Department Stores Roll the Dice With Fall Fragrance Launches

Despite a plethora of newness, the total prestige fragrance market is expected to be flat at best in the second half, and more likely down slightly.

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Still, not everyone’s completely against the newness, arguing that the competitive nature of today’s tough economy has actually forced manufacturers to sharpen their marketing plans and the juices themselves.

“We’re delighted with the influx of newness for fall,” said Dave Steiner, divisional merchandise manager for cosmetics for Marshall Field’s. “Our vendor partners have developed a lineup of innovation that looks to be the strongest we’ve seen in many seasons. It is impossible to list our favorites because so many new brands have great reasons for being. Because of this, even though our current fragrance trend is slightly below last year, we will plan mid-single-digit increases in the category for fall.”

In terms of controlling the clutter at counter, Steiner said, “We will launch every project that we think will be successful. In order to do so, there has been rigorous editing of underperforming brands. As recent data has shown, we believe the ‘true classics’ will once again increase in penetration to our total and newness will increase as well. This forces existing brands that have not shown the potential to be timeless to be reduced in presence.”

“Last year we were scared,” said Leslie Winick, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for fragrances at Macy’s East. “This year, we had a decent Mother’s Day, a very good Father’s Day, and my understanding from years before is that [those holidays] set the tone for Christmas.” With that in mind, Winick believes Christmas has the potential to be “excellent — setting aside other extenuating circumstances. We believe the economy is going to start to turn around.”

Macy’s East’s fragrance business could be up in the low-to-mid-single digits for the fall season, according to estimates.

“For the third quarter — I would see us continuing our current trend, which happens to be very good,” said Winick. “We’ve seen increased spending and stores are seeing more traffic right now.” She was optimistic this trend could extend into the fourth quarter, although at this point “it’s difficult to determine” for certain.

“We are planned aggressively because of all the newness,” Winick noted. Looking at the launch slate, she ticked off a number of promising names, including Estée Lauder’s Beyond Paradise. “The big hitters on the women’s side should be Ralph Lauren Blue and Jennifer Lopez Still.” Other “significant hitters” on the women’s side, she added, include: Burberry Brit, Givenchy’s Very Irresistible, Armani Sensi, Liz Claiborne Spark, Dolce & Gabbana Sicily, FCUK, Rampage and Alfred Sung Paradise.
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