RARE BLOOMS INSPIRE AVEDA’S NEW DESERT SCENTS
Byline: Julie Naughton
NEW YORK — The 1998 El Nino season generated much more than mudslides in Southern California. It also caused an unusual turn of horticultural events that made possible the creation of Aveda’s new trio of fragrances.
The unusually large amount of rain that fell in the Mojave Desert that year caused a number of rare desert plants to bloom, many of which had been dormant for decades. The namesake plants of Dune Primrose, Sand Verbena and Joshua Tree — Aveda’s new Desert Pure-Fume trio — were among them.
But Aveda took a novel approach to re-creating the fragrances. “We wouldn’t ever harm a rare plant, so we had to search for other ways to re-create the scents naturally,” explained Dominique Conseil, president of Aveda.
That’s where Peter Matravers, vice president of research and development, and Ko-ichi Shiozawa, director and chief perfumer for Aveda, came in. Using needle-like devices, they captured the scented air around the blooms, recording the aroma of each. Then, the findings were taken back to Aveda’s in-house fragrance lab, where each scent was re-created using other botanical essences — all of which are environmentally sustainable.
The fragrances, which roll out in April, are Dune Primrose, a light, clean floral reminiscent of lilac, with a touch of green and jasmine; Sand Verbena, an outdoorsy, citrusy scent with light green, jasmine and ylang ylang notes, and Joshua Tree, a fresh, clean citrus fragrance with with neroli, bergamot and petitgrain oils, supported by jasmine and vanilla notes. Dune Primrose and Sand Verbena are designed to be calming fragrances, while Joshua Tree is intended to be energizing.
Each of the three Desert Pure-Fumes will be offered in two forms. They are Desert Pure-Fume Absolute, an aromatic oil retailing for $20 for a .24 oz. bottle, and Desert Pure-Fume Spirit, an aromatic spray retailing for $46 for a 1.7 oz. bottle. The three Absolute aromas will also be sold as a trio for $55. All will be available in Aveda’s 95 Environmental Lifestyle stores, as well as in Aveda’s more than 2,000 concept salons and spas.
The scents are significant for another reason: They are the first step in a strategy designed to grow Aveda’s fragrance business from its current 3 percent to 15 percent within the next three to five years. While hair products comprise about 52 percent of the brand’s overall business and are the growth engine for the company, Conseil and his team see significant room for growth with the other 48 percent of the business — including skin care, color cosmetics and fragrances, all strengths of parent Estee Lauder Cos.
“We see great opportunities with the [fragrance] category,” said Conseil, who noted that other components of the growth will include revamping and adding to the existing Inspiritu, Chakra and Personal Blends scent lineups. “Particularly with our existing lines, there is room to clarify their purposes and add elements that are missing.” Conseil said that the next additions to the fragrance category will likely be made this summer and early next year.
The Desert Pure-Fume scents are being launched in conjunction with Earth Month — Aveda’s international awareness campaign focusing on raising money in support of global biodiversity — which coincides with the U.S.’s April 22 celebration of Earth Day. “We wanted to celebrate and support Earth Month, and we will do that in several ways,” noted Daria Myers, senior vice president of global marketing for Aveda. The limited-edition promotions will include Desert Pure-Fume Aroma Cards, with an attached vial of the new Pure-Fume scents, and Desert Pure-Fume Boxed Notecards, each depicting Dune Primrose, Sand Verbena and Joshua Tree in full bloom. The Aroma Cards retail for $6 each; the note card set, which includes three cards of each flower, retails for $12.50.
While neither Conseil nor Myers would comment on retail projections or on advertising budgets for the Desert Pure-Fume collection, industry sources estimated that the line would do about $15 million in its first year, and that Aveda would spend about $1 million on advertising and $500,000 on promotional activities.
Myers noted that Aveda will donate all of its profits from the sale of the promotional items to domestic and international environmental groups, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Ecology Center, the Mississippi River Basin Alliance, New York/New Jersey Baykeeper, and the Spirit of the Sage Council. In addition, the Aveda Network will participate in Appointments for the Earth, which will donate a portion of the price of each salon, spa or in-store service to Earth Month.
While last year Aveda donated $365,000 to 11 U.S. environmental organizations — and collected 120,000 signatures in support of the Tropical Rain Forest Conservation Act — this year the focus is on global biodiversity and clean water. As Conseil explained, “preserving biodiversity — the dynamic web of animals, plants, and humans living together on Earth — keeps the planet and its ecosystems in balance, and clean water ensures that life will prosper. But clean water is becoming a precious commodity as fewer and fewer people have access to it. If we don’t do something, clean water will become a luxury.”