The Sweet Smell of Success for Women's Fragrance

By Katie Rodgers, European Cosmetic Markets | April 30, 2008

Women’s fragrance will always be a key market for the Big 5 across Europe, and interestingly, research shows that men’s fragrance is also gaining in popularity, while unisex scents also look to be making a comeback across the board.
Demand for scent has never been sweeter, with the French, German, Spanish and Italian fragrance markets all recording an upturn in the past year, both in percentage growth and unit sales. However, despite being worth just over $1billion, the UK market was not so fortunate last year, as value declined 0.2%. 
In terms of how individual channels fared, the mass market continues to be a key area for fragrance sales, with all countries posting an increase in turnover. The pharmacy channel, sadly, has not been so lucky with declines being recorded in most areas here.
The French fragrance market has had marked success in the past year, with sales of female fragrance increasing 4.5% to a whopping total $2 billion. The mass market rose 8.2% to $156 million, while the direct sales channel also jumped, rising 5.3% to $138 million. In the selective channel, the largest channel, sales were able to overtake the other channels by some distance, posting a gain of 4.4% to $1.7 billion. On the downside, the pharmacy channel plunged 27.4% to just $150,000.

Designer Scents in France

In the new products arena, there is a definite emergence of a new dominating trend in France—designer and lifestyle fragrances. This trend has grown more prominent in 2007 and the beginning of this year with Morgan, MaxMara (Selective Beauty), Carolina Herrera, Mango (Puig), Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger (Estée Lauder) all bringing new scents to market.
MaxMara’s fragrance offering borrowed a traditionally male note of nutmeg and musk to create a floral yet spicy scent, created by Vincent Schaller. Burberry also went for a musky scent for its The Beat fragrance, combining it with a bluebell accord, ceylon tea with iris and top notes of bergamot, cardamom and pink pepper.
In 2007, the German fragrance market posted a 4.3% gain to more than $1.1 billion, even as volume dipped slightly (0.7%) to 33.3 million units. As far as formats were concerned, the eau de toilettes sector took the majority of the turnover, with $526 million worth of sales, up 1.2% on the previous year. Eau de parfums were next, gaining 9% to $523.8 million.
There was an influx of fresh, floral launches onto the German market last year, veering away from the traditional German preference for heavy, musky scents.
Salvatore Ferragamo recently launched a spinoff of its Incanto fragrance. Incanto Heaven (ITF Cosmetics) was created by Béatrice Piquet from Mane and opens with sparkling notes of grapefruit and seringa blossom rounded off by fruity red apple.
Last September, Chopard’s latest floral fragrance entry, Happy Spirit, hit the shelves in Germany. Composed by Dominique Ropion from IFF, the scent is described as evoking the feeling of falling head over heels in love. The fragrance opens with notes of yuzu fruit and blood orange melting into a heart of honeysuckle and raspberry sorbet.

Italy’s Recipe for Success

The woman’s fragrance sector in Italy put in an impressive performance last year, having had a reversal in sales fortunes after a few years of sluggish decline. This is even more commendable when one takes into account the country’s difficult economic pressures, though this didn’t seem to affect perfume sales in 2007, with Italian women happier than ever to spend their money on smelling good.
The selective channel grew 3.3% and accounted for a 26% share of the total market, while the mass market managed a rise in turnover of 1.1%. Together, they helped sales in the women’s fragrance sector jump 3.9% to $623 million, well above the market growth as a whole (at 2.5%) and better than many of the other Italian cosmetics and toiletries categories.
Last year’s fragrance launches were not typified by a glut of flanker scents or line extensions as has been the case in previous years and this provided welcome relief. Most of the big brands produced entirely new stand-alone scents to reinvent the brands as the epitomy of style and elegance.
The infamous Paris Hilton is even selling scents in the UK.
L’Oréal’s Emporio Armani brought out Diamonds, a perfume that draws on the precious stone itself in its flacon, a faceted white glass oval, and combines sparkling notes of rose, raspberry and lychee with the depth and clarity of amber and woods.
Fendi (LVMH) also opted for luxury, with Palazzo offering a blend of precious jasmine, orange blossom and Bulgarian rose. The bottle is dressed in golden hues, with the image of a typical Italian palazzo etched on the back.

Sunny Spanish Times for Scent

The female perfumery market in Spain now accounts for 24% of the entire cosmetics and toiletries category, with independent research showing the average consumer spends approximately a third more a year on fragrance than she spends on skin care. It also showed that sales of women’s fragrances are still ahead of men’s sales but that gap is closing rapidly. The top three women’s fragrances in Spain were revealed as Eau de Rochas (P&G Prestige), Agua Fresca de Rosas (Puig) and Amor Amor (Cacharel) and the country also enjoyed a selection of varied and innovative launches.
The Catalan perfumery house, Puig Beauty produced two fragrances that appeared consistently in the top 10 in 2007—Spanish designer, Adolfo Domínguez’s Agua Fresca and the Venezuelan designer 212 Carolina Herrera’s signature perfume. Carolina Herrera’s latest launch CH, whose packaging emulates the designer’s much-coveted handbags, was the top selling woman’s fragrance during the past Christmas season in Spain.

A Pause in the UK

The UK was the only market in the Big 5 contingent that recorded a slight downturn in 2007, though it still accounted for impressive sales overall.  According to TNS Worldpanel Panel, the overall value of the female fragrance market in the UK posted a -0.2% decline $1 billion in 2007. However, the mass market posted an impressive growth rate of 24.1%, boosted by the continued dominance of female celebrity fragrance launches that have saturated the UK market.
Elizabeth Arden made a splash in the UK with the M by Mariah Carey brand, which was made with a marshmallow opening, a heart of Tahitian tiare and gardenia and a base of amber, patchouli flower and morrocan incense. Other celebrity launches in the UK interestingly came from U.S. sources such as Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Lopez and Sarah Jessica Parker. But the market also took inspiration from celebrities closer to home—Coleen McLoughlin topped the fragrance charts last year and offerings from Katie Price (Stunning) Jade Goody (Jade) and Victoria Beckham (Coty’s Intimately Beckham) also made waves on the market.

A Promising Year

So, if last year’s set of results across the Big 5 are anything to go by, 2008 should be a promising year for women’s fragrance. The signs are there that perfume innovation is still rife across all areas of the industry, with manufacturers jostling for poll position as to who can come up with the most attractive bottle, the most innovative marketing campaign and, naturally, the most admired scent. With so much invested in this area, there are sure to be exciting things to come!

European Cosmetic Markets is published monthly by Wilmington Media. It provides in-depth data and analysis of the European cosmetics and toiletries market. For subscription details contact Wilmington Media, More info: (44) 20 7549 8626; Fax: (44) 20 7549 8622.