The vogue for all things retro has sparked an intense interest in the classic colognes that have left a lasting mark on today’s blockbuster fragrances. There has been a huge revival in the refreshing spritzes of some of the most legendary names in the fragrance business, particularly in Asia. And they don’t come much bigger or have more heritage than 4711. Over the past five years, Maurer & Wirtz, who also own Tabac, the iconic men’s fragrance, has been re-positioning 4711 as a contemporary juice to appeal to Millennials and Gen Zers aged 20 to 40. The German company also set its sights on the premium end of the fragrance market and debuted the 4711 Aqua Colonia collection, a unisex range made from high quality ingredients such as lavender, ginger and myrrh known for their positive effect on body, mind and soul.

To accelerate international expansion, Maurer & Wirtz have used travel retail as a major launch pad. The Asia/Pacific region, which has fueled the great cologne resurgence, has been a major target in the re-positioning of 4711 and Aqua Colonia has rolled out in major airports from China to India, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Airlines such as Lufthansa, Royal Jordanian and EVA from Taiwan have also included the world-famous brand in amenity kits owing to its unparalleled reputation for refreshment and invigoration.

Expert Guidance/Trends Have Come Full Circle

In late 2017, Sally Desancic started a new distribution company for fragrances as part of Core Metrics, the business she founded with her husband Ray. The company’s portfolio of six top-selling brands includes market leaders in affordable, naturally-based skincare such as The Goat skincare and C.Lab & Co. Widely-known as The Perfume Hunter, Desancic worked for leading distributors such as Trimex and Hagemeyer and the My Chemist group for more than 30 years, successfully introducing some of the world’s most prestigious brands to the Australian market and delivering sales and marketing strategies for such major names as Estée Lauder, Givenchy, Nina Ricci, Kenzo and Clarins.

The first fragrance to be launched was Women’Secret and the portfolio now includes all the fragrances from Perfumes y Diseno, the Spanish company which develops and markets fragrances for international brands in over 80 markets, such as Tous, Halloween, Philippe Starck and Desigual, says Desancic. “Following Maurer & Wirtz’ successful campaign in repositioning 4711 and Tabac, especially in Asia, I felt the time was right to grow their presence in the Australian market. 4711 has always had a major cult following in Australia because its benefits suit our climate. But trends have come full circle and heritage brands like 4711 have many of the attributes today’s younger generation are looking for”.

Multi-Benefits For All Ages/Unbeatable Heritage

Firstly, like the best-selling Eau Dynamisante from Clarins, 4711 is a treatment fragrance, says Desancic. “It’s also multi-purpose which is another strong beauty trend now. Pop a bottle in the fridge to cool yourself down on a hot day, use as an aftershave, an aftersport refresher or even a disinfectant at a pinch. That’s why we are ranging large 800ml and 300ml bottles because of the many uses of 4711 and there’s also a 90ml bottle to slip into handbags”. Desancic also wants to reinforce 4711 as a full body range. “We will also be focusing on scent-impregnated tissues and a body spray. People are accustomed to using wipes and the tissues are also perfect for all ages. 4711 also connects with the fast-growing clean beauty trend. It has only eight main ingredients which appeals to consumers looking for products with minimal ingredients because they are very conscious of what they put on their skin. The hygiene aspect is also an important selling point in our climate as it is in Asia”. There’s a lot of talk about newness but customers of all age groups, especially Millennials, love heritage, notes Desancic, and 4711 delivers in spades. According to company legend, in 1792 a Carthusian monk gave founder Wilhelm Muelhens a secret recipe for “aqua mirabilis” as a wedding present. The young businessman began producing the “miracle water” as a health drink and revitalising elixir. During the French occupation of Cologne at the time of the Napoleonic wars, the occupying forces proclaimed that the formulas for medicines must be publicly disclosed. Muelhens dodged the legislative bullet by re-branding his signature product as a fragrance. The French also ordered the numbering of houses in the German city to assist in the billeting of their soldiers and the re-birthed fragrance factory in the Glockengasse – still the brand’s flagship store – was designated number 4711.

Prestige Yet Affordable Strategy/Mother’s Day Launch

The Aqua Colonia collection represents a more upmarket yet still affordable direction for 4711. Each fragrance is presented in a 170ml
bottle and is inspired by nature, says Desancic. “We will be launching five of the fragrances in April in time for Mother’s Day – Pink Pepper & Grapefruit, Blood Orange & Basil, Myrrh & Kumquat, Lemon & Ginger and White Peach & Coriander. They will be priced at an affordable $59.00 and are perfect for mix-and-match layering like more expensive brands such as Jo Malone, Creed and Tom Ford”. Desancic is already confident of Aqua Colonia’s success with the range’s alluring at-home spa and well-being appeal. “Later this year we will introduce three more fragrances – Saffron & Iris, Mandarine & Cardamom and Lime & Nutmeg. Next year, we will release the Intense lineup as consumers look for different scents to relax and escape from their busy schedules”.
Tabac Takes Aim at Younger Men/Cues in with Barbershop Trend The tart and spicy woods, musk and amber notes of Tabac Original debuted in 1959 and Maurer & Wirtz has also been working hard to target younger, fashion-conscious Gen Z and Millennial males. The return of barbershops as hip hangouts in Australia and globally has catapulted Tabac onto the radar of younger men. A pop-up Tabac Barbershop debuted at the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes in 2016 and has rolled out internationally in the UK, Germany, South Africa and Spain. Tabac sales are stronger than 4711 in Australia, says Desancic, and the brand is also sold by upmarket men’s grooming specialists such as Men’s Biz”. Men are very sensible, says Desancic, when it comes to quality and value. “Tabac taps into the growth of contemporary barbershops in Australia’s capital cities as an affordable luxury. We will be ranging the 100ml eau de toilette, the 300ml aftershave, the 300ml eau de cologne and the body spray and shaving foam – all affordably priced. Men tend to use products sparingly, so a big part of the appeal of the invigorated Tabac brand will be maximum value for little outlay”. Maurer & Wirtz took over the Baldessarini men’s fragrance brand from Procter & Gamble in 2012. The acquisition was in line with the company’s goal of expanding its presence in the prestige category and boosting international sales. The Baldessarini range has been a strong driver of growth in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. “We also have the distribution rights for Baldessarini but more about that in the future”, adds Desancic.

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