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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Perhaps McDonald’s greatest source of hope comes from the belief that during the past two years, “we all have become better business people,” both manufacturers and retailers, when it comes to strategizing, planning, forecasting and inventory control.

“As everyone in the industry knows, the fragrance industry has had a tough 2003,” said Hilary Dart, president of Calvin Klein Cosmetics. “However, we believe we will start seeing a turnaround, even if it is slight this fall. As the fragrance category continues to be a challenge, our focus will remain on the consumer in 2003 by continuing our innovation. It’s about exploring new territories with existing fragrances and adding newness and value to attract consumers.”

Classics are a key part of that strategy, said Dart. “Classic fragrances continue to be relevant to consumers and our strategy of limited editions has worked for our classic fragrances,” she said. “It helps the parent brand by attracting new and lapsed users. It’s all about creating excitement without a major launch. These initiatives add newness and excitement to the brands, while also reaching a new, broader audience.”

“At Unilever Prestige, the focus is on the Vera Wang brand which has been the ‘shining star’ of our portfolio this year,” said Laura Lee Miller, president of Unilever Prestige. “We have had a very successful first half with Vera Wang in the U. S. — we achieved a number 11 ranking in NPD for May and retail sales are 50 percent ahead of 2002 through June.”

The Vera Wang brand expanded into London in March with an exclusive launch at Harrods, but Miller emphasized the plan is to go slowly internationally. Turning to fall, Miller said, “We realize that the fall season will be highly competitive with launch activity and we are committed to holding our position at retail. The bevy of launches this fall will bring customers into the stores….This is where they make their final decisions. Now is a time when a brand needs to emotionally connect with consumers.”

“When I first saw the April results, I said, ‘Maybe this will [last] a week or two,’ but I’ve seen sustained improvement though April, May and June,” said Joseph Horowitz, president and ceo of Clarins Group USA. “[Though] the industry in total has not been all that rosier, it has gotten better. The prestige marketplace as a whole might show a couple of points of growth before the year is out.
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