Fine Fragrance Trends

October 28, 2005

More culinary-based notes are finding their way into fine fragrances. Celebrity scents are expected to dominate this holiday season.

Women still enjoy fragrances but they’re not dabbing it on their wrists anymore, instead, they’re experimenting with scent in a whole new way—ways that often impede traditional fine fragrance sales.

“Consumers are surrounding themselves with fragrances but their definition of fragrance has changed. It is no longer just ‘perfume,’” said Candace Corlett, principal, WSL Strategic Retail, New York, NY. “They are surrounding themselves with fragrant candles, air fresheners, body lotions and bath gels. The purchase of fragrances in the traditional outlets of department stores and mass retailers may be down but the purchases have shifted to other channels.”

According to the “How America Shops 2004” report by WSL Strategic Retail, it was found that 10% of women were buying more overall but 14% were buying less perfume and fragranced lotions/creams.

Yet, UK-based research firm, Euromonitor International, sales of traditional fine fragrances actually increased in 2004, after declining by almost 2% in 2003.

Battle of the Sexes


Calvin Klein’s Euphoria blends fruits and florals to reflect sensuality.
According to Mintel, a London-based market research firm, more than two thirds of women and teens wear, or have bought, perfume or cologne and women, aged 18-34, are most likely to wear a fragrance, while women over the age of 55 are least likely.

Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago, puts the market for women’s perfumes and colognes/body powder at almost $340 million for the 52-weeks ending Sept. 4, 2005, a 2.2% increase from a year ago. IRI also recorded the market for men’s shaving lotion/cologne/talc at a 9.8% increase from a year ago at almost $352 million

In 2004, the U.S. women’s fragrances market was worth an estimated $4.2 billion, reported Euromonitor. Premium women’s fragrances grew 2%. Premium men’s fragrances did not do so well, declining in current value terms by 1%. The research firm indicates that new product launches in 2004, accompanied by extensive advertising efforts, drove growth in premium women’s fragrances, but sales of premium men’s fragrances were adversely affected by a reduction in the number of high-profile product launches in 2004.

Source Snapdata International, a market research firm based in London, stated that while total mass market sales for women’s fragrances in 2004 were $663.3 million, sales actually fell by 6.8% in 2004. At the same time, men’s mass market fragrance sales increased by 1.1% to $534.4 million.
Source Snapdata International forecasts men’s mass market fragrances to reach $653.7 million in 2009, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.0% from 2005. Women’s mass-market fragrances are projected to decline to $493.9 million from 2005 to 2009, representing a CAGR of -5.8%.

“I think noticeable increases are coming in the male market,” said Kenneth Hirst, president of Hirst Pacific Ltd., New York, NY, a strategic design firm. “Competition in the female market is intense, diluting everyone’s share of the profit.”

A new women’s oriental fragrance from Calvin Klein debuted in September. Euphoria blends fruits and florals such as pomegranate, persimmon, champaca flower, black orchid, liquid amber, mahogany wood and black violet. The bottle was designed to interpret sensuality.

“Every fragrance created relates to a certain element of life. Right now is a time of reinvention. It’s about being open to the unexpected, taking a journey without limits. This fragrance was inspired by the idea of freeing yourself, taking a journey without limits, drifting from dream to reality, fantasy to ecstasy. Euphoria is about living a dream,” said Lori Singer, vice president of global marketing, Calvin Klein Fragrances, New York, NY.

The eau de parfum spray comes in three sizes, 3.4-fl. oz., 1.7-fl. oz. and 1.0-fl. oz. at a retail of $68, $55 and $40, respectively.

The newest scent for women from Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, Carnal Flower, uses tuberose to create a fragrance that is very close to the natural scent of the Mexican herb.

The fragrance features top notes of bergamot, melon and eucalyptus, middle notes of ylang-ylang and jasmine and a drydown of white musk cocktail, coconut, orange blossom absolute and tuberose absolute.

Launching in December, Carnal Flower took about two years to create and features more natural tuberose absolute than any other fragrance on the market, according to the manufacturer. The prices of this new fragrance ranges from $155 for a 50-ml. spray to $230 for a 100-ml. spray.


Star Search

NPD Group, Port Washington, NY, found that celebrity endorsed brands represented 26% of total prestige fragrance sales in 2003. In 2004, it increased to 31%. New brands, as well as classic brands, relied on the stars to help generate interest in the market and this trend continues to grow throughout 2005.

Raven Symoné takes a plunge at the fragrance industry with her new That’s So Raven fragrance.
“Although not a new concept, celebrities have reinvented themselves in the fragrance arena helping to build much-needed excitement and interest,” noted Maria Ianni, fragrance category manager, NPD Beauty. “The celebrity and spokesmodel craze took fragrances by storm in 2004 as Hollywood helped bring glamour to this distressed category. But the excitement extended beyond new launches, as many classic brands continued to maintain strength despite increased competition within this fickle market.”

“Celebrity fragrances have changed the face of the market. Building a successful brand used to take years. Now, with the power of fame, it can be achieved overnight,” explained Mr. Hirst. “More brands are tapping into the celebrity phenomena.”

According to Mintel, female celebrities and young women are taking center stage in the women’s fragrance industry. One such woman is 19-year-old Raven Symoné.

Ms. Symoné has her own television show on the Disney channel entitled, That’s So Raven. The entertainer has partnered with Disney Consumer Products and fragrance makers from boom! to create the That’s So Raven fragrance. The new fragrance contains Ms. Symoné’s favorite top notes vanilla bean, white lily and lemon zest combined with base notes of soft, warm musk.

The fragrance is available at Wal-Mart, department stores, Limited Too and specialty retailers. The collection offers cologne sprays and a fragrance shimmer stick in a suggested retail price range of $7.50-$12.00.

Elizabeth Arden recently signed a fragrance licensing agreement with author Danielle Steel. The partnership marks the author’s entry into the prestige fragrance market. Executives said that the collection would be designed to reflect Ms. Steel’s image and style and the various emotions her characters experience. The fragrance collection is expected to launch in department stores in fall 2006.

Couduroy represents a man’s individuality and confidence.
Fragrances are linked with desired qualities such as “sexiness” or “sensuality,” in order to increase sales. This type of advertising has even convinced consumers that they need to wear a fragrance in order to feel a certain way. This ties into why celebrities have been hired to endorse fragrances.
“We see Euphoria redefining contemporary sexiness for today’s women in an exciting new way,” stated Ms. Singer. “We wanted to create a fragrance that gives women permission to break free and pursue their most intimate dreams and desires.”

Natalie Vodianova, an up-and-coming fashion model, is currently representing many Calvin Klein products—jeans, jewelry, eyeware and fragrances such as Euphoria.

“In addition to her beauty and striking presence, Natalia really helps streamline the brand image of Calvin Klein around the world,” expressed executives. “She transcends the worlds of beauty and fashion, and as the face of Calvin Klein, she will tie our brands together, and fragrance and fashion will be seen in the eyes of the consumer as one and the same.”

Premium women’s fragrances, more than any other type, are driven by the contingencies of fashion and style, with the top 10 brands accounting for 26% of total value sales in 2004, according to Euromonitor. Last year, consumers showed a strong preference for new perfumes, ideally with a celebrity angle.

“Considering the rate at which designer fragrances are being launched, it is a clear indication that there is still a very strong interest in the category,” stated Calvin Klein executives.

Tommy Hilfigers’ True Star master-brand is getting an extension next month with a second scent inspired by R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles. True Star Gold is a floral fragrance with watery top notes of melon, kiwi and red currant. The fragrance also features scents of pumpkin flower, golden pollen, linden blossom, raspberry, milk, honey, sisal, tulip wood and lily.

True Star Men has been created from the collaboration of singer Enrique Iglesias and Tommy Hilfiger Toiletries. The spicy, woody scent contains pink grapefruit, black licorice, orris, saffron, vanilla and sandalwood. Reflecting Mr. Iglesias’ singing career, the bottle was also designed to resemble a microphone.

The limited Fleur D’Orange was created to reflect the harvest of blossom trees in Tunisia.

“Fragrance is an emotional category, so it’s difficult to separate the components that motivate a shopper to buy,” noted Ms. Corlett.

Ms. Corlett explained that while the attraction of star power is very powerful, if a consumer smells the fragrance and the scent is not one she likes, the consumer is probably not going to buy it, even if she is a big fan of the spokesperson.


Stuck in the Middle

Although unisex fragrances may never reach the level of popularity they enjoyed in the early 1990s, new men’s and women’s scents are borrowing notes from one another.

“We continue to see the trend of each category borrowing ingredients from each other as they continue to look for newness,” said Kate Greene, VP of marketing, Givaudan, Vernier, Switzerland. “Men’s fragrances are borrowing florals, but with a masculine twist. Women’s are using woody notes for a new definition of sensuality.”

Sales of premium and mass unisex fragrances experienced declines of 2% and 8%, respectively, in 2004, according to Euromonitor. Though there is some stable demand for these products from women who find the lighter unisex scents useful for office wear, trend-driven usage has largely ceased, according to Euromonitor. In fashion and in fragrances, women have started to embrace a more feminine and sexy style, favoring musky fragrances.

In addition, Euromonitor stated that while the sharp decline in sales of mass unisex products may seem to be dramatic, unisex products constitute a very small niche and tend to have only limited distribution.

Euromonitor expects unisex fragrance sales to continue to decline, with premium and mass fragrances falling in value by 18% and 27%, respectively. The mid-1990s trend of unisex products is over, with gender-specific products regularly preferred over unisex products.

Watch Your Language

Research has found that words affect how scents are perceived. Describing a scent with charming words before presenting it may actually cause the brain to perceive it more positively. Therefore, a pleasant name also has a beneficial effect on the perception of the fragrance, and ultimately, on the sales of that fragrance.

An eau de toilette, Eau Torride by Givenchy is described as an “energizing, sensual fragrance that takes its inspiration from contrasts. Icy and fiery, transparent and colored, pure and sophisticated, it's a blend of flowers, citrus fruits, rich greens and woods.”

Kenneth Cole’s new men’s cologne, Signature, is described as the scent of “accomplishment.” The “fresh, spicy, woody” fragrance is coupled with a “rich metropolitan sophistication unfolding revealing contrasts and extreme sensuality.” The cologne infuses grapefruit, violet, orris root, water lily, cardamom, pimento berries, deep marine notes, warm woods and espresso beans.

“There’s been a return to more  intense, rich, sexy fragrances and ingredients as a reaction to the overdevelopment of white floralcy and floral bouquet in the fine fragrance category, as well as its overexposure in the personal care and household categories,” explained Ms. Greene. “Additionally, the gourmand category continues to grow and we’ll see new twists using new ingredients to indicate comfort. We also continue to see a return to classics fueled in part by niche fragrances’ use of classical structures and the consumer’s thirst for new expressions of luxury. This trend parallels what we are seeing in fashion with a renewed sophistication level in dressing and the continued popularity of all things vintage. A retro, nostalgic view is the big trend and we will see this in fragrance.”

Individuality is a key component of Couduroy, a new fall fragrance from Zirh International Corporation, a subsidiary of Shiseido International Corporation. Characterized as capturing the “self-confidence and sophisticated chic of the man who creates his own destiny and his own personal signature,” the 2.5- and 4.2-fl.oz. eau
de toilette retails for $45 and $58, respectively.

Wake Up and Smell the Cardamom

Not every launch is inspired by the cult of celebrity of fashion. For Spring 2006, Demeter is introducing five new scents: Persimmon, Prickly Pear, Cannabis, Caramel and Macadamia Nut.

“So much of our perfumery is based upon life,” said Christopher Gable, CMO, Demeter Fragrance Library, Great Neck, NY. “We draw an unusual amount of direction and inspiration from both urban life and rural life. What we see on the runway and in the media is how we base our reflection of what people are feeling. It is critical for us to reflect trends in scent, instead of trying to create fantasies. Creating a fantasy story is becoming prohibitively expensive and, with fractured media, almost impossible for even the larger players.”

Demeter’s produces more than 150 fragrances. The company recently added three new scents for the fall, Black Russian, White Russian and Between the Sheets, to complete its Happy Hour Collection. The bottles all have new labels that provide the recipes for the cocktails.

“Our palette of scents is so broad because we use our life as our inspiration,” stated Mr. Gable.

The fall collection includes nine 1-oz. fragrances with the ingredients and mix instructions of the drink name on the label. Along with the three new scents the other six include Mojito, Sex on the Beach, Sex on the Beach South Beach, Gin & Tonic, Fuzzy Navel and Cosmopolitan Cocktail. Hangover not included.

An “extra-high quality” fragrance, L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Fleur d’Oranger, is a limited fragrance with only 2,990 bottles created. The fragrance recreates the atmosphere of Tunisia when Tunisian orange trees blossom.

Demeter’s complete fall line, the Happy Hour Collection, includes tscents such as Black Russian, Mojito and Fuzzy Navel.
“The basis for this fragrance was to create something very close to craftsmanship, close to nature and to the very deep roots of perfumery with raw materials,” expressed Julie Harrison, PR manager, L’Artisan Parfumuer, Paris, France. “The scent is reminiscent of the harvest season in Tunisia, a very intense and festive period. The scent is pure and sensual, fresh and warm. It includes the scent of different parts of the blossom tree, including the flowers as well as the branches and leaves.”


Available in selected cities and department stores, Fleur d’Oranger is numbered and signed by the parfumer, Anne Flipo. The 100 ml. bottle retails for $250.

Mr. Gable comments that the industry has been on a relatively long run of sweet fragrances dominated by food notes and fruity fragrances.

“It appears that next year we will see a movement toward cleaner, fresher scents and more traditional florals,” he said. 

“Competition continues to play a huge factor within the fragrance industry,” said Ms. Ianni. “As a result we will continue to see an increase of alternative channels offering fragrances, not to mention a continuous influx of brands hitting counters each year, ultimately saturating the market as manufacturers and retailers compete. The industry has changed. Improved economic conditions will help the industry, yet to stand out above the rest, out-of-the-box thinking can help generate excitement within the category.”

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