Uncommon Scents

December 9, 2005

Thanks to some novel fragrance ideas, the sales drought may be over for the fragrance industry.

YSL Paris introduces Roses Enchantées just in time for Spring.

Creativity. it’s nothing new in fragrance and fashion.

Or is it? Last year, many fragrance houses took a step into the unknown with unusual fragrance combinations or unique celebrity tie-ins. Some marketers seemed almost surprised at the response, but pleasantly so: based on sales numbers for 2004, fine fragrance just may be out of its longtime slump.

Last year wrapped up comfortably for the prestige fragrance industry, with total sales up 1% to $2.8 billion and a 2% increase in women’s prestige fragrance to $1.9 billion, according to NPD-Beauty, Port Washington, NY. In the mass market, women’s fragrance sales fell 3.1% to $329.5 million, according to Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), Chicago, but prestige more than made up for this loss, according to industry experts.

Men’s prestige scents hit a speed bump; they declined 1% to $0.9 million. In mass, however, men were snapping up shaving lotions, colognes and talcs. According to IRI, the category grew 2.3% to $328.6 million in supermarkets, drugstores and mass merchandisers for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 23, 2005. (These figures exclude Wal-Mart sales).

Fragrance is seasonal, with the biggest gains coming during the Christmas holidays and in the spring, when Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and a general late-winter cabin fever take hold and draw consumers out of their homes and into the stores. This spring, fragrance houses beckon with celebrity scents, blooming florals and touchable packaging, aiming to make Spring 2005 the best fragrance season ever.

“Look for emerging trends in popular culture to have an effect on the fragrances of the future,” advised Kate Greene, vice president, marketing at Givaudan. “Already we are seeing a shift in warmer, more full-bodied fragrances and with the luxury trend of specialness and quality, marketers should look for even more distinction in scent.”

Star Power
Fragrance houses are starting the spring off with a bang with celebrity tie-ins. According to marketers contacted by Happi, women (and increasingly, men as well) select a fragrance based on the attitude the scent brings to mind. Using a celebrity to endorse a product, or allowing a celebrity to create his or her own fragrance (usually with a little help), allows buyers to identify with characteristics he or she would love to have.

Isabella Rossellini’s fragrance, Daring, captures her attitude and style.

Actress Isabella Rossellini called on fragrance creator QSLD New World, Inc. to design Daring. The scent, marketed by Coty, captures the attitude and style of the actress, according to QSLD executives.

“Daring is a fragrance for independent and audacious women. They make bold choices and assume their adventurous side, while remaining feminine, seductive and elegant,” said Gael Ollard, executive vice president, QSLD. “Daring is both feminine and sensual, composed with very unusual ingredients.”

The unique blend offers sparkling, sophisticated top notes; captivating floral heart notes and a rich, woody-musky bottom accord. The presentation is unusual, too; the peach-colored juice is offset by an intense purple glass bottom, with a delivery system not frequently seen in the fragrance industry.

“(The delivery system of Daring) is modern, with an innovative and very practical opening system that twists open and closed,” Ms. Ollard revealed. “Daring is a perfect combination of originality and elegance.”

Ms. Rossellini is known for her elegance; other actors are noted for flashy and sometimes even shocking personas. Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker took the fragrance industry plunge by announcing she has also signed a deal with Coty and will be launching a fragrance this fall.

The as-yet unnamed fragrance is expected to be a big hit, according to Coty executives. The scent’s expected popularity will ride on Ms. Parker’s personality as much as her celebrity.

“It’s very important for us to have someone that not only is creative, but has enormous potential with consumers,” said a Coty spokesperson. Coty’s Lancaster division tested Ms. Parker’s market potential in Germany, the UK and the U.S. before closing the deal. She is already an icon and the brand could easily go global, executives predict.

Songstress Celine Dion recently got into the fragrance gambit. The LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned label and its beauty licensee, Inter Parfums, launched Celine Fever last month. Celine is “discrete on the outside and sexy on the inside,” an LVMH spokesperson said. “It’s a sexiness that’s not obvious.”

Soft and Sweet
Celebrity tie-ins may abound, but some marketers insist a softer touch—and sell—has just as much appeal to today’s woman. All this razzle-dazzle can be overwhelming, they told Happi.

“This industry is seeing a reversal of the commercialization of fragrance,” insisted Renee Kollar, director of marketing, Perfumania.

“Things are going more high-end as far as packaging and delivery; each company is really trying to set itself apart from others. People—especially women—are returning to a simpler time by gravitating toward retro and classic scents.”

This spring, Boucheron gets an update with the introduction of the limited edition Eau Légére. Sunny fruit, exquisite flowers and enveloping wood come together, all wrapped up in a subtly-shaded bottle. It goes on-counter this month for $58.

Hip fashion label Chloé is also getting an update. The Chloé Collection 2005 fragrance is a way of “testing the waters,” according to Pierre Sivac of the label’s holder, Unilever. The limited-edition rollout may expand by 2006 if the fragrance garners approval from wearers. The scent is “innocent, charming and playfully sexy,” Unilever executives said. A 3.4-oz. spray EDT is priced at $55 in the U.S.

Boucheron has become an instant classic with women.

YSL Beauté says it has made an instant classic out of a comparatively new fragrance: Boucheron, just 15 years old, has been “seducing women for over 15 years with the sophistication of its scent and the luxurious, innovative beauty” of its packaging, a YSL spokesperson said.

That isn’t all YSL has in the offing for spring. The company is spicing up its fragrance with new Opium Fleur de Shanghai, inspired by a trip Mr. Saint Laurent took to Asia. He brought back a Chinese magnolia, also known as the “fleur de Shanghai.” The limited-edition scent “will live just one glorious season,” according to YSL executives; it goes on-counter April 12 for $50.

Taking inspiration back a little closer to its French home, Paris d’Yves Saint Laurent Springtime welcomes a new member, Roses Enchantées, to its fragrance family. Roses Enchantées is “an enchantment of the senses; a special encounter,” according to a company spokesperson. A multifaceted bottle with a pale-rose stopper completes the effect of soft, sweet springtime.

Opium Fleur de Shanghai was inspired by a trip to Asia.

Special Scents
Meanwhile, following a trend toward highly individualized fragrances, marketers are experimenting with entirely new ideas in the industry.

Clarins is bravely skirting Mother’s Day, instead slating the launch of its new For Love and For Love Always scents for August in the U.S. Ironically, the scents were inspired by the bond of love between a mother and a daughter. However, Clarins executives said For Love and For Love Always launch will have a forward-looking focus, getting a jump start on Holiday 2005.

The fragrances are not literally meant for both mothers and daughters to wear; the idea is a feeling of free, all-encompassing and unconditional love. The U.S. launch will be confined to just 1,000 doors, but it will be released in Europe earlier, closer to the European versions of Mother’s Day (March in the UK and April in France).

Also going girly is Eadward Fragrances, Urbana, IL. The new line of five contemporary fragrances can be either worn alone or layered together. “Both the scents and the packaging are fresh, unique and destined to become niche classics,” said Kareema McLendon, founder of the company.

The line was inspired by Ms. McLendon’s and co-founder Felice McLendon’s childhood home of Virginia Beach. “I wanted to create a memorable line of niche fragrances,” Kareema McLendon commented. The line includes Ocean, Tranquil, Eclectic, Belle and Indulge.

Though new, the scents are making an impression on women. “Eadward has gained quite a cult following over the past few months. We’ve managed to create a quality product at a reasonable price and still share space with some of the most prestigious niche brands on the market,” Kareema McLendon said.

The fun, fresh, easygoing attitude of the product line is echoed in the packaging.

“There are so many products on the market today that Felice and I felt we needed to create packaging that caught the consumer’s eye and reflected our sense of style at the same time,” commented Ms. McLendon. “Our colors are bold yet playful, and the grosgrain ribbon is a great girly touch.”

Chinatown from Bond No. 9 was created to capture the spirit of Chinatown.

Going from down-home to big-city, Manhattan based Bond No. 9 New York is ready to launch its newest fragrance, Chinatown. It’s “superpower meets supercity,” said a Bond No. 9 spokesperson. It captures the spirit of Chinatown, which is “both hectic and contemplative, old-world vintage and new-world avante garde.”

Naturally, Chinatown encompasses Oriental notes, including spicy, woody and vanilla accords.

“The hybrid result captures the flavor of the emerging Chinatown,” a Bond No. 9 spokesperson said.
Bond No. 9 executives are also quite proud of the scent’s bottle, which is a two-sided bottle evoking the yin-yang idea.

Fragrance houses should not be afraid to experiment, according to marketers contacted by Happi. Niche can grow to classic on a whim; it is up to marketers to be creative and offer men and women more choices than ever before, they insisted.

Male Call
We haven’t forgotten the men’s fragrance category. The segment is limping along in prestige, although men seem to be as anxious as ever to purchase scented lotions, colognes and talcs via mass avenues, according to last year’s sales results.

The Wrangler clothing brand is trying on fragrance for size with an eponymous scent. It debuts this fall.

“A men’s fragrance opens a new door for the Wrangler name while strengthening its position to consumers as a true lifestyle brand,” said George Weldon, the Wrangler brand’s director of licensing. “This fragrance will appeal to men and women who appreciate the Wrangler way of living.”

Wrangler partnered with Boom! LLC to create the scent. “We are thrilled to be working with a brand such as Wrangler,” said Art DeGaetano, president and founder of Boom! LLC. “With our experience in the category and the strength of the Wrangler name, this fragrance will not only be a hit with the traditional Wrangler consumer, but will captivate an entirely new audience.”

Another clothier offering new scents for men this season is Tommy Hilfiger. The company’s licensee, the Aramis and Designer Fragrances division of Estée Lauder Companies, signed singer Enrique Iglesias to “give the men’s fragrance industry a jolt,” according to company executives.

The fragrance, True Star Men, is the male counterpart to Beyoncé Knowles, launched for women last year. Executives said they hope to juice up the struggling male fragrance category with the star-studded launch. The promotion may include personal appearances at doors by Mr. Iglesias, company executives said. Mr. Iglesias is rumored to have received $1-2 million upfront with promises of 1-3% of sales once the fragrance hits counters this fall.

On a subtler note, Boucheron pour Homme EDC and Jaipur Homme Fresh EDT are on-shelf for a limited time beginning this month. Boucheron is popular among men due to its woody, citrus scent and masculine bottle, company executives said. Jaipur Homme Fresh is also out this month in an elegant glass bottle that offsets its spicy and cinnamon notes, executives said. Both will be out in time to capture Father’s Day sales.

Ermenegildo Zegna also added to its men’s line this year with Z Zegna. It captures an “irreverent attitude, a sensual energy,” according to Ermenegildo Zegna executives. “The Z Zegna man values style, freedom and authenticity.” It includes such notes as Sicilian bergamot, casoar (a blueberry from New Guniea) and Irish and cashmere wood.

“Z is a new fragrance, and yet it seems so familiar,” a spokesperson said. “It creates a longing to blend with the warm yet chic environment of Z Zegna.”

Room to Grow
Now that fragrance seems to be heading out of the slump of previous years, marketers insist there’s no reason to stop here. Creativity is the name of the new fragrance game, opening up new possibilities.

“Fragrance houses are making an effort to really stand out from the crowd now,” pointed out Renee Kollar of Perfumania. “They are trying to seem different and the industry is capturing new consumers this way.”

Jet-setter or homebody, grandfather or teenager, there is a scent to please everyone. Fragrance designers are breathing new life into the industry, marketers said—and consumers are taking notice.

“People don’t want commercialization anymore,” Ms. Kollar said. “They prefer the unique on one hand, or retro and traditional on the other. The possibilities are almost unlimited.”

A Fragrance Company With a Heart
What’s better than looking and feeling sexy? Looking and feeling healthy, of course. Fragrance houses Givaudan and Perfumania teamed with the American Heart Association (AHA) to launch Red Dress-The Fragrance, a textured, floral musk. When women purchase the fragrance, 100% of net proceeds are donated to women’s heart health.

The launch, a part of the AHA Go Red for Women program, is still relatively new, but “Women are extremely receptive to this idea,” said Renee Kollar, director of marketing, Perfumania.

They should be. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S.; stroke is No. 3. Each year, one-half million women die from cardiovascular disease. Initiatives such as Red Dress may help tip the odds favorably, Perfumania executives said.

“AHA is thrilled to have a fragrance product to help its cause,” pointed Ms. Kollar. “This is the first AHA tie-in for a fragrance product.”

Naturally, Red Dress offers much more than education toward better health; the scent is blooming with such notes as mandarin, freesia, bergamot, rose petals, musk, iris, sandalwood and more.

Perfumania will also be busy this year with fragrant pursuits; a new Bijon fragrance, Wicked, debuts this month, and in June the fragrance house will launch new surprises for shoppers.

Red Dress, however, remains a more serious pursuit, with an emphasis on spreading the word about obtaining, or maintaining, heart health.

“Red Dress will be remembered as the product we developed specifically for the AHA,” Ms. Kollar said. “Women need to know how to protect themselves and their health, and we’re proud to be a part of that.”