A GLAMOUROUS TURN FOR RALPH

Byline: Pete Born

NEW YORK — Less than a year after the successful launch of Ralph and just shy of two years following the benchmark introduction of Romance, Ralph Lauren is back at the women’s fragrance bar with a new scent called Glamourous.
“We have a huge opportunity in the women’s fragrance market,” said Andrea Robinson, who was recently promoted to president of the Ralph Lauren Fragrances Division Worldwide of L’Oreal USA. “One of our objectives is to gain market share,” she added, noting that not only does Lauren have momentum in the women’s category right now but the softness of the market underscores the reality that few companies can match L’Oreal’s ability to flex the financial muscle needed to mount a mega-launch.
Quoting NPD BeautyTrend figures, Robinson said the Lauren brand grew from a 3.3 percent market share in U.S. women’s fragrance in 1998 to 6.3 percent at the close of 2000 — despite having an image as a men’s house. The total Lauren franchise grew from 5.9 percent to 8.8 percent during the same period.
L’Oreal does not break out sales projections or ad budgets, but the Lauren division is shooting for a ranking in the top five following its early September launch. That would translate into a first-year retail volume of $45 million to $50 million. To attain that level, the division has amassed an advertising and promotion war chest of $15 million.
A print and TV ad campaign, both shot by Bruce Weber, will star Penelope Cruz. The magazine ads will be accompanied by 20 million scented strips in about 15 women’s and fashion magazines. The TV spot also will be adapted to run in cinemas.
Executives conceded that Glamourous will have to compete with two other well-muscled launches — Lancome’s Miracle, which has already won strong reviews here, and Estee Lauder’s Intuition. Jack Wiswall, president of the designer fragrance division, said Glamourous will be launched in the full Romance distribution — 1,800 department store doors — with a launch account in each major market, Wiswall said, adding that he feels the fragrance has strong enough “legs to bring us more Ralph Lauren installations.”
The brand now has about 15 corporate counters, and more would be welcome to give the franchise permanent counter space and beauty advisers to call its own. That would come in handy not only to develop the fragrance business but provide a home for Lauren’s anticipated entry into the color cosmetics category, which Robinson said could happen in late 2002 or early 2003. A mate men’s scent is in the wings.
The positioning of Glamourous is luxury driven by self-confidence, based on four main trends: women have so completely broken through the glass ceiling that they feel glamorous in their sense of self. Also, sensuality is a major theme now, Robinson said, pointing to the Academy Awards where, “there was a lot of skin showing.” Finally, there is the issue of control. “Women are designing their own lives,” Robinson said. “It used to be called ‘doing it all.’ Now that’s taken for granted.”
There are four items in the line — two eau de parfum sprays in 1.7 oz. and 3.4 oz. sizes, priced $52 and $70, respectively, and a 6.7 oz. body moisture for $39.50 and a $35 bath and shower gel.
The fragrance, developed by Harry Fremont at Firmenich, is described by Lauren executives as “an extravagant floral.” “Voluptuous” and “sultry” are some of the words used by Doreen Bollhofer, assistant vice president of fragrance product development.
Where this departs is that olfactive themes are tied to physical objects to make them more understandable. A luminous, sparkling wet fluid quality is tied to a pearl, the warmth of Casablanca lily is symbolized by suede and the warm creaminess of cashmere musk and vetiver comes out as cashmere.
Topping off the story of luxury is a jeweled inset, cubic zirconium, artfully positioned in the top of the gold cap.