NEW YORK — Celine Dion is topping the charts.

This story first appeared in the November 14, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Coty Beauty fragrance, designed to compete head-on with the prestige fragrances that have been flooding the mass market, was the top-selling scent in mass doors in both August and September. According to Information Resources Inc. data, the celebrity scent grabbed a 7.5 percent share with sales of $1.5 million and an 8.7 percent share for retail sales of $1.6 million, respectively. The figures exclude sales at Wal-Mart. In September, Celine secured more than double the sales of the second best-selling brand, Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds.

During the four weeks ended September 7, the total fragrance market was up 5.7 percent to $18.5 million for the month. “It is the first growth in the female market in 18 months,” noted John Galantic, president Coty Beauty. However, total market sales slipped again for the four weeks ended Oct. 5, with sales down 6.9 percent. However, sales of Coty brands bucked the trend, rising 17 percent for the period. In addition to Celine, Coty markets The Healing Garden Waters, Adidas Moves for Her among others.

The Celine scent first made its debut this spring in midtier department stores, including J.C. Penney’s, Kohl’s and Sears, and beauty retailers Ulta and Sephora, where it also became a bestseller in its first weeks on counter. It rolled into mass doors this summer.

Galantic said Coty’s intent was to create a brand to compete with the discounted prestige fragrances. He said the success of Celine demonstrates that the way to grow the market is “with a brand proposition that is exciting.” Galantic said Celine brings real prestige pricing to the mass market: The 1.7-oz. is $32. Coty executives have blamed mini versions and travel sizes of prestige scents, which typically retail for anywhere between $6.96 and $14.99, for eroding the market. The 0.5-oz. Celine is being priced from $18 to $20.

Galantic pointed out that the positive sales results have even come without full support. “We still have most of the media spending to come,” he said, speaking of the 2003 budget. Based on early numbers, he added, “We are hoping for a good Christmas.”

For spring, Coty Beauty already is planning ancillaries for the department store venues, including an exfoliating body lotion, a seasonal scent and a purse spray.

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