Fragrance Feels the Heat this Holiday

November 14, 2005

Fragrance sales are going nowhere fast but updates on favorites will spice up the category for the holidays.

Unlike the uplifting nature of fine fragrance, the prestige category has been steadily sinking for the past two years, according to Port Washington, NY-based NPD Group.

Mass market cologne sales declined too, according to ACNielsen, falling 12.6% to $308.7 million for women and 6.1% to $160.9 million for men for the year ended Aug. 9. These figures do not include Wal-Mart sales.

“The economy has been down and there is always a correspondence between fragrance sales performance and the economic situation,” explained Natalie Granik-Seidman, director of NPDBeauty, Port Washington, NY. “Consumer confidence is also down and fragrance sales have spiraled.”

Part of the problem is market saturation. Not only are there limitless fragrance choices, but limitless places to buy them. And if you search far and wide enough, you can find almost any perfume at a discounted price.

“Department stores have a lot more competition from other channels, which all compete for consumer attention,” Ms. Granik-Seidman said. “There are more and more launches each year and they are bringing down the sales of established brands. It all comes down to new channel emergence and the blurring of mass and prestige.”

“Fragrance used to be a common and typical gift to buy; it doesn’t require any sizes or shapes,” added Rochelle Bloom, president of The Fragrance Foundation, New York. “But now fragrance is competing with that cashmere sweater at a reduced price.”

As usual, there is a plethora of holiday activity in the fragrance market. But unlike the male-dominance of last year’s launches, women’s fragrance will flourish this year. Ms. Granik-Seidman predicted flanker spin-offs of well-known women’s brands for the holidays. Ms. Bloom said the harshness of last winter will cause women to seek rich, full and concentrated fragrances.
Escada Magentism (above right) captures the essence of timeless love, while Clinique Happy Heart (above) speaks
to the small joys
in life.

Updates on Favorites
Several big players in the prestige fragrance arena are launching spin-offs of tried-and-true brands. Clinique Happy Heart is the first sister to best-selling women’s fragrance Happy. Clinique executives saw a need for a floral fragrance in its portfolio. While Happy was said to capture the happiness of love, Happy Heart embodies the happiness the heart feels from seeing joy in family, babies or an elderly couple holding hands. Happy Heart opens with crisp mountain air accord, mandarin and cucumber. Other notes include yellow primrose, wild carrot flower, water hyacinth and blond woods.

Clinique Happy Heart has a similar bottle to Happy, however it sports a coral pink cap and box.

Yves Saint Laurent released a new version of Opium eau de parfum in October, featuring a heavier concentration of oriental-spicy accents. Executives said it is 25% richer with more sambac jasmine absolute, myrrh, vanilla, opoponax, amber and patchouli. The bottle features a glossy seppia offset with a window having stylized, finely chiseled acanthus leaves.

YSL’s new Opium ad features the new face of YSL, Kate Moss, lying sensually against a three-way mirror in black satin. Executives said this reiterates the modern vision of Opium.

In a limited edition, Oscar de la Renta has launched a glamorous and couture look on its 2-oz. Oscar esprit de parfum. The bottle is tightly corseted in a black lace evening dress with a floral pattern. The fragrance features spicy, floral, woody and powdery notes.

Boucheron reintroduced its signature scent in September. Executives said the iconic ring-shaped gold and glass bottle expresses the luxury and modernity of the Boucheron house today, with a simpler cap. The 15-year-old fragrance has remained untouched. Boucheron retails in a 1.6-oz. EDP spray and a 1.6- and 3.3-oz. EDT spray.

Flower Power
The 2003 Avon Global Women’s survey revealed 85% of women wear fragrance at least occasionally. Women own four fragrances on average, but only wear two regularly. More than half of the women surveyed said they want a fragrance that will make them feel more confident, happier or more feminine.

“Women realize that fragrance is an extension of oneself,” added Ms. Bloom. “People are being more expressive and the same is true for fragrance.”

Avon’s new Treselle fragrance will be unveiled this month. Said to capture the secrets of a woman, the opulent floral scent combines top notes of white tuberanthia flower, fleur de lotus and rose gold lifescent. The core consists of licorice, black pepper berries, melati flower and the base combines musk, iris flower absolute and tiger orchid. It retails in a 1.7-oz. eau de parfum (EDP).

Avon also launched a fragrance for teens under its new mark banner. Garden blu was inspired by a garden of imaginary flowers and contains notes of passion fruit, sweet pea and sheer vetiver. It is available in fun product forms such as a lotion glow stick, scented hair and body mist and gel scent.

Marc Jacobs Essence perfume is a modern interpretation of classic gardenia. The understated charm of the pale yellow juice is accented with a matching leather bow, raised spray-through cap and metallic collar, according to executives. It is said to be a rich, sensuous, feminine floral fragrance. An embossed carton finishes the package. It retails in 1.7- and 3.4-oz. EDP sprays, as well as a body lotion.

Elizabeth Arden’s new Red Door Revealed is a sister scent to Red Door, according to executives. The middle notes of the latter fragrance comprise the top notes of Red Door Revealed: green coral orchid, pink peony and mackay orchid. With a pink bottle identical in shape to Red Door, Red Door Revealed targets a younger audience. It retails in a 1.7-oz. bottle.

Lingerie maker Frederick’s of Hollywood is entering the fragrance arena. The eponymous fragrance combines spicy, citrus and gardenia top notes, a white floral heart and warm drydown. The juice’s curvy bottle is dusted with a satiny feel and the outer packaging is veiled in red and black satin with attached garters. The fragrance, which retails in a 1.7-oz eau de toilette (EDT) spray, body lotion and candle, targets women ages 18-35.

Beyond Paradise targets a younger audience with a rainbow-inspired bottle.

A Vacationer’s Dream
Several new fragrances were inspired by the relaxed and fun times of holidays. Estée Lauder’s Beyond Paradise features a rainbow-inspired bottle. The “prismatic floral” juice has tropical, floral and fresh notes such as philodendron vines and natal plum blossoms. Many of the fragrance notes were derived from the Eden Project, a nature conservancy in Cornwall, UK dedicated to preserving rare plants.

“We are targeting Beyond Paradise to be a top-selling new fragrance,” said Daniel Annese, vice president of marketing, North America. “Once we have assessed consumer acceptance, we will evaluate our options on expanding the concept.” Executives said the concept for Beyond Paradise is rooted in high sensuality and fantasy. The company is also trying to renew sales for other fragrances with various strategies.

“As the industry leader in fine fragrances, we recognize that many new strategies are required to renew fragrance sales,” explained Mr. Annese.

The fall 2003 strategies include the introduction of a new product, Beyond Paradise, with new advertising, ad support for classics (Beautiful and Pleasures TV and print ads and scentstrips) and promotional support for gift-giving ideas and innovation.

Blue, a new women’s fragrance from Ralph Lauren, follows the successful launch of Polo Ralph Lauren Blue last year for men. The Blue woman is described as 20-49 years old, self-assured, sexy, confident and modern. Designed to emulate a blue-skied day on a tropical island, the star note of the cool floral fragrance is lotus flower, followed by a bouquet of flowers from Nantucket and a water floral accord, and a warm and sensual drydown.

The deep blue bottle imitates a blue sky and the silvery reflection from sun-kissed waters. Blue is sold in a 2.5- and 4.2-oz. EDT natural spray, a vitamin-enriched moisturizing body gel and a vitamin-enriched shower gel.

TerraNova looks to the romance of Hawaiian island life for its new White Ginger fragrance collection of bath and body care products. The fresh and creamy scent combines white ginger flowers, hints of warm spice and renewing green notes. Executives said Hawaiian women have traditionally bathed in wild ginger flowers. The body care products are also enriched with botanicals such as awapuhi, lemongrass, papaya, green tea and gingko.

The collection includes a 0.4-oz. alcohol-free perfume essence and a 3.5-oz. cologne mist.

Signature Star Scents
Well-known celebrities are entering the fragrance market with various prestige and mass fragrances. Still Jennifer Lopez is the latest collaboration between the actress/singer’s Sweetface Fashion Company and the Lancaster Group. Still Jennifer Lopez is said to capture the scent and essence of a woman in this sheer and sexy fragrance. The fragrance blend contains top notes of sake, white pepper, mandarin and earl grey tea. Middle tones include white florals with orange blossom and honeysuckle, and base tones of orris, musk, amber and wood.

Ms. Lopez’s popular first fragrance, Glow by J.Lo, debuted a year ago. Still Jennifer Lopez targets an older woman, and is priced slightly higher at $49 for the 1.7- and $65 for the 3.4-oz. EDPs. The elegant, rose seppia-tinted printed ads focus on Ms. Lopez’s natural beauty, reinforcing her quest to remain true to herself. Still Jennifer Lopez is also available in a shower gel and body lotion.

Latin singing sensation Thalia Sodi has launched the Thalia scent, a fresh, modern oriental, under her Kmart clothing line. It combines her favorites: jasmine, rose, lily of the valley and cinnamon. They retail in 1- and 1.7-oz. EDPs, fragrance mist and body lotion.

Stella, the first eponymous fragrance from fashion designer Stella McCartney and daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney, is housed in an amethyst-colored, gem-like bottle with a delicate perfume stopper. The juice is based on the concept of English roses infused with peony and tangerine. The heart consists of rose absolute and the base combines warm and woody notes. Stella retails in 0.25-oz. bottle for $95.

Boss Intense instigates fiery passion with its pink-graduated-to-black flacon.

Intensely Sexy
Procter & Gamble has been busy in the fragrance sector. Not only has the Wella AG acquisition added more women’s fragrances to the company’s male-dominated portfolio, but two fragrances were launched this fall as well: Hugo Boss Intense and Lacoste pour Femme. Executives agree that launching fragrances in the prestige sector is challenging in a dismal economy.

“Consumers are shopping at a variety of channels and more shoppers are moving into the specialty beauty care stores and the discount sector,” explained Yadira R. Martinez, fine fragrance brand manager, USA & Canada, P&G. But not all hope is lost. “We will see an improvement in the prestige fragrance segment when the U.S. economy’s down cycle ends, manufacturers continue to focus on bringing innovation to consumers and the distribution channels have a clear point of differentiation.”

Hugo Boss Intense from Procter & Gamble will debut next month. The fragrance contains seductive and fiery suggestions, according to executives. The fragrance unfolds with spices and kumquats, a heart of Turkish rose and vanilla orchids and a base of woods, amber and musk. “It’s an intensely feminine and sensual fragrance with sophisticated edge that makes is so distinct,” Ms. Martinez said.

The flacon, inspired by a flickering flame, features a graduation of black and grenadine with a lacquered finish, topped off with a ruby jewel on the cap. Ms. Martinez described Hugo Intense as having a bottle that, “radiates heat and passion as the strength of the color graduates up the bottle like a volcano bubbling over with intense heat.”

Intense retails in 1.6- and 3-oz. sprays, a body lotion and shower gel.

Healing Garden Waters Intense collection is Coty’s latest addition to The Healing Garden. Available in mass, the fragrances get their scents from plants grown hydroponically.

The scents include Pure Joy Intense (mandarin, ginger and hyacinth), Perfect Calm Intense (lavender, clary sage and waterlily) and Sheer Passion Intense (jasmine, passion flower and ylang ylang). The fragrances also contain vitamins C and E and rich moisturizers. Each of the 1.7-oz. EDP sprays costs $22.50.

Coty also launched Calgon Intense EDP sprays, a collection of enhanced Hawaiian Ginger, Morning Glory and Tropical Dream fragrances to complement the line’s existing body mists. The 1.5-oz. EDP sprays retail for $11.95 each in mass.

Morning Glory Intense infuses a blend of Italian bergamot, lily of the valley and a fresh aquatic accord for the top notes, as well as a floral heart and blue amber and Indian sandalwood base. Hawaiian Ginger Intense combines ginger and tropical fruits with sheer muguet, orange flower, violet petals, white musk and blondewood. Fruity top notes, a white floral heart and a musky drydown combine to make Tropical Dream Intense.

Spicy and Hot
Perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has launched four new fragrances under the Perfection Connoisseur Fragrances label. Said to evoke wild emotions and heat, they include Piment et Chocolat (pepper, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and cocoa beans), Oeillets Rouges (red carnations, balsamic woods and ambergris), Fleurs d’Oranger (orange blossom) and Poivre (spices, resins and rose). Executives said they are made with the finest essential oils, botanical absolutes and essences. The EDP spray retails in 10- and 30ml sizes for $55 and $135, respectively.

Escada Magnetism captures the timeless union between Escada creators Margaretha and Wolfgang Ley. The fragrance opens with basil, leafy greens, freesia and a plumberry and black currant complex. The core combines floral water accords and blond woods. The base blends amber crystals, sandalwood, cashmere vanilla and musk. It retails in 1.7- and 2.5-oz. EDPs.

Ralph Lauren Purple Label was inspired by a broad-shouldered, finely cut suit.

Fun and Flirty
Life by Esprit, the latest from Lancaster’s Esprit division, debuted in August. To convey a modern woman’s joie de vivre, the sparkling fragrance opens with pink peppercorn and fruits, a heart of rosebuds, gardenias and lotus and a drydown of clear musk, cashmere wood and white amber. The Life by Esprit collection includes 1- and 2.5-oz. EDT sprays, a shower gel and a moisturizing body lotion.

Lancôme’s Connexion is a young-spirited scent with fresh vanilla notes, wild blackberry flowers and musk. The subtle, textured composition was made for girls on the verge of womanhood. It retails in a 1.7-oz. EDT spray.

London Flirt is the latest from Coty’s Rimmel London division, a top-selling makeup company in the UK. London Flirt is a mixture of mandarin orange, bamboo leaves, crushed ginger and petit grain, designed to reflect the jam-packed, fun and playful lifestyle of London girls. Executives described the London Flirt girl as someone who men love and girls want to be. London Flirt is housed in a purple bottle. It joins the London Glam (pink bottle) and London Cool (blue bottle) fragrances. They are sold in Wal-Mart stores.

Also inspired by all things British, Burberry launched Burberry Brit. Executives described the classic green oriental as unpredictable, eccentric and witty with a sense of British irony. The Italian lime, icy pear and crisp green almond blend is dashed with an unexpected sugared almond accord. Warmth is emitted from amber, mahogany, vanilla and tonka bean undertones. Burberry Brit retails in two EDP and EDT sizes, an energizing body wash and refreshing body lotion.

Fragrances of Harmony
Several marketers have launched more subdued and relaxing fragrances this year. Last month, Yves Rocher unveiled Comme une Evidence EDP, a pure and harmonious fragrance designed to signify purity and the balance between nature and the inner self. The top note of violet leaves combines with heart notes of rose and lily of the valley with a base of patchouli and moss.

For those who want an inviting light fragrance, Clinique launched Simply. Clinique created a modern twist on the oriental concept, replacing citrus notes with white dew-laden flower petals, vanilla with soy milk notes and spices with toasted soy nuts and smoked wood. This fragrance does not contain the traditional oriental mainstays of amber, oakmoss or tonka beans. The result is a creamy and warm juice. The cylindrical, frosted bottle was inspired by sandblasted glass. A touch of bronze separates the cap from the bottle. Simply retails in 1.7- and 3.4-oz. perfume sprays.

His and Hers
Another strategy widely used in the fragrance category is master branding, or male and female versions of the same scent. FCUK for Him and FCUK for Her are the latest creations from fashion house French Connection UK (FCUK) and licensed by Zirh International. Both are housed in sleek champagne and platinum metal to recreate a technological feel like a pager or cell phone. FCUK targets 18-25 year olds.

“The brand is edgy, hip and trendy,” explained Brian Robinson, president of Zirh International. “In traditional department store environments, there are very few brands that speak to that age group and are hip as well.” They are so edgy that some stores reportedly won’t carry FCUK due to sexually explicit advertising.

Him contains head notes of sangria, basil, rosemary and lavender, a heart of hemp, New Mexican black sage, green peppercorns and tea leaves and a drydown of black suede, CO2 vanilla, ebony wood and patchouli. The provocative and modern scent of Her combines an opening of bergamot, muguet and water Iris. The heart consists of barringtonia flower, peony, jasmine and violet and a base of golden amber, musk, cedarwood, sandalwood and vanilla.

Executives said the master brand strategy is effective in terms of launch synergies, cross-selling and sampling opportunities, buzz, advertising, marketing and more. “It is the 1+1=3 philosophy,” Mr. Robinson insisted.

YSL also relaunched women’s scent Rive Gauche EDT last month in an updated metallic cylinder. Originally launched in 1971, the fragrance came in a distinctive blue, silver and black can and became an icon for the emancipated woman. The heart of the floral-aldehydic fragrance, a combination of rose and jasmine, has been slightly modernized. YSL’s new Rive Gauche EDT Intense emphasizes its structural notes of vetiver, oakmoss and myrrh.

The new Rive Gauche pour Homme was unveiled last month as well. Housed in dark plum metal cylinders, Rive Gauche pour Homme was designed for assertive, independent and confident men. The woody-fougére harmony is said to be reminiscent of fragrances from the 1970s. Rive Gauche pour Homme Intense focuses on the base note of patchouli.

Skin care veteran Peter Thomas Roth has entered the fragrance category with a men’s and women’s version of It, two fruity floral fragrances designed to be light, fresh, dewy and clean. The concept was borrowed from the profusion of fruit acids found in the PeterThomasRoth lineup. It retails in a 1.7-oz. EDP for women and a 1.7-oz. eau de cologne for men.

Liz Claiborne’s Spark comes in men’s and women’s versions. Executives describe the male scent as a spicy, woody oriental with rum, cognac, fig and amber. The women’s scent is a warm blend of honey, caramel, exotic orchids and musk.

For the 42nd edition of Visionaire, a collectable fashion and art magazine, a melange of 21 original scents was created for men and women. Each fragrance comes in an individually marked glass vial, housed together in an album. Fashion designers, artists, chefs, photographers, New York-based International Flavors & Fragrances and celebrities such as David Bowie and Kate Moss all contributed to the creation of these scents. The limited edition album will debut next month.

Purely Masculine
Though not as bountiful as last year, several men’s fragrances will debut in time for the holidays. According to Port Washington, NY-based NPD Group’s FragranceTrack 2003 Men’s study, 53% of men wear a fragrance at least once a week and 74% of the men who wear fragrance buy it for themselves.

However, 87% said there needs to be reorganization to make fragrance shopping easier. Of several examples given, 46% said fragrances should be grouped by brands, while 38% said fragrances should be sorted by scent like vodka, rum and whiskey in liquor stores.

Appealing to the cigar-smoking man, Annick Goutal recently introduced Duel, a modern, masculine fragrance with overall woody and tobacco notes. Executives said the scent’s iris root, heather and Paraguay seed give the fragrance a romantic feeling in addition to middle notes of mate leaves and absinth and a base notes of musk and tobacco. The juice is housed in an amber glass bottle with an imitation cigar band image wrapped around it.

Men’s fashion designer John Varvatos is set to launch his first fragrance in late February. The masculine fragrance will contain a signature blend of fruit, spice and leather. Licensed by Zirh International, two versions of the scent will be available in 2.5- and 4.2-oz. sizes, as well as ancillaries such as deodorant and aftershave. A skin care collection is also set to debut next summer.

Very Sexy Him 2, the second men’s fragrance launch from Victoria’s Secret, debuted in time for the holidays. It is described as crisp, spirited and inviting with a heavier focus on teakwood. The cologne spray retails in 1-, 1.7- and 3.4-oz. sizes and is joined by an all-over body wash, aftershave hydrator, travel kit and gift box.

Dior Higher Energy is a new men’s fragrance from Christian Dior, housed in clean and bold packaging. The juice contains top notes of juniper, grapefruit and absinthe, middle notes of nutmeg, pepper and incense and base notes of clear musk, vetiver and sandalwood. Executives said it is for men who seek out new sensations. Dior Higher Energy is sold in two EDT sizes, as well as aftershave balm and lotion, body and hair shampoo and alcohol-free deodorant stick.

The invigorating Lancôme Miracle Homme L’Aquatonic combines aquatic notes from waterfalls, as well as coriander leaf, bitter orange, rhubarb leaf, cedar sprigs and a drydown of gaïacwood, rosewood and vetiver.

A Scent to Suit Any Occasion
A business suit is one of the ways a man can express good taste. Several fragrances have focused on this important part of a businessman’s world. Essenza di Zegna, new this month from fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna, is made for men who are passionate about beautiful fabrics, simply cut suits and perfect designs. Essenza di Zegna features top notes of Calabrian bergamot and Sicilian mandarin blended with base notes of vetiver, cypress and vegetal amber. This warm, Mediterranean EDT juice is encased in an elliptical bottle with tree bark accents on the glass surface and a brown wengé wood-like cap. A 2.5-oz. Essenza di Zegna EDT retails for $80.

Ralph Lauren’s latest men’s fragrance, Purple Label, is described as a fresh oriental. Designed for modern gentlemen ages 30-55, the fragrance is divided into three parts: a personal wine cellar (black berry, green coriander, green leaves and mandarin), men’s club (tobacco flower, sage, fluid hedione and thyme) and a classic car (mahogany wood, suede, warm musk and oakmoss). Executives said the bottle was inspired by a broad-shouldered men’s suit, as was the carton, which features black and white pinstripes and the signature menswear Purple Label. The Purple Label scent collection includes a 2.5- and 4.2-oz. EDT spray, aftershave, aftershave balm and alcohol-free deodorant.

City Folk
Black Kenneth Cole New York is the second men’s fragrance from Kenneth Cole and was recently named the best new fragrance by the readers of FHM magazine. Designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the company, this scent blends energetic herbs with masculine spices and sensual woods to reflect the elegance and style of the city. The key notes include mint, mandarin, incense, exotic woods and black suede. The juice is housed in a cool, stacked cylinder made of heavily weighted black glass. Kenneth Cole’s signature appears in white.

Black Kenneth Cole New York retails in a 1.7- and 3.4-oz. EDT, as well as an aftershave splash and deodorant.

Nautica Competition is the latest men’s fragrance from Unilever Cosmetics International, which debuted last spring. Housed in a utilitarian silver, black rubberized and yellow matte can, the crisp air fougére contains an exclusive accord of Teton Air, a new cool, clean sensation. Other notes include citrus, spices and aromatic herbs. It targets active men ages 18-35.

“The Nautica Competition man is a modern guy with a winning attitude,” observed Lucy Tart, director of global marketing, Unilever Cosmetics International. “He is confident, committed and driven. He loves the adrenaline rush that comes from competing and living life to the fullest.”

Executives said the packaging was made to travel, from locker room to an away game with ease. The collection includes a 2.5- and 4.2-oz. EDT, an aftershave balm, body wash, soap and deodorant.

“The bottle design is athletic in feel, but is also sleek, modern and functional,” Ms. Tart said. “We combined black rubberized textures, yellow matte finishes and silver metallic to create a design that is functional and easy to use, yet sporty and modern.”

Unilever’s quarter rubberized dopp kit gift set, which launched in the third quarter, sold out and propelled Nautica Competition to the No. 15 spot, according to Ms. Tart. “Even in a tough market, we feel consumers will continue to look for high quality/high value products, which makes the Nautica Competition gift sets especially appealing,” she explained.

The giftsets include the “MVP” set with a 4.2-oz. EDT spray and 2.6-oz. deodorant. The “All Pro” set contains a 4.2-oz. EDT spray, a 5-oz. aftershave balm and 10-oz. soap on a rope. Nautica Competition also has a holiday season gift-with-purchase, the Nautica Competition end-zone duffel bag.

Holiday Treats
To help make shopping easy, several companies are offering holiday gift sets and limited edition scents. Boucheron launched a limited edition Boucheron bottle in a sapphire-colored flacon with tiny specks of gold to imitate winter.

Van Cleef & Arpels Parfums launched holiday sets for its First, Tsar and Murmure fragrances. Five Star Fragrance Co. is also offering various gift sets under its Norell, Delicious, Bijan Women, Bill Blass, Bijan Men, Royal Copenhagen and Michael Jordan brands. They come in three- and/or four-piece sets.

Ralph Lauren offers several sets of the company’s latest scents including a two-piece Ralph Lauren Purple Label set, a two-piece Blue set and a three-piece Polo Ralph Lauren Blue grooming kit. Even in a weak retail environment, fragrance companies can always find a reason to celebrate during the all-important holiday selling season.

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