Faced with a crowded market and rapidly expanding number of products, fragrance makers are trying to distinguish themselves by developing innovative marketing campaigns and services.
That means you may soon be seeing the name of your favorite fragrance house in some unexpected places.
"The word 'spa' has become the hot new buzz word in the beauty business," said John Ledes, publisher and editor of Cosmetic World, a New York-based trade publication. "Fragrance companies are looking for a competitive edge."
Estee Lauder has been one of the pioneers in bringing spa services--everything from make-overs to message therapy--to the retail-store scene. It has been opening spas in stores such as Bloomingdale's in New York and Marshall Field's in Skokie, Ill., since 1988.
The company last month opened its ninth spa--its first on the West Coast--at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills.
The spa offers facials, body massages, aromatic body wraps and cleansing treatments for the back and shoulders. But it's also pushing the envelope regarding the spa concept: The location also offers something called Aromaspa Lymphatic Leg Therapy.
In this novel 30-minute treatment, both legs are massaged simultaneously by a machine that sends electrical impulses to leggings fitted onto the customer. The massage session--a $35 service that includes an aromatic-oil treatment--is designed, its promoters say, to ease leg tension, improve circulation and smooth skin.
The spa gives Estee Lauder an opportunity to promote its cosmetics as well as fragrance lines such as Pleasures, said Robin Burns, president and chief executive of Estee Lauder USA, the largest U.S.-based division with the Estee Lauder Cos.
Estee Lauder executives say they are pleased with the spa's early success, noting that its appointment book is filled two weeks in advance.
"We're attracting a lot of baby boomers who are now more interested in age-resistant products," Burns said. "Today, the spa is not associated with pampering as much as it's associated with preserving looks and health."
While Estee Lauder tries to appeal to Southland boomers, Santa Monica-based Hugo Boss Fragrances is aiming its marketing campaigns at younger customers.
The fragrance developer, licensed by the New York-based Hugo Boss house of fashion, successfully launched Hugo by Hugo Boss in 1995 with a campaign of offbeat slogans.
"Life is a journey--travel light" promotes the fragrance's lighter scent. "The world is getting smaller--smell better" is another campaign "Hugo-ism."
The fragrance was marketed for men, but the company decided to launch a version for women when it discovered that the same scent appealed to females, a company spokeswoman said.
The company last month began to distribute Hugo Woman, a similar scent, after touting the new fragrance through a mural-painting promotion in 10 major cities. Women were encouraged to create images that describe or define life in their city at public forums.
In San Francisco, participants in the mural forum read poetry and dabbled in modern art by attaching embroidery and ballet slippers to the mural.
The Southland's mural forum was held in Santa Monica in late June. The diverse Los Angeles area's mural-makers included messages about the importance of harmony. Murals from the 10 cities were recently displayed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
The fragrance is now being promoted through a billboard campaign with the slogan: "Don't imitate--innovate."
The campaign appears to be working. Industry analysts said the fragrance was among the top sellers last month.
"The fragrance was designed for women who are 18 to 24 years old, but we think it's also attracting older people with young attitudes," said Linda LoRe, chief executive of Hugo Boss Fragrances, which is a unit of Procter & Gamble Corp.
The Hugo Boss products compete most directly against other light scents. These include fragrances such as Estee Lauder's "Tommy" and "Tommy Girl," some Calvin Klein fragrances lines and Red 2, a fragrance produced by Giorgio Beverly Hills.
Giorgio was created in 1982 by Fred Hayman, who named his fragrance enterprise after his Beverly Hills boutique.
Giorgio is now also owned by Procter & Gamble and, like Hugo Boss Fragrances, is under the management of LoRe as chief executive.
LoRe is overseeing the development of scents for both fragrance operations. The new products--along with new marketing campaigns--will be introduced early next year.
George White can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com