Live from New York: Fragrance Online Presence Expands

Firmenich invited press to its New York headquarters for a panel presentation exploring the link between online social networking and the latest fragrance news and trends., the Firmenich Web site recognized for its virtual Perfume Island and regularly updated fragrance news, presented the online context that set the stage for the discussion.

With the launch of a revamped Web site, version 2.0, as well as a more condensed and mobile version of the site,—customized specially for this year’s new iPhone 3G—Firmenich announced its attempt to offer more convenient fragrance news access to Web viewers.

According to Debra Butler, vice president, creative marketing, Firmenich, is designed with a question-and-answer forum for fragrance aficionados to bring industry expertise to consumers. The site’s latest version features fragrance launch updates, consumer-ranked lists of the highest rated fragrances, and an extensive encyclopedia of global fragrances.

Joining the discussion were Jake Nagle, senior artistic director, Firmenich and Karen Grant, global industry analyst and vice president, beauty, The NPD Group, among others. With a positive outlook on the industry, Grant contradicted the challenges of an economy where consumer confidence is at such a low level. “People are still finding things to please them despite the economy ‘noise,’ and in difficult times, people want to feel beautiful,” she said.

“The biggest risk in beauty is with the youngest consumers, where 80% of them are Internet users,” Grant said. “It is important to know that the crazier the world is, the more people want to be connected, so the opportunity exists to do more in beauty on the Internet.”

Concluding the panel discussion, the experts agreed that the Internet is the best medium on which to generate brand buzz. “The whole idea of fragrance existing in a virtual world is unusual, because you can’t smell anything,” Nagle said, “but has taken it to the mobile world, because we need to be where the consumer is.”

Beattie Discusses Elizabeth Arden’s Business Model

Introduced by Carlotta Jacobson, president of Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW), E. Scott Beattie, chairman and CEO, Elizabeth Arden, Inc., joined CEW for a newsmaker forum to discuss his company’s successful business model.

Jill Scalamandre, CEW chairperson, interviewed Beattie, noting that in his role, he has overall responsibility for Elizabeth Arden, Inc.’s global sales in excess of $1.3 billion.

With the acquisition of the Elizabeth Arden brand from Unilever in 2000, Liz Claiborne inherited a company with a heritage. The company’s numerous fragrances include those for celebrities Mariah Carey, Usher and Britney Spears, as well as for designers Badgley Mischka and Nanette Lepore. In addition, Elizabeth Arden Prestige now offers Juicy Couture, Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds, skin care line Prevage, and is planning the launch of a new fragrance, Pretty, slated for spring 2009.

“Key to the company’s success is its connection with the consumer first,” said Beattie. “Second is its assurance that celebrity fragrances bear the hallmark of true commitment to the product, and third, products must be global in nature.”

Beattie believes he has harnessed the energies of heritage and modernity, while drawing on his investment banker roots to maintain financial solidity and growth for the brand. Entrepreneurial spirit, the ability to find niches in the industry, supply chain management, and innovative, creative people working in an open environment have all contributed to Elizabeth Arden, Inc.’s growth, according to Beattie.

Champions Honor Gould

Rochelle Bloom, president of The Fragrance Foundation, honored Michael Gould, chairman and CEO of Bloomingdale’s at the Ninth Annual Circle of Champions Award dinner, held at New York’s St. Regis Hotel in October. Bloom described working with Gould during her last two years at The Estée Lauder Companies, calling him “tough, fair and a great partner,” before she introduced Leonard Lauder, chairman of the board and former chief executive, The Estée Lauder Companies, to make the formal presentation.

“Michael is one of the great men in the world—a great merchant and a great philanthropist,” said Lauder, who noted Gould’s start at Abraham & Straus, which he referred to as “the training ground of almost every great merchant in America.”

Gould, who was formerly chairman and CEO of J. W. Robinson’s in Los Angeles, as well as COO of Giorgio Beverly Hills, later to become president and CEO, went on to run Bloomingdale’s as chairman and CEO in 1991. “When he joined Bloomingdale’s, it began a renaissance for retail,” Lauder added.

Gould noted that after 40 years in the business and 17 years as CEO of Bloomingdale’s, he has learned that “it is not the CEO, the bottle or the packaging” that makes retailers successful, rather, it is their friends, family members and co-workers that empower them along their path in life. “I’m blessed to have been able to work with good people,” he concluded, “who have made me a little better.”

Cancer Gala Makes ‘Sense’

The Skin Cancer Foundation held its annual Skin Sense Award Gala at New York’s Pierre Hotel, honoring David Suliteanu, president and CEO, Sephora USA, and Lois Joy Johnson, former beauty and fashion director, More magazine.

Suliteanu accepted his award on behalf of the 7,000-plus Sephora employees, noting how the retailer’s initiative in creating The Sun Safety Kit raised $350,000 in 2008, which was donated to The Skin Cancer Foundation.

Johnson related how her personal experience with skin cancer gave her the impetus to write about the importance of sun safety in More magazine and help others in the process. “I now have a wardrobe of wide-brimmed hats and sun protective clothing,” Johnson said. “Nevermind the Bentleys—the new status symbol is having healthy skin.” Perry Robins, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation, presented skin cancer statistics and discussed preventive methods, acknowledging the work being done with The Road to Healthy Skin Tour van, supplied by Aveeno and Rite Aid.

Seed Fund Promotes Organic Community Gardening

This fall, Ido Leffler, founder of Yes to Carrots, launched a new collection of personal care products and a 501C3 non-profit venture, the Yes to Carrots Seed Fund, which aims to empower women by helping them plant sustainable, organic community gardens.

Leffler brought a farmer’s market to life during his vegetarian luncheon presentation in New York City to raise awareness of the positive effects of giving back to communities through his new venture. He also announced the recent addition of tomatoes and cucumbers to his formerly all carrot-based brand, just two years old and sold in just under 20,000 stores across 17 countries.

Brand Ingenuity

Laura Geller announced the re-branding of her line, now called Laura Geller Brand Ingenuity, at an event in New York City.

Geller’s newly redesigned brand is now expanding into the drugstore channel, as well, as it branches into CVS stores in Washington, D.C. and California as part of the retailer’s Beauty 360 store-within-a-store concept. “We have been very strategic about our rollout plans and we feel the time is right for this re-branding,” Geller said.

Her refreshed brand offers a cosmetics collection, among other items, which is formulated in Italy, and blended and baked for 24 hours in terracotta pans to create rich textures and vibrancy.

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