COTY’S ASPEN TAKES A NEW PATH

Byline: Faye Brookman

NEW YORK — Coty Beauty aims to put men in touch with their spiritual side.
With the introduction next month of a new scent called Aspen Discovery, Coty is adding a choice to The House of Aspen that is more introspective. “The original Aspen is about thrill seeking and adventure,” explained Rita Herzmansky, senior marketing director for the House of Aspen. “Discovery is the opposite. It is about a personal journey and finding your own path.”
Coty also hopes Aspen Discovery will find a route to sales, while helping boost volume on the mother brand introduced in 1989. “That is one of the benefits of flankers,” added Eric Thoreux, Coty Beauty president. “The support behind the new product builds the original, too.”
Because of the different positioning, Thoreux believes there will be little cannibalization from the original Aspen.
According to statistics from Information Resources Inc., Aspen shaving lotion, cologne, talc and gift set sales reached $24 million for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 30. Although it has the seventh-biggest sales in men’s scent in mass doors and the fourth-best sales for gift pack, volume was down 7 percent for the period, according to IRI.
Industry sources estimated the Aspen offshoot could have first-year retail sales of $12 million to $15 million. Although Coty declined to comment on that estimate, Thoreux said flankers rarely outsell original brands. “You hope to grow the mother brand, and if you get 80 percent [of the original], you consider it to be a success,” he explained.
Fragrance buyers at mass market chains said the fresh positioning of Aspen Discovery should renew interest in the brand. Coty also extended Aspen with a woman’s scent in 1998, called Aspen Sensation, that ranks in the top 15 women’s brands.
According to Thoreux, Discovery delivers a more sophisticated product to the mass market that he feels bridges the gap between mass and diverted prestige brands. He hopes Discovery will further stoke sales in the men’s market and give retailers a way to rack up gains without resorting to diverted brands.
“The brand has a prestige look; we want to bring another benefit to mass fragrances — class for mass,” he added.
Discovery prices start at $10 for a 1-oz. aftershave and top out at $19.95 for a 1.87-oz. cologne spray — a few dollars above traditional Coty prices. Prices, however, are below those of Coty’s last men’s hit, Adidas Moves. The opening price for Adidas Moves is $12.50 for a 1-oz. eau de toilette spray.
With few contenders in the mass fragrance arena, Coty continues to expand its grasp of the market. “The overall category is up 7 percent, and Coty brands are up 12 percent,” said Thoreux, citing IRI. He added that Coty would continue its strategy of fortifying its core men’s properties, including Stetson, Jovan, Adidas and Aspen. “We are saying, ‘Let’s not do 26 new things. Let’s do one and make it big,”‘ he said.
As part of the intellectual and spiritual positioning of Aspen Discovery, the fragrance includes ingredients said to be calming, soothing and balancing and that are known to enhance concentration, focus and self-awareness. The fragrance is created with notes indigenous to Aspen, opening with a crisp mountain air accord with notes of citrus, ozone freshness and leafy green. Anise leaf and mountain sage provide a hint of spice. The introspective accord is from blending Colorado blue spruce, ivy geranium and white pine. “In some ways, this is a Healing Garden for men,” said Thoreux, referring to the aromatherapy properties incorporated into Coty’s popular bath and body line.
The Zen-like feeling of the fragrance is carried through in a simplified print ad created by Coty’s in-house ideas and image creative division. The tag line is “Find Your Own Path.” According to Thoreux, an exhaustive sampling effort is planned. “This is one of the scents that we believe if people try, they will buy,” he said. There will be 40 million magazine scented strips as well as samples in kits distributed at health clubs and other appropriate venues. There will also be a trial size at $4.95 for the introduction.

Frank Newman, chairman and chief executive of J.C. Penney’s drugstore division, Eckerd Drug, has resigned to become chief executive of More.com. Newman is a seven-year veteran of the drugstore chain, based in Clearwater, Fla.
He is also the outgoing chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. John Fesperman, a member of Penney’s executive committee, will assume Newman’s role while a permanent successor is being sought to lead the 2,900-store chain.
Two weeks ago, Penney’s announced it would close 289 of Eckerd’s stores to cut costs. In November, Penney’s approved the spinoff of 20 percent of Eckerd as a tracking stock. The company delayed the spinoff and said it was expected to happen in the third or fourth quarter of this year.
More.com is an online purveyor of vitamins, beauty supplies, medicines and other products. Newman succeeds More.com co-founder Don Kendall Jr., who assumes the role of chairman. In an interesting twist, More.com is allied with another major drugstore chain, Phar-Mor Inc. A special site will be set up this spring allowing shoppers access to the product selection of both Phar-Mor and More.com at one Web address.

More Fred Meyer executives are migrating to Rite Aid Corp. As part of new management’s plan to improve merchandising, customer service and overall store operations, Rite Aid announced it had hired two former Fred Meyer Stores executives as senior vice presidents.
Murray Todd, former group vice president of store services and procurement at Fred Meyer, has been tapped as senior vice president of store operations and procurement.
Marty Tassoni, a 29-year Fred Meyer veteran who has held a variety of buying and merchandising positions, has joined Rite Aid as senior vice president of category management. Both will report to Jim Mastrian, executive vice president of marketing and merchandising.

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