NEW YORK — Coty Inc. is setting off on a new route, called “Coty Protopia,” which melds science, sustainability and art. That is being pioneered by the niche fragrance brand Infiniment Coty Paris and Orveda’s new Omnipotent Concentrate serum — both in beauty’s ultra-premium segment.
“Protopia is not a dystopia, because nobody wants to live in a dystopic world,” said Sue Y. Nabi, chief executive officer of Coty. “Protopia is not a utopia either, which is something fantastic, but you know [it] is never going to happen.”
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Instead, protopia is a direction Coty brands will move toward, one small step at a time, start-up-like, with innovation and science, sustainability, and arts and cultural relevance at its core. The idea is to empower bold and creative beauty expressions.
Since Nabi joined Coty in 2020, she has focused on balancing the company’s portfolio between its two divisions and growth at the various brands, while revving up new engines to drive the group.
“We are a leader in the prestige [fragrance] market,” she said. “But we are a leader with still a lot of white-space opportunities.”
Nabi underlined Coty is very strong on entry prestige, with bands such as Davidoff, Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein, and has a robust portfolio of prestige perfume brands, such as Burberry, Gucci and Chloé.
Yet the ultra-niche fragrance segment, which generates between 10 percent and 15 percent of the perfume market today, is growing fast and at a more rapid pace than other scent categories.
“There, we are underrepresented at Coty,” Nabi said.
While focusing on its existing fragrance activities, the group plans to become a serious contender in the ultra-premium perfume space.
Coty’s Gucci Alchemist Garden is selling strongly, while Burberry Signature is relaunching. What’s doing the best sales growth-wise, with market-share gains, is Chloé Atelier des Fleurs.
“This is becoming one of the fastest-growing brands inside the company,” Nabi said.
Concurrently, Coty decided to work with pure fragrance players not linked to fashion. Two years ago, in a discussion with herself, Orveda’s other cofounder Nicolas Vu, and Coty group chairman Peter Harf, Harf told them the story about Coty and fragrances. In the early 1900s, François Coty invented synthetic molecules at a time when perfumery focused on natural ingredients.
“This company was the first to invent synthetic fragrances,” said Nabi, citing as an example La Rose Jacqueminot. “So we said at the end of the day, if you are the inventor of modern perfumery, the same way CoverGirl was the inventor of clean beauty, why don’t we reignite this heritage?”
That’s exactly what Coty has decided to do, decades after its eponymous prestige scents disappeared from the market.
“But instead of doing what everyone does, which is to say: ‘OK, let’s try to do a kind of vintage brand, using the bottles of the past, maybe revamping the scents of the past’ — no. The past is the past,” Nabi said. “Now, what is the future?”
The executive explained she decided to pour into the new brand what can be considered the best in terms of innovation, sustainability and cultural relevance. (Think cutting-edge green technologies such as carbon-positive alcohol.)
“The story is about infinite possibilities. There will be something very innovative in terms of packaging,” said Nabi, adding there is a patent pending for that.
The formula is also patent-pending, marking the first perfume to ultimately have patents for both formulation and packaging.
“I believe this category is becoming a performance category, not just an artistic category,” said Nabi, of ultra-prestige scents. “So the best of our know-how and the most advanced know-how of the company will be in this bottle.
“These bottles will become pieces of art,” she continued, of what will be a 14-sku line. “They have been created to become a canvas for artists to create whatever they want.”
Two bottles will incorporate art by two young African artists, for instance.
“The bottles have been created to become pieces of art — we call it ‘artcycling’ — instead of recycling or upcycling,” Nabi said.
Infinement Coty Paris has partnered with the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair.
Another upcoming product innovation is the new patent-pending multifunctional serum Omnipotent from Orveda, the vegan, sustainability-minded and genderless brand.
“It says everything just by the name,” Nabi said. “I believe this is perhaps the most — if not one of the most — powerful serums of all times.”
She said it’s in continuity with Orveda’s focus, which is on strengthening the skin’s barrier, taking care of its microbiome and beautifying, using high doses of actives.
While creating the product, billed to act on all levels of skin, at the same time as it repairs past damage and boosts skin conditions today, the notion of longevity has been kept in mind.
“This is the idea of living longer, living better — health span rather than lifespan,” Nabi said. “We believe longevity is the new ageless.”
She explained Omnipotent “is going to invent a new way to prevent aging.”
Nabi is building Orveda similarly to Lancaster, another Coty-owned brand, with the goal of creating on a small scale the recipe for success. Orveda has a few doors, like a dozen, as does Lancaster in China. Those are being used as laboratories, to test selling techniques and storylines.
Orveda is further strengthening its longstanding link with fashion by collaborating with the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation as a sponsor for aspiring fashion designers from Africa and Asia.
Omnipotent will come to market in August, while Infiniment Coty Paris is expected to begin being sold in early 2024.
“We want to start by creating desirability, exclusivity and rarity,” Nabi said of the distribution plan for both Orveda and the new Coty perfume brand. “We believe this is the futuristic way to sell beauty, especially ultra-premium beauty.”
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