TEEN TIME AT RALPH LAUREN
Byline: Kerry Diamond
NEW YORK — Ralph Lauren is tapping into girl power for his newest fragrance.
Ralph — named after his Ralph by Ralph Lauren junior line — is the first scent from Ralph Lauren Fragrances to target members of Generation Y.
“My family has always been a source of inspiration for me and in creating the Ralph fragrance I was inspired by my daughter Dylan and her friends,” said the designer. “This group of young women approaches life with confidence, style and complete optimism.”
Ralph will be launched on Sept. 17 in 1,800 doors, which represents the company’s full distribution in the U.S. and Canada. According to industry sources, it will do $35 million at retail in 2000. A U.K. launch in spring 2001 will kick off the international rollout.
The specific audience for the fragrance ranges in age from 15 to 25.
“These girls are the ceos of tomorrow,” explained Andrea Robinson, general manager worldwide of Ralph Lauren Fragrances. “They are not stopped by gender in any shape or form. They are quite confident and nothing will hold them back.”
Their spending power, Robinson continued, “is enormous,” as is their influence on television, music, movies, fashion and magazines. These young women love “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Felicity,” Teen People and Mariah Carey.
But they don’t seem to love department stores.
As a result, department stores and their vendors have been developing new products and renovating their beauty departments in an attempt to appeal to younger shoppers and draw them away from popular stores like Bath & Body Works. After all, explains Dennis Keogh, vice president of worldwide marketing for Ralph Lauren Fragrances, today’s young women spend $9 billion on beauty products annually.
To get a bigger piece of this pie, several department stores are experimenting with the teen-friendly open-sell format, while others have added brands that appeal to them, from Hard Candy to Tony & Tina and Girl Cosmetics. Tommy Hilfiger Toiletries has built in-store boutiques that feature open-sell shelving, video screens, laid-back sales help and a cosmetics line priced to compete with drugstore brands.
“With Ralph, we’re going to be part of this retail transformation,” said Jack Wiswall, senior vice president and general manager of the Designer Fragrances Division of Cosmair, which holds the Lauren license. “This young consumer is out there and the stores have to bring her in.”
Color is as important to the Ralph project as the fragrance. In fact, the development team described the scent as a “colorful floral,” and it has “mapped out the fragrance according to color,” said Lauren’s Doreen Bollhofer, assistant vice president of product marketing. The five shades that represent the fragrance are green, orange, pink, purple and blue and each corresponds to specific fragrance notes.
Green, for example, stands for apple tree leaves; orange, for yellow freesia, Italian mandarin, Japanese loquat and osmanthus; pink, for magnolia and linden blossom flower; purple, for purple freesia and boronia, and blue, for musk 2000 and white orris.
The Ralph product lineup includes a 1.7-oz. eau de toilette spray that will retail for $37.50; a 3.4-oz. eau de toilette spray for $49.50; You’ve Got Gel, a 6.7-oz. bath and shower gel, for $20; Goodbye Dry, a 6.7-oz. body lotion, for $22.50; Scrubadub, a 6.7-oz. exfoliating body gel, for $25; It Rocks, a 13-oz. tub of bath crystals, for $20, and Spritz Blitz, a 5.1-oz. body spray, for $25.
It Rocks is the most spirited product in the line. It causes the water to crackle and fizz, thanks to an ingredient similar to Pop Rocks, the popular candy that practically explodes in the mouth. The most untraditional item is a feather bracelet that releases the fragrance each time it is snapped onto the wrist. The pricing has yet to be determined for the bracelets.
Color plays an important role in the packaging as well. The eaux de toilette are packaged in turquoise boxes and the clear plastic bottles — designed to look like truncated water bottles — have turquoise labels. You’ve Got Gel features an orange label and an orange box, while Goodbye Dry comes in pink packaging, Scrubadub in green, It Rocks in purple and Spritz Blitz in periwinkle blue.
The playful packaging approach extends to the sampling effort. The traditional vial samples are attached to colorful, two-dimensional flowers and the deluxe miniatures are tiny roll-on bottles.
Wiswall promised the Ralph line would not be shut behind a glass case in the fragrance bar. He said the company was working with its retail partners on ways to display, sell and promote the line that will appeal to younger customers. One thing the company won’t use to lure young shoppers is a gift-with-purchase giveaway.
Advertising for Ralph will appear in “all the media that speaks to this age group,” said Robinson, including radio, TV and print. The print campaign will break in some September books. More than 20 million scent strips will be distributed as part of the launch campaign. Ralph also will be promoted over the Internet, but that strategy is still in the works.
According to industry sources, the promotional war chest for Ralph is around $20 million.
Ralph comes on the heels of Ralph Lauren Romance, the blockbuster fragrance introduced in 1998, but the company is not concerned about Ralph cannibalizing Romance. “We know there are a lot of teens buying Romance, but it is an aspirational fragrance for them,” explained Robinson. “They are buying it for Saturday nights and for their proms.”
In addition to the Ralph campaign, the company will continue to heavily promote Romance. A Romance perfume will launch in May and new advertising visuals will break in the fall.