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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“[Clarins] has been better,” he added. “For the last 2 1/2 months, I have seen a significant improvement trend across all of our brands to the point where it’s actually pleasing at the moment because we’re starting to see double-digit [gains] in some of our brands — and we haven’t seen that type of trend in a very long time.”

Clarins Group’s U.S. arm could end the year with mid- to high-single digit improvements, according to industry estimates. “We have a lot of exciting newness and the marketplace is saying newness is better than oldness — the new stuff is moving and the old stuff is going backwards very fast,” said Horowitz.

“I am optimistic,” said Donald J. Loftus, president and ceo of Cosmopolitan Cosmetics USA Inc. “Every year I can’t imagine it being worse than last year,” he added, half jokingly. Nevertheless, “based on the trends we’re seeing now, I think fall is going to be fine.”

Loftus believes industry-wide gains could reach the high-single-digit range. According to industry estimates, Cosmopolitan’s U.S. arm is currently running up about twice that, or between 15 and 20 percent, across all brands. These first-half gains, coupled with major second-half launches within three of the company’s biggest brands — Escada, Burberry and Gucci — have the potential to double the company’s business, according to projections by industry sources.

“We’re having incredible success with Escada, Burberry and Gucci,” said Loftus. “My feeling is that if we are doing this well with existing fragrances and the [current] trends are great, the fall launches, which are blockbusters, should be huge.

“Tough business times make people smarter,” he remarked. “You have to be more demanding that what you’re doing is working for you.” This means ensuring retailers have the right stock, he noted, and being careful where one spends co-operative and national advertising dollars.

Loftus’ main concern about the second half is what tack retailers will ultimately take. “There’s always a tendency to lock the back doors after October results come back and the third quarter is disappointing — we deal with that every year. I just hope retailers don’t buy so tight that we can’t react to the customers.”
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