NEW YORK — Babies may smell naturally sweet, but some European consumers have taken to dabbing a touch of perfume behind their wee ones’ tiny ears.

BerjangUSA, a U.S. distributor, seeks to bring that European practice Stateside by introducing of a line of fragrances and personal care products based on the children’s book “Le Petit Prince.” Best known in the U.S. as “The Little Prince,” the book was written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and was first published in 1943.

The French fragrance firm UniPar introduced the range of Le Petit Prince products — tailored for children zero to 10 years old — in France nine years ago. Today, the line’s five brands — including Le Petit Prince, La Rose du Petit Prince, Le Petit Prince B612, Dessine Moi un Mouton and Les Triples — are found in 1,300 shops across Europe. The collection’s European sales for last year exceeded 1.5 million euros, or $1.9 million at current exchange, with worldwide sales totaling 2.5 million, or $3.2 million.

Now, BerjangUSA forecasts the timing is right to make a bid for the U.S. market. “Americans are ready for European trends,” said Maziar Aghalarpour, executive director of BerjangUSA, referring to children’s fragrances. Aghalarpour commented that his five-year-old daughter puts a dab of La Rose du Petit Prince, a girl’s fragrance with notes of clementine and grapefruit peel, on her neck each morning.

The aim is to gain ground in 200 to 250 high-end baby boutiques and department stores in the U.S. this fall. If all goes as planned, the company expects the products to generate first-year retail sales of $500,000 to $750,000.

He acknowledged that Americans may be a bit skittish about children’s scents, but said: “It’s not harmful. It’s beautiful. The packaging is what will attract the kids, the name will attract the parents.”

Like its target audience, the market for children’s scents is tiny. Euromonitor estimates U.S. sales of children’s fragrances have held steady at $20 million for the last few years. But BerjangUSA sees opportunities in the country’s burgeoning birth rate. According to U.S. Census data, there were more than four million babies born in 2004.

The company will officially introduce the Le Petit Prince range and its original scent, Le Petit Prince Spray, at Cosmoprof North America next month. The $26 spray, or $28 for the alcohol-free version, is housed in a frosted glass bottle decorated with an illustration of Le Petit Prince. It contains notes of citrus fruits, tarragon, verbena, cedarwood and oak. The company plans to host book readings this fall in New York and Los Angeles to present the fragrances to U.S. consumers.

This story first appeared in the June 23, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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