NEW YORK — Bypassing the plethora of celebrity scents, 13-year-old Kristyn Klinck selected fragrances to give as holiday gifts that captured the spirit of her friends.

She picked a variety of fragrances from a line called So…? For one girlfriend, she opted for So…Wild?; for another, So…Desirable? Klinck is an example of many young shoppers taking an anticelebrity route and looking for scents that don’t need to be hawked by a superstar.

This trend could send shivers through the spines of executives at Elizabeth Arden, one of the foremost marketers of celebrity fragrances. But that hasn’t happened, since Elizabeth Arden is the exclusive U.S. distributor for So.

“Anybody can go out and get a celebrity and a lot of them are successful, but we go one step beyond and actually create the celebrity…the girl herself,” said Karim Gangji, chief executive officer of Incos Ltd., the creator of the So scents.

The fragrance line was launched in the United Kingdom in 1994 by Yardley and then acquired by Incos in 1999, following Yardley’s liquidation. In late 2005, Elizabeth Arden was appointed the exclusive U.S. distributor, and there are plans to extend the distribution beyond existing retailers, which include Kohl’s, Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart, CVS, Sav-On, HEB, Meijer, Eckerd, Claire’s and Sears. Its U.S. distribution is between 10,000 and 12,000 doors, according to Incos.

The company says it plans new doors and exciting programs with existing retailers. “We will continue to focus on retailers who capture both these young consumers and those who are in the market for a teen/tween fragrance gift. Secondly, we will nurture the brands at existing retailers with unique promotions to freshen the selling space,” said Greg Griffin, vice president of trade marketing for Elizabeth Arden.

The mass market fragrance business has been rough, especially this past Christmas season. According to ACNielsen, sales of women’s fragrance rose only 2.9 percent to $498 million for the 52-week period ended Dec. 2, 2006, for food, drug and mass retailers (excluding Wal-Mart). So…? is providing retailers with an avenue for growth. “This reminds me of Love’s Baby Soft from the old days. Kids really like the fragrances and identify with them,” said one buyer. “And we see multiple purchases, perhaps for different moods.” The So tag line is “fragrance with an attitude,” which is designed to appeal to the teen audience. “We are very focused on our market, and we provide what they want,” explained Gangji.

This story first appeared in the January 12, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The So collection has a good track record in the U.K., where it is among the top-10 female fragrances. The brand is also sold throughout Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, Asia and Australia for a total of almost 45,000 doors.

There are four fragrances currently available in the U.S. with plans for So…Sinful? to bow in the spring, followed in fall 2007 with So…Superstar? The price point is certainly one key in sales to youthful shoppers with the body spray priced at $4.50 for a 2.5-oz. can and $16.95 for a 1.7-oz. eau de toilette. There are eight scents sold internationally, making So brands ripe for U.S. expansion. The company also believes So is a great entry point for new users of fragrance.

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