DEEP POCKETS FOR DEEP FOREST
Byline: Pete Born
NEW YORK — Lancaster Group is betting a bankroll that it can turn an obscure German brand into a global winner.
The gamble involves the June launch in Europe of Deep Forest, a new men’s fragrance by Willy Bogner, the former Olympic skier whose skiwear company has been one of the sport’s most prestigious brands for many years. Bogner also produces sportswear for men and women and has made numerous movies about skiing.
Lancaster, whose German subsidiary is based in Wiesbaden, has had the Bogner fragrance and cosmetics license for over 10 years. Wholesale volume has grown to $17 million, according to industry estimates, but the business has been confined to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, duty-free shops and tourist-heavy areas of Spain. Deep Forest will initially be distributed only in those markets.
David May, senior vice president of fragrance marketing of Lancaster Group Worldwide based here, said the company, which has established seven global brands since 1990, is limiting the focus of the business to match the distribution of Bogner’s apparel, which May described as “small, precious and elitist in its feeling.”
With parkas priced at $600 and $700 and sweaters at $350, Bogner is “the Tiffany of skiwear,” May added.
For five years — ever since it was acquired by Benckiser of Ludwigshafen, Germany — Lancaster has been engaged in a series of brand rollouts.
Not only has the company been establishing subsidiaries in the U.S. and other foreign markets, such as Australia and the U.K., but it moved its global headquarters to New York a year ago.
As for Deep Forest, Lancaster hopes it will show enough potential for a global rollout.
He added that the plans for Deep Forest are more ambitious than for a local launch, calling it “the first step in a global program.”
Although TV advertising is not included, Lancaster will employ some aggressive promotional tactics, such as eight-panel foldout magazine ads, a blizzard of print, radio spots and scented strips.
“This is taking launch techniques from the U.S. into Germany,” May said.
He did not break out costs, but sources indicate that Lancaster has budgeted $5 million for advertising Deep Forest this year and earmarked another $3 million for sales promotion.
About 85 percent of the spending will be in Germany, with the remainder in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Lancaster hopes Deep Forest will generate more than $10 million in wholesale volume this year, with 75 to 80 percent of that in Germany.
About 65 to 70 percent of the Bogner business is done by its five-year-old scent, Bogner Man, with the remainder represented by a women’s line called Bogner Bath & Body. Nine of Bogner’s women’s and men’s fragrances — none of which have been sold in the U.S. — are being phased out, May said.
Although Bogner Man has been showing increases of 10 percent a year, the scent suffered from what May called the “incongruous” combination of high tech package design, coupled with romantic advertising that was keyed on nature.
Now, Bogner Man has been repackaged and will be relaunched at about the same time as Deep Forest.
The company reportedly is hoping to pick up an 18 percent increase in this year’s sales. In addition, Lancaster aims to move Bogner Man up in the volume rankings of German prestige men’s fragrances — from 20th to the top 10.
Some promotional materials have been designed to feature both fragrances. One example is the Deep Forest ad — a panoramic photo of the Amazon River — that has been enlarged and turned into a window display. On the back of it is a reproduction of a Bogner Man ad showing a man looking at a waterfall. The display can be flipped to show either of the two fragrances.
The print ads are also coupled and will appear adjacent to each other at times.
The positioning of both fragrances involves man’s relationship with nature. For the Deep Forest ads, Lancaster sent a photography crew and some of its executives to the homeland of Bogner’s Brazilian wife, Sonja.
The campaign is expected to have more than the usual impact. Not only will it feature two million scented strips in a region where they are seldom seen, but the advertising is being employed in unusual ways. One of them, to be used in the financial sections of newspapers, is to splash the color photo of the Amazon amid the gray expanse of stock exchange listings.
Willy Bogner is a board member of Artists United for Nature, and social responsibility figures in the Deep Forest launch. In October, Lancaster will sponsor a sweepstakes — purchase-related giveaways are outlawed in Germany — in perfumeries. The first 20,000 people to sign up will have trees planted in their names in an area outside Dresden that was deforested during World War II and never replanted.
Although Bogner’s company is privately held and results are not disclosed, industry sources have estimated its volume at $285 million (396,150,000 marks) for 1994. The apparel is sold in two wholly owned stores in Germany and 1,000 other retail units, mostly boutiques. In New York, there is a licensed store on Madison Avenue, and there are shops within Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus stores.
May said Lancaster will cross-merchandise in the German stores by attaching scented hangtags from Bogner clothes.
The Deep Forest scent, developed by Creations Aromatique, was described by May as “fresh on top, but warmer in the middle and heart.”
As they are with Bogner Man, the price points are near the middle of the German prestige market. The seven-item line includes a 50-ml. eau de toilette spray, priced $36 (50 marks) and a 100-ml. version for $56 (78 marks).
Deep Forest will be aimed at a slightly younger audience, age 18 to 35, than Bogner Man, which caters to an 18-to-49-year-old group.
The distribution will include 80 department stores in Germany: Hertie and Karstadt in Frankfurt, Oberpollinger in Munich, Brueninger in Stuttgart and the giant KaDaWe in Berlin.
But perfumeries — primarily Douglas and the Parma and Yaska co-operative associations — will make up the bulk of the retail network, numbering 1,800 to 1,900 doors in Germany alone, according to May.
He cited the Schwitzler chain in Dusseldorf and Walkenhorst stores in Hamburg as particularly productive.
Combined distribution for all the launch countries will total slightly less than 3,000 doors, May said.