ELLEN TRACY SCENT GETS A GOOD START

Byline: Pete Born

NEW YORK — The initial sales reaction to the new Ellen Tracy women’s fragrance has been stronger than expected, so much so that Intercosmetics has stepped up its plans to expand the brand.
Instead of launching the remainder of the bath line extensions in January, the company will introduce the ancillary products this fall. In addition, sources have indicated that Intercosmetics executives have significantly raised first-year volume targets. While executives at Intercosmetics refused to discuss numbers, industry sources say the volume target has been hiked from more than $10 million at retail to $25 million to $30 million for the first 12 months.
“We are ecstatic about the Ellen Tracy brand,” said Gail Gordon, vice president of fragrance for Macy’s East. “It is an outstanding juice,” she continued. “The minute it hit the doors it started flying out.”
Macy’s East put the fragrance in 55 of its 80 doors on March 3 and the fragrance hit number one — where it stayed for two weeks, until dropping to number three. Gordon predicted that the brand, which will be rolled out to the remaining Macy’s East doors, will finish the spring season in the top five.
The popularity of the juice is indicated by the fact that a large number of customers are buying the large-size spray. With most launches, Gordon said, 80 percent of the initial purchases are usually in the small size.
Jane Scott, vice president of cosmetics and fragrances at Bloomingdale’s, noted, “It’s doing nicely, with a strong tendency to sell very evenly in every store. I’m happy with the numbers.” The fragrance was launched in Bloomingdale’s Feb. 14.
“We are pleased with the results. It has done well,” said Deborah Walters, senior vice president of cosmetics and fragrances at Saks Fifth Avenue. She said the bath and body line extensions, slated for Mother’s Day, had already reached Saks, and added, “We are seeing strong results.”
Saks and Neiman Marcus premiered the scent with in-store visuals last week, and Macy’s West in San Francisco just recently began the introduction. The fragrance also has been launched at Dillard Department Stores, Nordstrom, Dayton’s, Hudson’s and Marshall Field’s and other stores.
It is now distributed in 500 to 600 doors — mostly where Ellen Tracy has a ready-to-wear business — and the rollout is expected to hit as many as 1,200 doors by August.
Martha Brady, president and chief executive officer of Intercosmetics, admitted that the strength of the reception at Macy’s East took the company by surprise. She attributed the brisk sales to the acceptability of the fragrance and “the power of the Ellen Tracy name.”
The design director, Linda Allard, already has made six personal appearances in stores this year and usually does 15 to 20 a year, supporting all parts of the Tracy business.
As part of the original plan, two bath products — a body lotion and a shower gel — will be launched prior to Mother’s Day, May 14. Those introductions will be accompanied by a value, or “discovery” set, which will consist of a 1-oz. eau de parfum, a 3.4-oz. shower gel and 3.4-oz. body lotion — all for $48.
Those extensions will be followed in September with the introduction of a body cream, bubble bath and body powder. At Christmas, the line will be topped off with a limited-edition perfume.
The line was originally launched with a 1-oz. eau de parfum spray, priced at $37.50; a 1.7-oz. version for $46, and a 3.4-oz. size priced at $62.
The fragrance, developed by Firmenich, is classified by the company as a modern, Oriental spicy floral, with top notes of cinnamon and peach. At the heart are rose and jasmine, interlaced with freesia and carnation. Base notes include cedar, sandalwood and tonka.
The bottle, shaped as a reference to a fashion A-cut, was designed by Marc Rosen.
Sources estimate that Intercosmetics will invest $8 million to $9 million in promotional support this year, which will consist largely of sampling. There will be advertising, complete with scented strips, in eight national magazines. And there will be heavy sampling via a direct mail effort through the stores, including catalog blow-ins and billing enclosures.
Brady estimates that between the magazines and the store-drive direct- mail campaign, 75 million to 100 million scented pieces will be disseminated.
In addition, one million vial-on-card and deluxe mini samples will be handed out. There also will be dramming at counter.

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