GUERLAIN GETS CHIC FOR SPRING
Byline: Kerry Diamond
NEW YORK — As part of its ongoing effort to transform itself into a contemporary beauty brand, Guerlain is launching more than a dozen new products over the next few months.
The transformation has been a challenge. In the U.S., Guerlain is considered an old-fashioned fragrance house whose most popular scent — Shalimar — celebrated its 75th birthday last year. And in contrast to other older cosmetics companies, like Chanel and Givenchy, Guerlain isn’t part of a fashion house where designers and runway shows help update the brand’s image several times a year.
Marjorie Wollan, president and chief executive officer of Guerlain Inc., the company’s U.S. subsidiary, believes part of the solution is thinking young. This doesn’t mean targeting teens, as some other companies are doing, but it does mean reaching out to twentysomethings with products that are both cool and chic.
“We have to expose ourselves to the customers under 30,” said Wollan. “We definitely had a bit of a dusty image and we’re trying to make ourselves cutting edge but elegant.”
In the process, Wollan hopes to expand the U.S. business more than 10 percent this year. Most of that growth, she noted, will come from full-line doors. “Our business at Neiman Marcus, Saks and all the full-line doors is on fire,” she said.
According to industry sources, Guerlain did $60 million at wholesale in the U.S. in 1999. The sources also noted that the fragrance house had 40 percent growth in cosmetics and 37 percent growth in treatment last year.
Guerlain’s new spring products began hitting counters this month, and the launches will continue through May in what Wollan said is one of Guerlain’s busiest launch periods ever. Some of the new items are extensions of successful Guerlain products like Meteorites, the pearls of color-correcting powder introduced in 1987, and Terracotta, the bronzing powder launched in 1984.
“We’ve never exploited Terracotta or Meteorites, and these are valuable franchises,” noted Wollan. “Last year, we expanded Terracotta into self-tanning and gels, but this is the first expansion for Meteorites.”
For Meteorites, this means a signature fragrance and a cosmetics collection that are meant to mirror the colors in the powder — pearl, pink, purple and green. Meteorites Eau de Toilette, a light scent with notes of violet, iris and heliotrope, will retail for $38.50 for a 1-oz. bottle.
The cosmetics include an eyeshadow pen that will retail for $20; lip gloss for $19; complexion enhancer for $29, and nail polish for $15. There will be five shades of the polish and four shades of the other products. All the items are set to launch in May.
The Terracotta products include a tinted day cream in four shades that will retail for $32 each; a lip gloss in four shades for $19 each, and a limited edition Refreshing Stick that is designed to cool the skin while providing a pearly glow. It comes in gold or copper and will retail for $32.50. These products are in the process of hitting counters.
The Terracotta fragrance, previously known as Quand Vient l’Ete and sold in select Guerlain locations, has been renamed Voile d’Ete and repackaged. The fragrance, with notes of rose, mint, lemon, jasmine, lily, ylang ylang, carnation, iris and vanilla, remains the same. It began hitting counters earlier this month and is retailing for $50 for a 2.5-oz. bottle.
In other fragrance news, Guerlain is getting ready to relaunch Vetiver — the men’s fragrance it introduced in 1960 — with an ad campaign, new packaging and ancillary products. The relaunch will happen this May in time for Father’s Day purchases.
Also that month, a new scent is being added to Aqua Allegoria, the collection of five nature-inspired fragrances that was launched in summer 1999. Called Flora Nerolia, it has notes of neroli, petit grain, orange blossom, jasmine and incense. Ancillary products will follow in July. Ancillary products for the existing Aqua Allegoria scents will launch in May.