BURBERRY: FROM TRENCHES TO TOUCH

Byline: James Fallon

LONDON — Burberry is one of the hottest brands around. Now it wants the same image for its new fragrance line.
The British luxury company, which has been revived in the last two years by Rose Marie Bravo and her team, will launch Burberry Touch in September in association with its licensee, Inter Parfums of France. The women’s and men’s fragrances are a step toward making Burberry as big a player in beauty as it is in fashion and accessories.
“We wanted to introduce a fragrance with all the modernity that we’ve brought into the brand over the last two years,” said Bravo, the former president of Saks Fifth Avenue who started her retail career as a buyer and merchandiser in cosmetics and fragrance.
Bravo sees the launch of Burberry Touch as another milestone in the makeover of the brand, which has been transformed from stodgily British to modern and hip with a focus on such Burberry classics as the trenchcoat and the trademark plaid, reinterpreted for today. The fragrance launch will come as Burberry unveils the new look for its retail stores with the opening of its 13,000-square-foot flagship store on New Bond Street here. The store will be the major showcase worldwide for the high-end Burberry Prorsum collection of women’s and men’s wear and accessories.
“Our aim was always to have a fragrance that launched around the time of the opening of the New Bond Street store,” Bravo said. “We felt it was important to have a fragrance that reflected what we are doing with the brand in fashion.”
Inter Parfums acquired the Burberry fragrance license in 1993 and has launched two scents in the last seven years — Burberry London in women’s and men’s versions and Burberry Weekend, also in women’s and men’s fragrances. These four scents have ex-factory sales — based on prices well below wholesale — of about $27 million a year, said Philippe Benacin, president of Inter Parfums. But he admitted they’re more mass market than Burberry Touch.
“Burberry Touch targets more the fashion-oriented customer,” said Benacin, who projected first-year ex-factory sales of about $13 million for the fragrance.
Burberry Touch will be in about 10,000 doors worldwide the first year. The launch of the fragrance marks the first time Burberry has rolled out a scent in the U.S. at the same time as in Europe and the Far East. In the past, the U.S. market launch trailed the others by up to two years.
In the U.S., where Burberry fragrances are distributed by Adipar, Touch will be in about 180 doors in the first year, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Burberry’s own stores, said Sharon Connolly, vice president and general manager of Adipar, the brand’s American distributor.
“The other two fragrances were launched in the U.S. in 1997 and are primarily in department stores,” she said. “The new ones are at a higher price point and are much more limited, which marries to the new image of Burberry.”
Touch will cost about 20 percent more than Burberry’s other fragrances. A 0.5-ounce perfume will retail for $95 and 1.7- and 3.4-ounce eau de parfums will retail for $55 and $75, respectively. The men’s fragrance will retail for $45 for a 1.7-ounce eau de toilette and $60 for a 3.4-ounce size.
Inter Parfum will follow the fragrance launch with the introduction of about 10 women’s and men’s bath and body products in spring 2001, Benacin said.
Burberry Touch has been in development for the last two years, with the intimate involvement of Bravo, Burberry creative director Roberto Menichetti and Fabien Baron, the creative director for the company’s ad campaigns. The trio and the rest of the Burberry team searched through archives looking for inspiration for bottle designs. The result, designed by Baron, resembles a thick-bottomed tumbler straight out of a British gentlemen’s club.
The top is a made of a dark-stained wood with a clearly visible grain and the box is an updated version of the iconic Burberry plaid, in pale tan for the women’s version and gray for the men’s. The fragrances come in a cotton gabardine pouch that echoes the fabric used in Burberry’s famous raincoats.
Inter Parfums plans to spend about $13 million on Touch’s advertising and marketing in the first year, Benacin said. The main focus will be on major fashion and beauty magazines in each geographic market, beginning with the October issues. The imagery, developed by Baron, echoes the feeling of the Burberry’s fashion advertising in new beauty ads with models Stella Tennant and Nathan Bogle in different outdoor settings.
“We wanted to reinforce our fashion imagery to add another aspect to the launch,” Bravo said. “The idea was to emphasize the new Burberry — it’s aristocratic yet accessible, country and city, classic yet modern.”
The fragrances — the women’s is colored pink and the men’s, blue — are the same. The women’s fragrance, developed by Quest International, is a mix of floral notes such as California orange and rose with lily, peach juice, vanilla and cedarwood. That same note is featured in the men’s version, developed by Firmenich, which combines cedarwood with mandarin orange, vetiver and pepper.
In the end, one of the easiest things in developing the new fragrance was coming up with its name. Bravo, Menichetti and Baron knew what they wanted to achieve with Touch, so the choice of name was a natural one.
“We wanted to play up Burberry, so we wanted a name that would help describe the brand,” Bravo said. “Touch describes everything we do — the plaid, the cashmere, the gabardine — and there’s also the sensuality involved in the word. It’s synonymous with what we’re doing here in fashion and accessories and what we’re moving toward.”
She added, “It is the Burberry Touch, the new spirit of Burberry.”