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Lasting Luxury: Fine Fragrance Update



Fragrance houses and retailers remain optimistic this holiday season despite a cautious economic climate.



Published November 9, 2005
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Lasting Luxury: Fine Fragrance Update


Overcrowded shopping malls and daunting last-minute purchases may be a thing of the past. According to industry experts, our hard-hit economy is causing consumers to scale back on buying in general, and extraneous purchases—including gifts—may suffer significantly this holiday season.

According to fine fragrance marketers, however, all is not lost. Balancing the desire for unique, self-pampering goods with a reduced budget has caused consumers to turn to less costly outlets. According to industry professionals, these dual needs have placed smaller-ticket luxury items in a unique position: consumers are foregoing a new car or designer handbag and reaching instead for a new fragrance or lipstick.

Jean Paul Galutier will suprise gift recipients with its Classique gift sets, which open to create a whimsical tree.
The NPD Group, Port Washington, NY, reported sluggish sales for prestige fragrances from January through July of this year, but noted that cosmetic sales rose to $3.1 billion during the period. NPD chalked this up to a shift toward affordable luxuries amid a grim economic climate, a trend that is predicted to continue.

NPD reported that for fragrance sales, men's prestige experienced a modest 1% growth from January to July to $356 million, while the women's category grew 4%, to nearly $714 million.

"The economy will take a toll on many luxury items," warned Laura Lee Miller, president, Unilever Prestige. "As people tighten their purse strings, they will become more thoughtful about holiday gift-giving."

However, Ms. Miller agreed that fragrance will remain an attainable avenue for self-pampering. "We are hopeful that prestige fragrance will remain one of the few accessible luxuries," she commented. "Fine fragrance is a small personal indulgence that makes the person who offers and receives it feel good."

With the holidays coming up, fragrance has its chance at reclaiming at least a portion of the growth it experienced in former years, dire predictions notwithstanding. According to NPD, men and women still prefer the classics, or extensions of well-known lines.

Top women's fragrances in the first half of 2001 included Beautiful (Esteé Lauder), Happy (Clinique), Pleasures (Esteé Lauder) and newcomers Miracle (Lancôme) and Romance (Ralph Lauren). Men's top picks were Acqua Di Gio Pour Homme, Romance Men (Ralph Lauren), Eternity for Men (Calvin Klein), Curve for Men (Liz Claiborne) and Obsession for Men (Calvin Klein).

Gift sets, always a top pick during the holidays, will offer the additional appeal of being more economical than individually-purchased items, according to industry professionals, and top fragrance players will offer more options than ever.

Oscar de la Renta entwines silver with its single-colored fragrances and ancillary products for a look that is both festive and classic.
"Holiday gift sets offer a warm, personal touch and value at the same time," said Hilary Dart, president, Calvin Klein Cosmetics. "The key for a successful holiday season is gift sets that give consumers value and luxury at the same time."

A Reason to Celebrate
Prestige fragrance houses are maintaining a festive air and giving even economy-wise and budget-conscious consumers a reason to celebrate.
Factors in creating and distributing a successful scent and holiday campaign vary, according to industry experts. For example, women tend toward visual appeal and an overall sense of empowerment and well-being. "Modern women like to have a choice," commented Ms. Miller of Unilever. "Women wear fragrance like fashion. Their fragrance needs to accent their personality and individuality."

By contrast, men lean toward functionality and a scent that is clean but not heavy. "Men want functional, simple benefits when they are shopping for a fragrance," Ms. Miller opined. "Essentially, clean, fresh, masculine and attractive is what they are looking for."

Unilever caters to men with Nautica Latitude/Longitude. Holiday shoppers can choose from two gift sets this season, each appropriately named to highlight the line's sense of adventure. Nautica Elements of Adventure contains a 3.4-oz. EDT spray, 4.2-oz. After Shave Comfort gel and a 4.2-oz. Comfort shave cream; it retails for $59.00. Nautica Passport to Adventure comprises a 3.4-oz. EDT spray and 2-oz. All Day deodorant and retails for $46.

Unilever has also introduced BCBGirls Holiday Gift Sets to Go, a collection that celebrates the inner girl, according to the company. The line includes four sets: Nature Holiday to Go, Star Holiday to Go, Metro Holiday to Go and Sexy Holiday to Go. Each set contains a 1.7-oz. eau de toilette spray and 6.7-oz. of body lotion. The sets retail for $45 each.

Calvin Klein will introduce a number of gift sets for the holidays, including the Eternity Luxury Holiday Moments collection. The set, which is valued at $105, will be offered for $65, an incentive consumers may need this season to make a purchase, according to executives.

"We have to meet the needs of the most discerning consumers this holiday season by providing high quality, high value offerings," said Hillary Dart, president, Calvin Klein Cosmetics Com-pany. "Holiday gift sets offer a luxury, a warm, personal touch and value at the same time."

The company also plans to launch a number of new products after the new year, though details have not yet been made public. "We are really excited at Calvin Klein because, while it is too soon to disclose details, we will have more newness in 2002 than we have had in any year in our history," Ms. Dart revealed.

Updating the Classics
Well-established fragrance houses are dressing up for the holidays with new packaging concepts and a playful attitude. Jean Paul Gaultier's Classique, Le Male and Fragile will be cloaked in shiny material, vibrant colors and a tree which opens to reveal the perfumer's holiday sets this season. The central stem of the tree can be removed, creating a pop-out bag on springs which rocks back and forth and adds a dimension of humor and surprise to the product's presentation.

Issey Miyake's holiday tree (in either pink, blue or white) includes Le Feu d'Issey, L'Eau D'Issey Pour Homme or L'Eau d'Issey Light fragrances and products, respectively.
Gaultier's Le Male holiday collection includes a 4.2-oz. eau de toilette natural spray and a 3.4-oz. all-over shampoo; it retails for $69. Fragile will be available either with a 1.6-oz. eau de toilette natural spray and 6.7-oz. perfumed body lotion, retailing for $68, or a 1.6-oz. eau de parfum spray and 6.7-oz. perfumed body lotion, for $88. Classique will feature either a 1.6-oz. eau de parfum spray, 1.3-oz. body lotion and 1.3-oz. bath and shower gel set for $75, or a 1.6-oz. eau de toilette spray with 6.7-oz. beauty lotion for the body, at $75.

Issey Miyake's holiday concept also revolves around a tree. When the gift set is closed, it resembles a hat; when pulled up, it reveals a contemporary holiday tree and a collection of Miyake's classic fragrances and scented products.

The perfumer will feature a different-colored tree for each scent: L'Eau d'Issey will be encased in white, Le Feu d'Issey and Le Feu d'Issey Light will feature pink and L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme will be blue.

The L'Eau d'Issey White Tree sets include either eau de toilette and pure body lotion, or eau de parfum and gentle body cream, each retailing for $64. L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme Blue Tree sets include eau de toilette and all-over shampoo for $55 or eau de toilette and deodorant stick, for $58. The Pink Tree collection will include Le Feu d'Issey in either eau de toilette natural spray and body lotion, for $64, or eau de toilette, bath and shower gel and body lotion, for $54.

Oscar de la Renta's gift set for women includes 1.7-oz. eau de toilette natural spray and ActivZe body lotion, for $55; So De La Renta, encased in pink packaging, includes 1.7-oz. eau de toilette natural spray and 4.2-oz. hydrating body lotion for $50. Oscar for Men, with its signature eau de toilette natural spray and 4.2-oz. aftershave balm, is also available for the holidays and retails for $45.

Cultural Exchange
Current economic stability may have pushed fine fragrances slightly behind more affordable cosmetic and personal care items, but fragrance houses are finding ways around this stumbling block and are remaining optimistic.

Newcomer Mambo, Liz Claiborne's tribute to Latino style, fared better than some new launches for a variety of reasons, according to company executives. Timing was a factor: the fragrance was launched well before the economy dipped to caution levels in September, and an all-out marketing campaign crossing a wide range of demographics provided the scent with a firm place at the fragrance counter.

But according to Liz Claiborne executives, it is the attitude the fragrance portrays that has given it real leverage among its longer-standing fellow fragrances. "Hispanic is hip," commented Neil Katz, president, Liz Claiborne Cosmet-ics. "Latin culture has become mainstream. It is a powerful trend that we believe is a natural way to connect with a diverse audience of 18-34 year-olds."

This tradition of ground-breaking concepts follows along the lines of other Liz Claiborne launches, including Curve, a fragrance which in 1996 was marketed as the industry's first master brand to be simultaneously launched to men and women. Curve's sales grew from $75 million in 1995 to $175 million in 2000 and was re-launched in the first quarter of 2001.

Mambo delves into relatively un-charted territory as far as prestige fragrances go. Though the concept is based on a specific culture, the fragrance has appeal to a variety of ethnicities, Liz Claiborne executives insisted.

Latino style is evidenced in music, sports, film and fashion, with Latin music sales climbing 25% last year, Claiborne executives said. The company hopes to achieve the same popularity in the fragrance segment. "Liz Claiborne is the first to acknowledge this trend in the fragrance category," said Mr. Katz. "There is a tremendous affinity for the sensuality and the confidence expressed in Latin culture—a fun, sexy attitude that has great validity to the young people of Gen-X."

In order to cross a variety of categories, the company launched a $20 million promotion and advertising campaign. Print ads broke in September in women's, men's and dual-audience magazines, while a TV commercial aired in English, Spanish and Span-glish versions.

"The appeal of Mambo transcends ethnicities. The Latin dance beat of the Mambo TV commercial will be readily understood," insisted Art Spiro, vice president, marketing, Liz Claiborne Fragrances. "Mambo makes the statement that Latin culture is authentic and alluring—it is the new aspirational category."

Does The Nose Know When It's Love?
I t's a well-known fact that fragrance can evoke emotional response, but researchers in Germany are taking the concept a step further, insisting that scent can influence the potential success of love partnerships.

Hans-Georg Rammensee and a group of colleagues at the University of Tübingen have built an electronic nose" that can measure differences in scents associated with MHC genes, which code proteins in the immune system.

According to their research, animals—specifically mice—seek out mates with different MHC genes to endow their offspring with a varied portfolio. Though it has not yet been proven whether humans utilize the same system in selecting mates, the group has suggested that such tests could potentially determine whether men and women are suited to one another and even predict the odds of divorce in a given couple.

The e-nose contains coated quartz crystals to which the odor molecules stick, and a series of semiconducting metal-oxide gas sensors. Gases react with oxygen on the sensor surfaces and change their conductivity, according to the researchers. The computer then identifies the patterns of each smell. "It's very sensitive—it can distinguish different brands of coffee, for example," insisted Mr. Rammensee.

According to Mr. Rammensee, humans mask MHC smells with perfumes and deodorants, so a partner may only subconsciously register them after a long exposure. Researchers have speculated that sociologists could use the machine to test this idea by testing divorced couples and determining whether they have a higher incidence of MHC incompatibility than successful couples.

"It is speculation," admitted Mr. Rammensee, but if successful, e-noses of the future could potentially sniff out the best—and most compatible—husband or wife.

Lancôme's newest fragrance, Miracle, another new scent that has been welcomed by consumers, will add two SKUs for the holidays: Shimmering Solid fragrance and Radiant Body creme. The scent speaks to both a woman's softer side and a desire for a fragrance that is approachable rather than overpowering, according to Lancôme executives.

Miracle Shimmering Solid fragrance adds sparkle to the skin and is purse-sized for convenience, according to company executives. It retails for $38. Radiant Body creme is luxurious, perfumed and melts into the skin to leave it moisturized and delicately scented; it retails for $50. Both products will be available in fine department and specialty stores nationwide this month.

What a Concept
Fragrance as a holistic concept—taking into account mind and spirit as well as body—has been on-trend for the past decade, and according to industry experts, shows no signs of slowing. Products that celebrate individuality have appeared in virtually all personal care sectors, and fragrance has played a large part in the cosmetics renaissance.

New fragrance products, as well as ancillary products to existing scents, are geared toward evoking an experience, whether it be nostalgia, modern independence or a re-embracing of femininity following the previous decade's strong attitudes and lines.

Caswell-Massey relaunched Casma, a "dazzling fragrance from the past," according to the company. Casma is a tribute to the Roaring Twenties, with an art deco box and a bottle shaped like a flapper-style evening shoe.

The original version of Casma was first launched in 1922. By relaunching the scent, the company hopes to envelop the wearer in the attitude of the times, when startling fashions, attitudes and unconventional behavior ruled the day despite prohibition and other restrictions, the company said. Soft, intoxicating notes make Casma a nostalgic fragrance that women of today can appreciate as well.

Casma ancillary products may be purchased as a gift set, which includes perfumed shower gel, perfumed body lotion and soap. The set retails for $30. Individual items include the fragrance itself, Casma Petite perfume, retailing for $25 for 1/6-oz.; perfumed body creme, for $20; Satin & Silk body powder, for $20; perfumed soap, for $16; perfumed body lotion, for $18 and perfumed shower gel, for $16.

Histoire de Parfums, Miami Beach, FL and Paris, France, utilizes the knowledge of creator Gerald Ghislain and the highest French traditions of luxury fragrance, according to company executives. Each scent is reminiscent of a different era and environment. They include 1873 (a manicured French garden), 1804 (a sweet, fruity potion), 1826 (a powdery, white flower dream), 1876 (an exotic, Oriental affair) and 1828 (for the well traveled male). The line also offers colognes: Vetiver, Lavender, Naturelle, AmbrZe and Chevrefeuille.

Nautica Latitude/Longitude introduced Passport to Adventure and Elements of Adventure gift sets.
Passionflower Perfume Poems combines visual art elements with classic fragrances to create five fresh, simple scents, according to company executives. The line was started in 1999 with the launch of its first scent, Daisy, followed by Butterfly, April, Passionflower Signature Scent and most recently, Poppy.

Passionflower Perfume Poems feature modern packaging and contain poems which were the inspiration for each fragrance, according to creator Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. The scents retail for $30 for 1-oz. or $50 for 2-oz. purse-size rollers, lotion, sparkle gel, EDT spray and pure oil are also available.

Scentuous Fragrances, Naples, FL, takes the guesswork out of fragrance with a line of scents that complement one another. The premier fragrance, Scentuous, has a light, floral scent and comes in body lotion, hair mist and an eau de parfum. Essence for Men has a slightly warmer scent with woody tones. The line is available in salons and spas.

A Social Conscience

Many fine fragrance retailers are giving something back by aiding the less fortunate. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. in September, retailers have stepped up their efforts to send portions of their profits to the places they are most needed.

Parfums Givenchy, New York, NY, announced that both its U.S. and French arms will donate a portion of all fragrance holiday gift set sales from mid-October through December to the Twin Towers Fund. The special promotion is called "Together...Red, White and Blue." "We hope this example of compassion and support can inspire each of us, in our own ways, to deal with this tragic event and move on with the same courage, spirit and determination that is the foundation of our great nation," explained Michael Feuling, vice president, marketing and advertising, Parfums Givenchy.

The Fragrance Foundation, in cooperation with the Sense of Smell Institute (SOSI), is helping to reassemble a sense of peace with a series of crisis task force meetings.

Scentuous Fragrances has created male and female fragrance lines that complement one another, according to company executives.
The series, entitled "It's time for the smells of comfort," will focus on the psychological benefits of fragrance at a time when individuals need positive, comforting messages, according to the organization.

The Fragrance Foundation will also address economic and shopping challenges to the industry in response to the current crisis with its Think Tank series. The series began on Oct. 31 at the Fragrance Foundation Conference Center, New York, NY.

With new releases, economical gift sets and a return to a focus on giving, the fine fragrance category may well turn the holiday season back to its original intent: a celebration, and a time to put aside differences and give freely.


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