Jasmin.com, a site that will sell upscale fragrances, comes to a computer screen near you this August. Its launch will be backed by a multimillion dollar print campaign.
Jasmin.com is currently in negotiations with a fragrance house in hopes of selling a designer perfume exclusively online, said Dale Dewey, president-CEO of the New Canaan, Conn.-based company. The company will then promote the perfume via sample ads in magazines.
The ad campaign, to be developed in-house, is expected to drive fragrance fans to the site, www.jasmin.com. A media schedule has not been finalized yet, but some other details are in place. Jasmin's print ads will all include "scent impressions" developed through a marketing agreement with Arcade Marketing, New York, a developer of sampling systems for the cosmetics industry.
Sampling will help Jasmin get past the hurdle of selling fragrance when the customer can't smell it, Mr. Dewey said. He would not disclose the budget for the launch campaign, but said it will spend "several millions" and will include a very heavy presence in magazines starting in the September issues and into the holiday shopping season.
Despite being an on-line retailer, Jasmin's business plan relies exclusively on print, instead of banner advertising or other interactive marketing, said Mr. Dewey.
"The word is out in the industry that portal agreements and banners advertising are not the Holy Grail," said Mr. Dewey
The fundamental flaw of other online fragrance retailers is that they assume consumers know about them, said Anthony Pirquet, Jasmin's exec VP, marketing. Jasmin's market research found net browsers are completely unaware, so advertisers will have to approach them off-line, he said.
Jasmin.com aims at the heart of the prestige fragrance market, the department store, where fragrance sales were stagnant in 1998. According to consultancy The NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y., sales of prestige fragrances -- sold mainly in department stores -- were up just 1%, to $2.9 billion.
Jasmin.com is not the first to set up a virtual fragrance counter. Besides individual fragrance companies' sites, e-tailers such as Fragrancecounter.com and Perfumania.com offer fragrances, often pushing gift sets and discounts with banner ads on the World Wide Web.
But most e-commerce sites offering fragrances either have just one manufacturer's brands or sell grey-market goods -- often products meant for sale overseas -- of dubious quality, Mr. Dewey said. Jasmin.com will set itself apart by not offering grey market products or discounting its inventory, he said.
"We want to be the authority on fragrances," said Mr. Dewey. "We believe a prestige product should command a premium price."
Jasmin's site targets fragrance fans, which Mr. Dewey estimated make up