Luciano Bertinelli is a veteran in the fragrance industry. Starting with Bulgari perfumes, which he set up, 26 years ago, today he is the CEO of Ferragamo Parfums, which he has helmed for 17 years now. Right from setting up a team – he says they were a handful of people in a room – to identifying trends, interesting olfactives, and markets for expansion, he has developed the Salvatore Ferragamo Parfums signature from scratch. Today, he heads a team of 70 people, has given Salvatore Ferragamo a 1 percent market share in the world and made it available in 90 countries, and created the brand’s flagship line, Signorina, and the exclusive 11-piece Tuscan Creations. The latest in the Ferragamo arsenal is the Amo Ferragamo, a playful, flirty, and sensual scent, which became available in India late last year. Recently in the country to spread the word about it, Lifestyle Asia caught up with Bertinelli to understand the latest developments at the perfume brand.
How have you seen Salvatore Ferragamo Parfums and the industry evolve over the 17 years you have been with the company?
We have evolved 100 percent because the market is so rapidly evolving. 20 years ago it was so different. We try to forecast trends, but the evolution is quick. In fragrances, more and more people are loving niche products with natural ingredients, something that is tailor-made for them. When we talk about big numbers, the classic products still win, but you have to pay attention to quality. People are ready to spend money but need to have quality.
What is the appeal of Salvatore Ferragamo perfumes in the Indian market?
India has incredible potential, especially given how historically it is linked to fragrances. But to be honest, we are still at the beginning here. We still need to work, to invest for sure, to put the right product in the market, to invest in the right [online] channels and key opinion leaders. This is more important than investing in a page in advertising. We see India as a long-term plan, as opposed to, say China, which runs through everything quickly.
We will continue to launch more products and invest in points of sale. We are present in key cities, and need to decide if should go to Tier 2 cities, maybe through e-commerce.
How much do you draw from maison Salvatore Ferragamo?
We are a part of the maison and have all the freedom to create products we consider are the best for us. We try to start from our DNA. Leather goods, iconic symbols. Like in Signorina, there is the Vara bow. That is a typical iconic symbol that we try to develop. If you put the DNA of the house in a bottle, it is a success. I am working on a project for February 2020 for men, where again we are using symbols from the core business, to put an element that is fundamental to us.
Amo Ferragamo was the big launch last year- what has the response been like?
Amo is for millennials, 25-30, young, very independent women. She loves to play with life, loves to party, and loves herself. She has men at her feet. She is the girl you can find around the world.
In America, Latin America, China, and Italy [naturally] the perfume is booming. A little bit less in Japan. We are going to launch a lighter version for the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. They love it, but it’s too strong.
Why do you think Signorina retains the position as your best-selling line?
Because we really try to put the DNA of the brand in it. The Vara bow is one of the more iconic symbols. We try to concentrate our history in one bottle. It is nice, cute, young, and we have different stories, because there are different editions. Now in September, we will launch a new edition and continue the Signorina story.
Last year also saw the launch of the exclusive Tuscan Creations. What was the idea behind it?
We live in Tuscany, and so the concept is the location. We decided to develop it to be in line with niche products – there are 11 products, all very high quality. The caps are real leather. All the names are in Italian. We try to tell our story and the story of Tuscany through it, be it the marble or Florence or Rinascimento [Rennaisaance] – we try and capture these through different olfactive notes.
Today, there are many modern perfumers, new-age ingredients, and high quality. How does a brand set itself apart?
Every year there are 400-500 new fragrances being launched. It is so crowded, and brands are ready to pump in millions. When I started [with Bulgari in 1993], it was a different time – there was no internet for one. Now it is too much. We [industry] keep developing and the customer continues to ask. But also, if you keep doing this, the quality will drop and the customer will go away. So one has to find the right balance between the two. Quality is of prime importance. It’s not just the smell – it’s about natural ingredients, green ingredients. We try to follow that.
What according to you makes a perfume iconic?
It’s a combination – there is no magical recipe. It is a combination of special accords, and a good marketing mix – the bottle and the communication.
What’s next for Ferragamo Parfums?
A lighter version of Amo Ferragamo – Amo Ferragamo Flowerful, which will launch in June-July; and in September the last chapter of Signorina, for which we will reboost the Signorina story with a new digital campaign. And in February 2020, there is something for men.