smiley, however, has exceeded her expectations and proved retailers want to tap more of the preteen spending.
Young girls, according to Coty research, spend $24 billion of their own money — $11 billion of it on beauty and fashion.
And, by age 12, 68 percent of girls use fragrance. Coty hopes its efforts will result in more of those girls seeking fragrances in mass doors. In total, Smiley will be in about 18,000 doors including Wal-Mart, Target, Duane Reade and Walgreens.
Unfortunately, many of the dollars being spent are going to specialty stores. In an effort to court tweens, chains such as Target and CVS with Grl Lab, had tried to build boutique departments. CVS, for example, is putting Smiley displays out as part of its Girl Lab youth department. With marketing to young girls still in its infancy, Ayala said Coty has devised department layouts to fit Smiley into a variety of departments ranging from bath to cosmetics.
Ayala admitted that there are other scents and bath lines aimed at preteens such as Bonne Bell’s Bottled Emotions, Barbie, Caboodles and Parfums de Coeur’s Juice Bar. She believes Coty’s entry will only help build visibility. Eventually, she hopes to see more retailers create “tween” sections.
A handful of retailers who have seen Smiley give it a thumbs up. An executive at CVS remarked:”When Coty gets behind something, it really takes off, so this could help our teen efforts.”