ALFRED SUNG’S SHI: BALANCE OF NATURE

Byline: Pete Born

NEW YORK — Alfred Sung is trying to bring harmony to the topsy-turvy world of fragrance.
In August, his fragrance licensee Riviera Concepts will launch Shi, the Shanghai-born designer’s latest women’s fragrance. The name is an expression for water in Chinese, and the top of the metal cap is imprinted with the Chinese symbol for the liquid. The glass bottle is shaped to resemble a drop of water and it sits atop a wooden pedestal that comes packaged with the product. The metal of the cap, the glass of the bottle and the wood of the base are meant to suggest a balance between nature’s basic elements of earth, fire, wood, water and minerals.
Andrea R. Gerson, director of product development for the Toronto-based Riviera Concepts Inc., said the concept of the fragrance rests on the principles of feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of object placement and orientation that promises a more harmonious environment, which has gained widespread influence in the West in recent years.
The other foundation for the concept lies in the recent trend among consumers of spending more quiet time at home and trying to invest a little spirituality into their lives.
“People are spending more time at home,” she said. They are also going to spas for vacation and turning to aromatherapy products. “Consumers are using candles to create moods at home,” Gerson said.
The tag line of the print advertising is “reflect the calm within.”
The fragrance, developed by Firmenich, has top notes like water lily and fig leaves that are meant to evoke clarity. The midrange, with its orange blossom and frangipani, was designed to create an aura of femininity. The base notes, offering a water musk accord and silver birch notes, provide balance to the structure.
The line contains a half-ounce perfume, which will retail for $95; a 1.7-oz. eau de parfum, priced at $49; and a 3.4-oz. size for $68. There are three ancillary products: a 6.8-oz. shower gel for $24, a $31 body lotion and a hand cream that comes in two sizes. The full 7-oz. size will be packaged with a 1.8-oz. version designed to be carried in a purse and the price tag will be $20.
Byron Donics, president of Riviera Concepts of America Inc., pointed out the price of the ancillary items is 20 percent below the department store average. The objective, he said, is to steal some business from the midmarket toiletry chains like Bath & Body Works. “We would like to get some unit volume going in department stores,” he said.
Generally, a prestige fragrance line does about 15 percent of its sales in ancillaries, he noted, adding that the goal here is to expand that proportion to 20 percent.
Riviera also has another goal in mind: to make Shi the best selling of the Sung fragrances. The stable so far includes the 1988 debut scent, Sung, and Sung Homme, which was added the following year. There’s also Alfred Sung Forever, a 1995 entry, and Pure.
Shi will be rolled out from August to October in about 500 doors in Canada and the U.S., including divisions of Federated Department Stores, Nordstrom, Dayton’s, J.L Hudson as well as Marshall Field’s and Lord & Taylor. In Canada, the distribution will include The Bay, Sears, Roebuck & Co. and certain reopened Eaton’s doors. The line will also go into the Caribbean and duty-free doors.
Donics sees the distribution topping out at 1,500 doors by the fall of 2001.
While the company did not offer a sales projection, executives did say they were shooting for the top 10 for fall in the 500-door distribution. That would amount to $10 million to $12 million at retail. That is with a promotional war chest of $3.5 million to $4 million.
In addition to an advertising campaign, the company will undertake a major sampling program, handing out one million LiquaTouch samples, and the launch will be kick-started with a special “token of appreciation” offer. Consumers who make a $49 purchase will be given a 0.68-oz. eau de parfum purse spray.

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