NEW YORK — Larry Couey keeps diving in — even if it means swimming upstream a bit.
Maybe Couey’s inspiration is derived from being based along the banks of the Delaware River in artsy New Hope, Pa. Or maybe it’s that he’s weathered enough ups and downs over a 25-plus year career in the beauty industry to know business has its cycles.
Whatever the motivator, Couey, founder and president of Revelations Perfume & Cosmetics, is preparing to launch another scent in the troubled mass fragrance market. According to Information Resources Inc. sales of mass market women’s fragrances slipped 6.8 percent to $363 million for the year ended Feb. 23, excluding Wal-Mart. While sales of Revelations’ women’s scent Truth still represents less than 1 percent of the market, it has been showing promise. Retail sales increased 31 percent to $820,000 for the same period. Adding Wal-Mart — which accounts for 20 percent of Revelations business — brings its total retail sales to more than $1 million. Revelations also markets a men’s scent — Truth for Men — and has extended the women’s Truth brand into scented lotions and gels.
Meanwhile, in the spirit of David and Goliath, Couey continues a legal battle with Calvin Klein over the sale of Calvin Klein’s Truth fragrances in mass market outlets. In 2000, Revelations sold the Truth trademark to Calvin Klein with the provision that Revelations can develop the Truth Revelations line for sale in food, drug and mass merchant stores. Couey claims Calvin has violated the agreement by allowing the sale of Calvin Klein Truth fragrances in mass doors. The lawsuit, filed in September 2002, is still in the discovery phase.
The latest fragrance from Revelations — Loving — will be in stores for Mother’s Day. The positioning, like Revelation’s Truth and Truth for Men, is uplifting. “We aspire to live in a loving world and we each need to play a part in the effort to bring it forth,” says the company in marketing materials for the scent. The tag line for the scent is “Soft and Reassuring. Always New.” A sensual floral, Loving, is a blend of Italian mandarin, pink pepper, Turkish rose, water jasmine, lily of the valley and the essence of white gardenia. It is finished with white musks, blond woods and sheer amber. It was designed by Wessel of Englewood Cliffs, N.J. A 3.4-oz. eau de parfum spray is $21.95; the 1.7-oz. is $15.95. There is also a 0.5-oz. purse spray for $7.50. Couey declined to comment, but sources predict Loving’s first-year sales could hit $1 million to $1.5 million.
Couey says that Revelations is “here for the long haul. We are trying to build successful brands.” CVS, Eckerd, Duane Reade, Albertson’s, Longs and Brooks Drug, have already agreed to take on Loving, according to Couey. And a men’s version — Loving Man — will be out in time for Father’s Day 2004, he added.
To support its fragrance lineup, Revelations has created two ad campaigns. One spread will feature Truth on one side and Truth for Men on the other. The other campaign will offer a page for Loving and a page for Truth. The ads will contain scent strips and appear in spring and fall magazines.