INTUITION SET TO MAKE U.S. DEBUT IN APRIL

Byline: Pete Born

NEW YORK — Estee Lauder is ready to apply some of its Intuition to the U.S. fragrance market.
The fragrance of that name, designed to land in the top 10 globally, was launched overseas last fall and is now coming home to America. It will have a soft introduction with an exclusive in Saks Fifth Avenue from April through the end of May. In June, a rollout will begin to Lauder’s full department store distribution.
Dan Brestle, president of Estee Lauder USA & Canada, has no less-ambitious plans for the fragrance than was embarked upon last fall for international. The American president is shooting for the top five.
The Lauder division now has two fragrances in the top three, with Beautiful in first and Pleasures in third, Brestle noted.
Another goal is to make Intuition the top-selling oriental scent in the U.S. Karyn Khoury, senior vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide, noted that orientals generally form the second best-selling fragrance category — behind florals — in every major market, except Spain, where florals and citrus scents lead the pack.
Although Lauder does not break out sales figures or advertising budgets, a top-tier sales ranking would translate into at least $50 million at retail.
According to industry sources, Lauder will back the U.S. launch of Intuition with a war chest totalling nearly $20 million, 80 percent of it being in print and TV advertising.
In one respect, this introduction follows the long-held Lauder tradition of launching every fragrance at Saks, but the company is breaking ground in other ways.
In addition to Saks, Intuition will be launched on Lauder’s Web site. “It’s the first time we’ve used the Internet to launch a new fragrance,” said Sandy Cataldo, senior vice president of marketing for Estee Lauder USA & Canada.
Plans call for sending e-mails to consumers registered on the Lauder Web site, which now numbers about 200,000.
This launch also differs in that Intuition will be included in Lauder’s Christmas blockbuster. “It’s the first time we’ve put a fragrance in the blockbuster,” Cataldo added, noting that Intuition will be included as a deluxe sample.
Brestle added that one reason why the company decided to take this unusual step is to breathe new life into the purchase-with-purchase offer, which has become an overly familiar staple of the department store holiday selling scene. “The blockbuster has been challenging for us for a couple of years,” Brestle noted. The hope is that the inclusion of Intuition “will make it a more interesting piece.”
The new fragrance certainly will provide ammunition. According to executives both in the domestic and international divisions, Intuition did well overseas, particularly in Anglo-Saxon markets like the U.K.
In an earlier interview, Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, president of Estee Lauder International Inc., said that Intuition had achieved its goal of cracking the top 10. In Britain, it ranked in the top 10 of every major department store group, he said. In November, it hit number one at Marionnaud, France’s biggest perfumery chain. He described the reception at Douglas as “OK.”
Industry sources estimate that Intuition’s foreign sales last fall amounted to $75 million at retail, putting it on plan. Lauder originally projected sales of $100 million for the first 12 months through this spring and summer.
“Women love the scent,” said Daniel M. Annese, vice president of fragrance marketing at Estee Lauder USA & Canada. With that in mind, the division is maximizing sampling in terms of vials, scented strips and other scented materials. One vehicle will be mailers. Cataldo noted that Intuition will be sampled in the six million to seven million mailers that will be sent out announcing Lauder’s fall gift-with-purchase promotion.
The fragrance, developed by Firmenich, comprises a new olfactive definition, what Khoury calls a “luminous oriental.” It is an oriental that is “lighter, more fluid and modern,” she noted, adding that the architecture of the scent is supported by three “olfactive movements” — warm amber, skin-like sensuality and textured floralcy. The formula fits into the positioning, she said, of “serenity, sensuality and glowing femininity.”
The point is underscored by the advertising, featuring Elizabeth Hurley, which was photographed by Patrick Demarchelier.
The line at launch will be short, consisting of two items, or three stockkeeping units. An eau de parfum will be available in two sizes, a 1.7-oz. bottle retailing for $45 and a 3.4-oz. size priced $65. There also will be a 6.7-oz. body lotion marked $38.50.
In the fall, there will be one Intuition gift set. Cataldo noted, “we want to concentrate on building basic business.”
Brestle pointed out that Intuition is set on a three-year plan. The rest of the ancillaries will be launched next spring and in fall 2002, the brand will be supported by a full complement of gift sets.