Expert's Opinion

Putting the Joy Back into Fragrance

By Sue Phillips, Scenterprises Ltd. | November 29, 2010

Here’s how to turn the 62 million occasional fragrance wearers into everyday users.

How do we bring the magic, mystery, intrigue and joy back to the fragrance industry? It is no secret that every research company has stated that the fragrance industry is down—some statistics state by 7%, and others anonymously say that it could be as bad as 15-20% below last year.
Thousands of new fragrances across all channels of distribution launch ever year, outdating fragrances that had launched the previous year. Because of the slowdown in the economy and the consumer’s diminishing disposable income, companies are using inferior raw materials at the expense of high quality ingredients, to try and grab “share of wallet.” One perfumer told me that he is totally “disappointed in the quality of recent launches” and that he is “personally frustrated” that the briefs he gets are for much reduced-price-per-pound pricing...sometimes by as much as a 50% reduction in raw materials. This has resulted in too many new fragrances being launched which are “me-too,” utter consumer confusion because of the plethora of choices, and therefore a hesitancy to buy new products, preferring to use up what they have.
I recently flipped through October’s In Style magazine and found nine fragrance ads with scent strips, and eight fragrance ads without scent strips—17 perfume ads in one magazine! There is also a sameness to each of the scent strips, many are fruity florals, two are sheer oriental, one is chypre, and one is very sweet—only the last two are slightly different, but even the “slurry” on the scent strip has begun to smell similar…mostly due to the chemical ingredients being used. Many of the “image” ads also have a sameness—a bottle shot alone in the center of the page with the brand name at either the top or bottom of the page, or the eponymous “femme fatale” on the left of the page with the bottle on the right, or a couple in the center of the page with the FOR HIM and FOR HER bottles on the lower right. WHY does everything look and smell the same? In an industry that prides itself on innovation and newness, there seems to be a cookie cutter approach. And where is the “exclusiveness” and “surprise” of discovering a fragrance scent strip in a magazine? There are too many scent strips in magazines, with not much differentiation.

Despite the gloomy fragrance forecast, consumers are seeking to express their individuality and to reflect their personalities in the fragrances they wear. Why should they use what everyone else does? With so many celebrities, singers, actors, performers and designer scents in the marketplace, consumer pull back has happened. One major trend to emerge is that consumers are seeking custom perfumery, signature fragrances and bespoke scents because they love perfume and can now wear their OWN brand! To create one’s own unique signature is magical, creative, and inspiring. Guests attend a seminar or workshop and evaluate exquisite high-quality perfume blends. We at Scenterprises Ltd., distributor of The Perfume Studio, offer a “fragrance journey” and give an overview of the history of fragrance and some of the iconic fragrances that define the perfume trends throughout the ages. These seminars are educational, informative, interesting, innovative, creative and FUN! We have brought back the joy of perfumery and at the end of the event, guests name their own creation, leave with a Certificate of Registration inscribed with their “formula,” and are thrilled with their unique creation.
These seminar workshops are attended by individuals, couples, groups, and are also for spouse and bridal programs, corporate team-building events, motivational and inspirational programs. Their overwhelming desire is to learn and understand WHAT goes into a fragrance and to select the blends which they love, knowing that they have truly created something unique with the highest quality ingredients. They love knowing that this is more than a perfume, it’s an experience!
NPD cites that, though 83% of American women wear fragrance, only 36% say they wear it every day. The lesson for perfume executives? Do not chase first-time perfume buyers. Instead, try to turn the 62 million occasional wearers who still love fragrance, into everyday users, with unique, wonderful, beautifully-smelling creations. This will, surely, spur growth in the fine fragrance industry!

In my next column I will discuss environmental scenting, which creates spectacular multi-sensory events. This is another huge trend targeted by Ad Age as one of the top trends to watch for in this decade.

About the author
Sue Phillips, international fragrance expert, was born in South Africa, resides in New York, and is a recognized branding,sales and marketing executive. Sue’s distinguished career includes senior executive positions atElizabeth Arden, Lancôme and Tiffany & Company.

As vice president of fragrance at Tiffany's, she introduced andsuccessfully launched Tiffany perfume for its 150th anniversary inthe USA and worldwide.

Sue has been responsible for re-branding and re-imaging companies and developed strategic licensing opportunities for major apparelcompanies seeking to enter the personal care market. She createdinnovative fragrance board games, which were used to launch a major women’s fragrance.

For five years Sue acted as adjunct professor, cosmetic & fragrance marketing at Fashion Institute of Technology, training a new generation of fragrance marketers.

In 1992, Sue formed Scenterprises Ltd, a global fragrance consultancyfocused on: product development, marketing, sales and strategic branddevelopment. Scenterprises Ltd, has successfully implemented initiatives for Avon, Bath & Body Works, Chanel, Oilily and Trish McEvoy to name a few.

Today, Sue develops environmental scenting for the retail, hospitality and gaming industries for top hotels, spas, resorts and casinos. She helps to “scent-brand”selected properties with their own proprietary fragrance. Recognizingthe potential of environmental scenting and scent branding, Sue is atthe forefront of this burgeoning new industry.
In 2008, Sue’s company, Scenterprises Ltd, was named USA Distributor for The Perfume Studio, UK, offering custom perfume seminars and workshops for individuals, couples, groups, the bridal market, spas, salons and corporate team building initiatives. Guests are taken on a “fragrance journey” to evaluate 18 exquisite blends, and learn about the magic and joy of fragrance.

Sue is a contributing editor of Glow beauty magazine and has written many articles on fragrance, and the correlation of Smell and Taste, and is a frequent guest speaker at industry seminars. Sue appeared on Fox Business TV, KUSI TV, and San Diego Living TV, and was named the “IT” Girl on Sue can be reached at;; Tel: 917-449-1134; Facebook: Sue Phillips, Scenterprises; Twitter: @scentfullysue, @suegail, @scenterprises