May 3, 2007

It's All in the Marketing

Today is the birthday of Francois Coty, the famous French parfumeur, and founder of the Coty empire.

What I find particularly interesting about Coty is that he was the first to recognize the importance of packaging to the perfume industry. Prior to Coty, perfumes had been sold in rather nondescript containers, and marketing consisted primarily in advertising that the manufacturer was parfumeur to Lord So-and-so or Lady Such-and-such. Coty recognized that perfume was a luxury item, and should be packaged as such. He commissioned the successful jewelry designer, Rene Lalique, to design bottles for his perfumes. Later designs were commissioned to Baccarat Crystal and Leon Bakst, who designed settings and costumes for the first Ballet Russe. (Bakst's "powder puff" design is still in use on the box for Coty's Airspun Powder.)

Another example of Coty's marketing genius can be seen in his ploy to sell his product to the Grande Magasins du Louvre, a major department store in Paris. After being turned down, Coty turned to leave and "accidentally" dropped a bottle of La Rose Jacqueminot, which shattered on the floor. As the fragrance permeated the store, dozens of swooning women demanded to know where they could buy the stunning perfume. The store placed their first order for 12 bottles, and the other Parisian department stores soon follow suit.

It is a matter of conjecture whether or not Coty hired the swooning women.

Photo: © Leila Haj-hassan

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