Liz Claiborne Throws Curve to Macy's

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Combining point-of-sale promotions with a 4 million piece catalog campaign and sweepstakes, Liz Claiborne is looking to pump up sales of its Curve fragrance at Macy's East Inc. stores.

Macy's preseason catalog, which mails to 4 million, included the blow-in piece promoting the sweepstakes and Curve for Women and Curve for Men.

"The problem is retail doesn't have a lot of hype, a lot of fun," said Mary Ellen Myers, regional sales manager at Liz Claiborne Cosmetics. "We're trying to bring customers back. The more innovative we get with promotions and the more we get on their wavelengths, the more they will come in."

That thinking yielded a comparable promotion in 1996, when Curve first launched amid a nationwide Macy's sweepstakes that gave away 30 Chrysler Sebring Jxi Convertibles. This time, it's giving away a 1999 Mazda Miata. Ongoing plans call for a number of other Curve promotions -- one slated to drop in mid-September with Hecht's Department stores and one for later in the year with Filene's. The Hecht's "Brush with Fame" sweepstakes will drop to 1.5 million consumers and provide the chance to be on the set of the Fox hit show "Ally McBeal." Myers said the Filene's promotion still is under development.

Meantime, Liz Claiborne, New York, projects a 10 percent to 12 percent response rate to the current promotion, which targets Cincinnati-based Federated Department Stores Inc.'s 85 eastern seaboard stores that run from Maine to Florida. Myers said Curve sales throughout Macy's stores are up significantly compared to this time last year.

"We are up 30 percent compared to last year and we are pretty happy with that," she said.

The women's product line includes fragrance, body lotion, bath and shower gel, body powder, bath soap, massage oil spray, while the men's line features after-shave, skin soother, hair and body wash, foaming shave gel and massage oil spray.

Strong sales provided an incentive to team with Macy's East.

"Volume-wise, this is our biggest account in the country with our company," Myers said. "They're really good partners. As a rule, everyone looks at them as a national account because it represents such a huge chunk of the business. We thought going with them was going to be profitable for them and would provide an added value."

The promotion's timing is key to pre-empt a heavy autumn promotion period.

"We said why don't we do it during preseason when it's kind of the doldrums of summer," Myers said. "There are so few weeks in the fall season to go in with a big bang. We are competing with cosmetics line and other new launches."

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