Fragrance Deluge Brightens Prestige Beauty’s Gloss for Fall

The global beauty industry sees a glimmer of hope for fall, with rebounds in consumer confidence and the economy.

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Bernard Potier, president and ceo of Christian Dior’s U.S. operations, is counting on a revitalized Dior beauty lineup to continue strong sales gains that the brand has already seen this year, driven by a “rebalancing” of its beauty portfolio. By yearend, the company will have repackaged all of its color cosmetics and skin care, as well as launched a slew of new products — including a men’s fragrance that Potier expects to generate serious buzz.

“One of the advantages we see with newness is that it drives consumers to the counter, where we then have the opportunity to introduce them to our existing products,” said Potier. “That way, we drive both new products and we also drive existing business. And we look for opportunities to cross-sell.”

Added Potier, “Newness allows us to get the buzz going, and it then has a cascade effect on the rest of the business. Also, when you have newness, you don’t sleep — you’re always looking for new strategies and opportunities. That’s a state of mind that is especially critical in the current economic climate.” In fact, he said, it’s important to remember that newness doesn’t just have to mean products coming to counter. “Newness, to a consumer, can be something classic that they haven’t seen before,” he said, noting that it’s important for retailers to partner with brands to get that message across to consumers.

Potier expects growth in fragrance, skin care and color cosmetics in the second half, citing gains in the first half. “In color, we were up 6 percent in the first half, where the overall market was flat, to cite one example,” he said. “I think we’ll beat those numbers in the second half.”

Potier is also a strong advocate of spending to promote existing products, noting that the company continues to strongly support all of its first-half launches. “New items shouldn’t be supported for the first three months, then left out on their own,” he said.

Camille McDonald, president and ceo of the New York-based Parfums Givenchy and Guerlain Inc., sees a strengthening of confidence. With that, coupled with a continued onslaught of women’s fragrance introductions for fall, McDonald thinks it will be easier to anniversary last fall’s women’s introductions. But the men’s category will be tough, due to the relative lack of launches this year. As a result, McDonald predicts a 3 to 5 percent increase in the women’s category and a drop in men’s, leaving the entire business flat. That would be an improvement over spring, considering that the fragrance category was running decreases through May.
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