Issue Date: January 2005
Britney Wraps it Up: The Launch of Curious
Walk into a department store and you might witness Elizabeth Hurley applying Estée Lauder’s Elizabeth Pink lipstick. Or head over to the cosmetic counter to see Ashley Judd P-O-Ps endorsing BeautyBank’s American Beauty line for 25 to 50-year-olds. If you continue on to the perfume section, you can test Coty’s new perfume for teens, mary-kateandashley, endorsed by the teen idol Olson twins. But if you walked into Macy’s in New York City this past fall, you wouldn’t find anything on the entire first floor other than posters of Britney Spears sporting her new fragrance and beauty line, Curious by Elizabeth Arden.
With Catherine Zeta-Jones already signed up as spokesperson for Elizabeth Arden’s Provocative Woman Eau de Parfum and Elizabeth Taylor carrying White Diamonds’ and Passion’s torch for years, the global marketer and manufacturer of prestige beauty products is targeting the younger generation, 15 to 30-year-old women through powerful pop-icon Britney Spears. But Elizabeth Arden knew that not even Spears’ name could pull it off without packaging suppliers that could keep up with the demand of a hit beauty line.
Off the Charts
When it comes down to it, the beauty business is all about glamour, and who better to portray it than the stars themselves? In fact, Spears’ star power was so potent that it blew stocks right off the shelves of Macy’s New York in the first three weeks of its launch. In anticipation of Curious’ record-breaking results, expecting first-year sales of US$40-US$50 million in sales in the U.S. alone, the global prestige fragrance and beauty products company signed up suppliers that included packagers FiberMark, RK and Heinz Glas geared with high-volume capacity and quick turnaround time to support a heavy demand product.
Last March, Elizabeth Arden announced the signing of an exclusive global licensing agreement with Britney Spears, a deal that some reports estimate could net Spears between US$10 million to US$20 million over the next five years. The contract requires Spears’ collaboration in the development and marketing of a fragrance, skin care and color cosmetics line backed by the singer’s exclusive endorsement.
The creation of Britney Spears’ own beauty line completes Elizabeth Arden’s brand portfolio by targeting the growing global tween to young-adult market, a more lucrative demographic than the company’s other lines endorsed by actresses Elizabeth Taylor and Catherine Zeta-Jones. “The target for Curious is women ages 15 to 30. This is a younger demographic than those formerly targeted,” indicated sources at Elizabeth Arden.
Spears and Elizabeth Arden worked with professional noses Ann Gottlieb and Claude Dir of Quest International, a top fragrance company, to develop the scent and roll it out just three months after the contract was inked. “I love perfume and cosmetics,” said Spears at the announcement of the new brand in March, “and am so excited to develop my own line with Elizabeth Arden.” The fragrance combines Louisiana magnolia, a wink at Spears’ home state, anjou pear and dewy lotus flower. At the heart of the blend is tuberose, star jasmine and pink cyclamen, with an undertone of vanilla musk, creamy sandalwood and radiant blond wood base notes.
Elizabeth Arden president, Paul West, added at the contract signing, “She is a talented, fashionable woman who appeals to a young and international consumer base. Together with our department store trade partners, we will introduce a glamorous fragrance concept to the U.S. market.”
The first among the range of Britney-backed products to be churned out over the next two years, Curious debuted September 14, 2004 at Macy’s in New York and hit the ground running, selling beyond expectations in department stores throughout the U.S. “Curious was launched in U.S. department stores in September and has exceeded both retailer and industry expectations,” says a source from Elizabeth Arden. “It is currently the number one ranked fragrance in U.S. department stores.”
Beauty in the Box
No doubt, the hype is in Spears attaching her name to Elizabeth Arden’s new fragrance, but the rest is wrapped up in the unique design of its packaging.
“Not only does the perfume embody Spears’ own style and personality, but the bottle and secondary packaging were designed to reflect the pop star’s youthful spirit yet touch of sophistication,” pointed out Rick Plaut, director of sales and marketing, decorative packaging, FiberMark.
The external packaging consists of pink and blue folding carton that when uncovered by an exterior shell, opens up like a flower. Holding together both the pink, multi-folded base and the atomizer is a black paperboard cover, supplied by FiberMark, which is decorated with cut outs of youthful flower and butterfly shapes to reveal the sharp contrast with the shockingly pink and blue box
In harmony with the broad age group the beauty line targets, the adolescent pink and blue colors of the box are tamed by the sophisticated black cover. “The carton designer at Elizabeth Arden did a great job of bringing everything together,” explained Plaut. “[The packaging] is the first thing people see, and the reason that Elizabeth Arden chose…the really deep, rich black… is that she’s sophisticated. The interior package is decorated with blue and pink, but when you put the black paper over it, now it’s got elegance with a subtext that’s teenage, and that’s what she’s all about.”
The 18-point folding carton stock, not typically marketed to the cosmetic industry, is finished with a matte film laminated to the board to make the gloss even. The smoothness of the paper allows the film to adhere to the board without blemishes, thus facilitating print and die-cutting.
“The fact that they were able to cut these little circles in the black board and not have little fibers sticking out is very much a function of the type of paper you use. Because of the way we make paper, very dense and very heavy, it cuts very cleanly,” said Plaut.
Best of Bottles
The bottle supplier won over Elizabeth Arden on both history and design. “Our reputation for making fine cosmetic glass bottles has become very well known with our manufacturing of difficult to produce glass bottles like the Vera Wang Women’s Fragrance bottles,” said Doug Thompson, CCO, Heinz Glas USA, Inc.
Flaunting a 1920s retro look, the 1.7 oz and 3.3 oz glass atomizers, designed and manufactured by Heinz Glas, hold the fragrance and come complete with an attachable spray. “The retro design of the bottle is very similar to an old Heinz Glas bottle that was produced first semi-automatically in the 1930s by founder Carl August Heinz,” said Doug Thompson, CCO, Heinz Glas USA, Inc.
Curious marked the largest launch in Elizabeth Arden history, a fact which weighed heavily when choosing the suppliers. “Elizabeth Arden looks to work with the top suppliers in each respective field, and each of the factors [capacity, service, turn around time on a new order or increased request for units and quality] is critical to a successful relationship,” noted Elizabeth Arden sources.
With plans to introduce Curious in U.S. stores plus several thousand more overseas, the pipeline to get the product into all of the stores in the quantities they need can be daunting.
The German glass maker, which has produced special heavy weight glass bottles since 1622, has not rested on its laurels. Over the years, Heinz Glas has invested heavily in fully automated machinery to become more flexible in its manufacturing process, and today produces the classic 1930s atomizer fully automatically. “We can manufacture three cosmetic glass bottles, with three different glass weights, on one IS machine,” said Thompson. “We are also bringing on a new furnace early next year to maintain our attractive lead times and our flexibility. We will not have a problem keeping ahead of the heavy demand of production for this great selling fragrance.”
As demands for Curious remain unwavering, suppliers need to possess flexibility and maintain quick turn around times. “The service we are able to supply to their carton manufacturer and the manufacturer’s ability to service them to produce it all in a very short time period saves Elizabeth Arden a lot of money because they can reduce the amount of time the material sits in a warehouse,” said Plaut. “So the service aspect of it, beyond the quality of the board, beyond the way it looks, beyond how nicely it runs, getting it there on time is really important. A nice partnership between RK, the manufacturer, and us enabled us to meet our demand.”
Although sources at Elizabeth Arden did not confirm the number of units generated thus far, Heinz Glas confirmed that “the quantities have been very high.” While the suppliers who are busily filling back orders for Curious don’t share the limelight with Britney Spears and Elizabeth Arden, they are just as much in the know. As FiberMark’s Plaut stated, “Elizabeth Arden has said it’s beyond meeting their expectations.”