Integrated Marketing: Liz launches scent

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Swinging and swaying to the familiar tunes of "Stranger in Paradise," Polynesian dancers will greet shoppers next month at cosmetics counters in department stores nationwide. Accompanied by Liz Claiborne Cosmetics's 5,000-strong army of selling assistants, the dancers introduce customers to a scent called Bora Bora.

The launch, accompanied by a $20 million print and spot TV campaign from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Avrett, Free & Ginsberg, New York, aims to "bring shoppers a fantasy, a location, a dream that comes in a bottle-for $47.50," said Neil Katz, president, Liz Claiborne Cosmetics.

Using imagery and aspiration to sell fragrance is nothing new. Estee Lauder ads have long relied on the classic beauty of a model photographed in richly sentimental settings; stark, black-and-white photographs of somber models set a mood to create a brand for Calvin Klein's fragrances. But Mr. Katz stands apart from his competitors by expanding beyond customary marketing approaches.

"Neil has come closer to a youthful audience than other fragrances," said Annette Green, president, The Fragrance Foundation, a non-profit, educational organization of the international fragrance industry. "That's the group with disposable income to spend on themselves-and one way to spend it is on fragrance."

His success is needed now more than ever. Fragrance sales in 2001 declined, generating $2.89 billion, a 2% decrease vs. 2000's $2.9 billion, according to NPD BeautyTrends. Yet despite that overall drop, Mr. Katz's division last year successfully introduced Mambo, a fragrance borne out of the popularity of Latino dances, food and culture. Sales of Mambo, Liz Claiborne reported in its 2001 annual report, were partially responsible for the company's gross profit increase of 15.7%. But in the first quarter of 2002, Liz Claiborne reported that reduced sales of fragrances Curve, Liz Sport and Lucky You, plus costs from the recently launched Mambo brand, offset the company's $7.7 million gain in operating income.

Mr. Katz has taken risks and succeeded in the past. In 1996, Liz Claiborne Cosmetics broke with industry tradition and launched at the same time both the men's and women's lines of Curve. To get 19- to 35-year-old men into department stores, the Curve introduction included a sweepstakes that gave away 20 Chrysler Sebring Jxi Convertibles. Sales of Curve for Men grew at a double-digit rate in 1999 and 2000, said Natalie Siedman, director, NPD BeautyTrends. "It was among the top five ranked fragrances for men in 2001, and continued into this year's first quarter."

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