Men put more dollars into the lighter scents Gifts: Heavy-smelling colognes of the '80s that women often bought are being challenged by cheaper, outdoorsy aromas many men are buying for themselves.

June 13, 1996|By Roy H. Campbell | Roy H. Campbell,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

Think light if fragrance tops your list of gift ideas for Father's Day.

The heavy scents, such as Polo and Bijan, popular in the 1980s, still sell well, but the sweet smell of success surrounds a new breed of lighter scents.

The blockbusters now are Polo Sport, Tommy by Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, Nautica, Davidoff Cool Water, CK One -- all sporty, subtle scents. CK One alone did more than $100 million in sales last year, compared with the industry average of about $25 million.

The lighter scents are to strong colognes what eau de toilette is to women's perfume. They're cheaper, and they're meant to be smelled up close. Most smell of citrus or other outdoorsy aromas and are aimed at a younger man or one who leads an active lifestyle. All come with ancillary products for skin and hair, primarily because an active life demands increased attention to those areas. (After-shave, once a must, has fallen by the wayside.)

CK One and the slew of fresh scents are marketed and sold in novel ways.

Unlike those of years past, the advertisements are not based on appeal to the opposite sex -- no beautiful woman hanging on the arm of a man standing in front of a sports car. Instead, they show men rowing boats, climbing mountains, playing basketball or swimming. And when sex appeal is used, it's generally a bare-chested man posing provocatively.

And while GQ and other upscale magazines get the bulk of the prestige fragrance ads, Tommy is also splashed across ad pages in the Source, Vibe and other hip-hop magazines because Tommy Hilfiger's sportswear is so popular with that set.

Generally, the light colognes start at about $25 for 2.5 ounces, compared with $42 for stronger scents.

Their popularity, industry officials say, come because, unlike previous generations, young or active men are more inclined to buy their own fragrances and select scents to match their lifestyles. Before, women made the purchases and accounted for the majority of cologne sales. Women often sniffed favorably upon heavier or musky scents.

As usual during gift-giving season, the men's fragrance counters at department stores are packed with duffel bags, T-shirts and other items that are free or at low cost with a cologne purchase.

Michael Feuling, Polo Sport vice president of marketing, said the gift-with-purchase promotion is the perfume industry's way of competing with other retail products.

"In the rest of the store, you see items on sale, but we never put fragrance on sale. Our version of putting something on sale is to put a product with it," he said.

So if there are two fathers on your gift list, you can always give one the fragrance and the other the gym bag.

Tips for tie-buying

Ties and Father's Day are like Thanksgiving and turkey. Seems you can't have one without the other.

But this traditional gift is fraught with problems -- usually bad choices by the gift-giver. How many men have received a tie from a spouse or child, worn it once, then pushed it to the back of the tie rack and never allowed it to see the light of day again?

Bet there are plenty.

However, if you must, absolutely must, give a tie to your favorite pop, keep the following in mind:

No matter how cute you might think it is, men are seldom amused by those wacky ties with stupid sayings or whimsical designs -- light bulbs and the like.

Cheap ties, no matter how attractive, are threadbare in no time, seldom knot properly, and don't hold up to dry cleaning. Better to pay $40 or more for a good silk tie that will last than $12 for a cheapo that will wind up in the garbage can.

Check out Dad's tie racks to see if there are certain designers, companies or patterns he prefers. He is more likely to wear ties he is comfortable with and more likely to admire you for taking the time to personalize the gift.

No monograms unless you know that the father of choice is one of those who doesn't mind his initials on his clothes. Ditto with tie tacks, collar bars and other tie jewelry. Most men can do without them.

Pub Date: 6/13/96

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