The Future of Fine Fragrance

November 14, 2005

Holiday 2002 fragrance sales were unimpressive. But fragrance marketers are putting that behind them with fresh new ideas for spring.

First, the bad news: fragrance sales were down again, by 8.5% for women’s cologne and perfume and by 2.5% in men’s cologne and lotions (in food, drug and mass merchandisers excluding Wal-Mart for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 25), according to ACNielsen data.

And the prestige segment in U.S. department stores, a larger percentage of fragrance’s total sales, didn’t fare much better; The NPD Group, Port Washington, NY, reported that fragrances in this category declined 3.5%, generating $2.8 billion in sales for 2002.

The good news? Fragrance houses aren’t about to give up. Despite continuing consumer hesitance to spend, fragrance marketers are convinced that springtime will usher in hope, optimism—and ideally, a new confidence in the economy that will get consumers spending on small-scale indulgences once again.

“When we come to a new season (spring), there is always a rash of new fragrance being introduced, and that sparks trial and purchase,” said Rochelle Bloom, president, The Fragrance Foundation, New York, NY.

She added that fragrance is far from on its way out. “Fragrance is a mood enhancer,” Ms. Bloom said. “It makes you feel, ‘It’s part of my being. It’s an extension of myself.’ Fragrance will remain a comparatively small expense for a great feeling. Consumers can get a real lift by buying a wonderful new fragrance.”

Yves Saint Laurent’s Premiéres Roses debuted in a 4.2-oz. natural spray. A 5.-oz. Moisturizing Dew mist complements the fragrance.

Fabulous Florals
So what’s on the horizon for this spring and summer? According to Ms. Bloom, “There’s a whole new direction, a whole new area of fragrances coming out. In the spring, we want to smell like spring. So during the coming months the focus will be on florals, fruity notes and lighter orientals.”

French company Yves Rocher’s Pur Desir botanical-inspired fragrances evoke “the intimate mystery of a flower,” according to company executives. The line first appeared on shelves in Rose, Lilac and Lily fragrances. This year, Lavender and Gardenia were added. Lavender is available in a 2-oz. eau de toilette (EDT) for $16.50, as well as ancillary products such as a shower gel, body lotion, body mist and body shimmer. Gardenia also comes in a 2-oz. EDT, as well as its own shower gel, body lotion, soap body mist and an AP/deo cream.

Woodstock, CT-based Crabtree & Evelyn has relaunched four of its English Florals fragrances for spring 2003—Lily of the Valley, Freesia, Evelyn Rose and Gardenia—and introduces Wisteria. English Florals are positioned as “special occasion fragrances” and are designed to appeal to consumers who are seeking affordable luxuries of absolute quality, company executives said.

In men’s prestige, Ermenegildo Zegna introduced Essenza di Zegna.

To complement the idea that “it’s not indulgence if it feels absolutely necessary,” the fragrances’ packaging consists of soft, dusky colors and a muted vellum finish that impart an antique, refined feel.

An assortment of 10 products, including the EDT perfume traveller, perfumed dusting powder and decorative candle, round out each English Florals fragrance. Price points for these items range from $16-45.

Avon celebrates a traditional spring holiday—Mother’s Day—with Memor-able, a floriental fragrance that is “reminiscent of Mom’s soft sophistication and sweet, gentle ways,” according to a company spokesperson.

Memorable’s top notes are a playful blend of gingerlily, dewy freesia, grape, hyacinth and green mandarin. Middle notes include an alluring blend of tiger lily, pink peony, rose absolute and mane molecular distilled, and base notes are a drydown of ebonywood, walnut tree, sandalwood and velvet musk.

“Fragrances are becoming more distinctive, signature, feminine and opulent,” pointed out Rebecca Metz, director of U.S. fragrance marketing, Avon. “We are playing with new ways of interpreting texture and emotion through the use of innovative ingredients that depart from the traditional structures of the past.”

Ms. Metz added that fragrance packaging—in particular, the use of textures and colors—has become important to a fragrance’s overall presentation. “The packaging is the first thing that attracts the customer to a new product, and therefore the package needs to communicate the brand identity,” she said.

Other upcoming Avon fragrances include Haiku Awakenings and Treselle. Pink Suede, Passion Dance and Naturals Violet have already been released for 2003.

It Takes More than Fame: How Celebrity Scents Succeed
We know the names from virtually every segment of the worlds of fashion and fame: Chanel, Christian Dior, Calavin Klein, Elizabeth Taylor, Donna Karan, even Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez. But being a success in designer wear, for example, is no guarantee that one will also be a success in designer fragrance. So what has put these shining stars on top—and kept them there?

Executives from the House of Taylor, Donna Karan Cosmetics and Slatkin & Co. offered answers at the Fragrance Foundation’s Think Tank No. 5, “Celebrities, show business and the bottom line,” in New York City on March 19.

According to Jane Hertzmark, senior vice president and general manager, Donna Karan Cosmetics, there are three key strategies to the success of Donna Karan: consistency, her personal message to her clientele and the way women are able to connect with her lifestyle.

“Donna has made her life everyone’s business,” Ms. Hertzmark said. “That helps us connect with her on many different levels.” This is communicated in Ms. Karan’s fragrance creations; for instance, her love of New York City is expressed in DKNY, while her penchant for cashmere birthed Cashmere Mist. Ms. Karan’s latest creation, Black Cashmere, offers women “a way to get a piece of Donna’s lifestyle, without having to invest $2000 on a suit,” Ms. Hertzmark said. “The fragrance, a smaller expenditure, allows women to experience that.”

Celebrities have, in some ways, even more of a challenge than designers, according to Tamara Steele, vice president, marketing, House of Taylor. “(Ms. Taylor) is continuously reinventing herself,” Ms. Steele said. Communicating Ms. Taylor’s many facets—including star power, her tireless advocacy for the AIDS cause and her devotion to her children—was a tall order. But the results, including Passion, released in 1987, and White Diamonds, introduced in 1991, are accurate representations of those qualities, according to Ms. Steele. For instance, White Diamonds has been in prestige fragrance’s top 10 every year since its launch: “White Diamonds is a phenomenon,” Ms. Steele said. “It’s probably one of the most successful fragrances ever.”

Celebrity has its down side as well, and designer and celebrity fragrance promotions must be handled with care, asserted Harry Slatkin, president, Slatkin & Co., the firm that created Elton John’s AIDS-benefitting and Princess Diana’s memorial and charity candles: “It’s wonderful to work with celebrities, especially in the case of a goodcause,” Mr. Slatkin said. “But it can be a tricky thing when dealing with celebrities. They can do one (negative) thing, and their name is all over the press. At that point, consumers stop or slow down related purchases. It’s a fine line.”

Always in Season
Regardless of economic conditions or fashion trends, the classics are always in style, and traditional fragrance houses have confidently released new or ancillary products to their well-known lines.

Yves Saint Laurent greets spring 2003 with Premiéres Roses. YSL executives envision the fragrance’s notes as an inverted pyramid, with an “opening,” a “character” and a “structure.”

At the top is the opening, primarily composed of top notes but hinting at heart and base notes, executives said; alba rose buds, orange blossom and violet top off this category. In the middle is the character, a blend of heart and base notes including centifolia rose, lily of the valley and jasmine petals. Finally, the structure, the fragrance’s main accord, includes sandalwood, vetiver and musks. The fragrance is on-counter this spring.

In January, YSL unveiled limited-edition Opium and Kouros travel sprays. Opium retails for $55 for three 0.5-oz. sprays. Kouros offers a “dynamic duo” of two 8-oz. sprays, for $38.

Chanel introduced its No. 5 Indulgence set for Mother’s Day. The collection includes a 1.7-oz. EDT spray, 1.7-oz. Shimmering body lotion, 1.7-oz. Bath gel and Chanel’s logo bag. No. 5 Indulgence is on shelves this month for $57.50.

Shoppers can remember Dad as well with the Allure for Men Grooming set, on shelves for Father’s Day.

Allure’s women’s fragrance is all wrapped up in the Allure Irresistible set, which includes a 1.7-oz. EDT spray, 1.7-oz. bath gel, 1.7-oz. Shimmering body lotion and logo bag. The collection retails for $57.50.

The company also unveiled the Coco Mademoiselle Get Fresh set, with a 1.7-oz. EDP classic bottle spray, 3.4-oz. Fresh body lotion and Chanel bag, for $65. Get Fresh will appear in stores next month.

Oscar de la Renta is stepping into the warmer seasons with a hot new fragrance: Oscar Latin Light. The fragrance is patterned after the Latin atmosphere of Mr. de la Renta’s Santo Domingo home, while lightness connotes the fresh, light feeling of summer, company executives said. Oscar Latin Light is available in a 3.3-oz. EDT spray for $46 and a Hair and Body Oil natural spray for $38.

The Guys Have It
Marketers continue to launch new scents in the men’s fragrance category too. Although sales were disappointing for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 25—down 2.5% for colognes and lotions in food, drug and mass merchandisers (exclud-ing Wal-Mart), according to ACNielsen data—this hasn’t deterred fragrance houses from developing new scents in both mass and prestige for men.

Imagery for men’s fragrance often involves power and a dynamic personality, and this spring’s releases take that concept to new levels. For instance, Coty released Adrenaline under the Adidas brand umbrella. Adrenaline targets men ages 18-32 and is due to hit mass retail and mid-tier shelves this month. The creation of Adrenaline involved the concept of urban sophistication and independence. This conceptual male enjoys sports and competition, but not necessarily as part of a team, according to company executives. “He loves the feeling and rush of raw energy...which we call ‘adrenaline,’” said vice president of marketing Anastasia Ayala. The bottle is a slightly twisted rectangle to evoke the idea of motion, housed in a shiny, steel-colored carton with an energetic-looking band of color.

Michel Germain’s Immaculate: A Fresh Perspective
On March 21, perfumer Michel Germain unveiled his latest creation, Immaculate, said to be “the first all-natural perfume in 120 years.” The new fragrance was introduced at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street, New York.

“What’s so wonderful about naturals is that they take on their own quality on an individual’s skin,” explained Mr. Germain. “Synthetics can stay on well, but they tend to coat the skin, whereas naturals blend with the skin to make the fragrance very personal.”

The inspiration for Immaculate—a natural-perfume oil blend including citrus, rose, jasmine and a feminine character—came one night when Mr. Germain and his wife prepared to go out to dinner. “She did her hair, her dress and her makeup, and when she entered the room, she had a real expression of her personal beauty and perfection,” Mr. Germain recalled. “That’s what captivated me. I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great to create a perfume that expressed the individual perfection in each woman?’”

The supreme embodiment of “perfection” is nature, Mr. Germain said. “There’s nothing that smells more beautiful than flowers growing in a field. That, to me, is perfection.” Immaculate as a concept embodies beauty, perfection and individuality, he said.

The packaging is modeled after one of the rarest diamond cuts in the world. “It is very expensive to create this type of bottle,” Mr. Germain revealed, “but the idea is that when you make an initial investment in something, you can get the rewards again and again. This idea is expressed in Immaculate, which can be purchased in its bottle and then refilled at the counter. The diamond shape fits very nicely into the hand; it ‘belongs’ in the woman’s hand.”

Could all-natural fragrances be a sign of things to come? “On (March) 21st (at the fragrance’s debut), we made history in the fragrance industry,” Mr. Germain said. “I really feel this could be the start of a perfume revolution. So many aspects of our daily lives are turning toward nature and the benefits of naturalness in our products and in the environment.” And now upscale fragrances have entered the natural arena as well: “Now that we’ve shown that you can do it (create an all-natural fragrance) and do it well, I think the customer is going to embrace it, and I think there’s going to be a movement toward this in the future.”

“The recent market introduction of Adidas Adrenaline is an example of how the dream of Adidas, ‘forever sports,’ finds a new interpretation into an urban, active, sexy and masculine fragrance that captures the thrill of the adrenaline movement,” said Ulli Lindauer, senior marketing manager, global fragrance, Coty Beauty U.S.

The fragrance consists of a top note of bergamot, kiwi lime, mandarin, crisp-mountain air, basil, anise, frosted apple and the Adrenaline accord; a middle note of mountain laurel, cypress, cool blue rose, rosewood, apricot nectar, clove, coriander and nutmeg and a bottom note of warm amber, cashmere wood, patchouli, sandalwood, white moss, clean musk and vanilla bean. Adrenaline includes two sizes of EDT, an after-shave balm, a hair and body wash and a deodorant. Price points range from $8-26.50.

But not every guy is into sports. Fragrance houses are appealing to the male consumer’s emotional side in an attempt to bridge the gap between the “traditional” and “Renaissance” male. Yves Rocher’s male FiFi entry for 2003, Eryo, was designed for today’s male “Because he’s true to his emotions,” according to the fragrance’s tagline.

Eryo marries the classic with the modern with its fresh, woody oriental scent (in addition to bergamot, rosemary, peppermint, patchouli, vanilla, benzoin and costus) and the bottle’s chiseled, clean crystal-block lines edged in platinum, topped with an indigo cap.

Michael Kors is trying to boost summer sales with a lighter interpretation of its signature fragrance, which originally launched in 2000. The new scent, Sheer Michael, was created by Mane USA. Top notes are cypress, sweet orange, Italian bergamot, Sicilian mandarin and blue topaz. Middle notes include Bulgarian rose, geranium, Moroccan tuberose, ylang ylang, marigold, jasmine and muguet, while bottom notes consist of Virginia cedar, sandalwood, Baltic amber and sheer musk. Sheer Michael is geared toward 18- to 45-year-old males and is available in specialty doors at $50 for a 1.7-oz. EDP, $40 for a 5.1-oz. body lotion and $35 for Sheer Highlights for face and body.

Essenza di Zegna, from Ermenegildo Zegna, also combines the modern with the traditional. The fragrance is fresh, spicy and woody and includes vetiver and bergamot.
The display of the fragrance evokes “utter sophistication,” according to company representatives, and is “a work of art in brushed metal and transparent glass.” The combination of visual and fragrance lend an all-over appeal, Zegna executives said.

Budding Buyers
Another category of fine fragrance that has plenty of room for growth is the teen and young-20s segment.

In fact, five out of the top 10 launches of 2002 in department stores were positioned for the under-30 customer, according to data from NPD BeautyTrends, Port Washington, NY. In years past, the younger set lacked the financial resources to explore trendier or more upscale fragrances. And the shopping environment is typically wrong for a teen, according to industry sources. The current push in Generation Y is toward stores made “just for them,” so they tend to shy away from department store settings.

As a result, fragrances are often positioned along with existing store lines—for instance, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch and Tommy Hilfiger. And alternately, department stores are attempting to section off youth-oriented areas, making them more tempting to teens and twenty-somethings.

French “cheap chic” fashion brand Morgan is reaching out to the 15-to 25 category with Morgan de Toi. The women’s version is housed in a red-tinted, curvy bottle created to mimic the curves of a woman’s body, and is complete with belly-button ring. The men’s fragrance has straighter lines, but compliments the women’s in design.

The women’s juice, which is a floral amber, was created by Christine Nagel of Quest. Firmenich perfumers Annick Menardo and Gerard Anthony created the men’s spicy-woody fragrance.

The Morgan woman is “a rebel, a rule-breaker; she wants to be different, but wants to remain flirtatious,” said Delphine Nathan, product manager, Confinluxe, Morgan’s beauty-license holder. The scents roll out this month in Europe and will be introduced into the U.S. and the UK in the second half of 2003.

Encompassing a slightly older age range is Jean Patou Paris; the fragrance house geared its newest creation, Enjoy, to the 25-35 year old set. Courting a younger clientele represents a departure for Jean Patou, according to Procter & Gamble Prestige Beauté, owner of the fragrance house’s trademarks and licenses.

Enjoy—a partial spinoff of Joy—is a musky, fruity floral with an amethyst coloring. Top notes include cassis, green banana, pear, bergamot, orange and mandarin. The heart contains Bulgarian rose, Turkish rose, jasmine from India and hedione. The fragrance’s base notes combine patchouli, amber, vanilla and musk. Besides its youthful scent and streamlined packaging, Enjoy holds another lure for younger buyers: it costs half the price of Joy. Enjoy debuted in France in March; it appears in the U.S. exclusively in 61 Saks Fifth Avenue doors this month.

Puig Prestige Beauty Brands, Paris, debuts Carolina in Europe and Latin America this month; the fragrance will appear on U.S. shelves in September. The fragrance targets women ages 18-35, a younger range than the demographic for the company’s classic Carolina Herrera scents.

Puig is covering all the bases in 2003; in addition to the new scent, 212 limited-edition summer scents—the 212 H20 line—make their appearance this month, while a limited-edition Chic perfume arrive in March to catch Mother’s Day gift-seekers.

Celebrity Scents
Celebrities are giving some of this year’s releases a star-studded boost, while other scents are creations of the stars themselves.

Parfums Givenchy recruited actor Liv Tyler to be the next “muse” for the company and the inspiration for its new woman’s fragrance, due out in September. Other muses for the company have included Audrey Hepburn and France’s Lou Doillon. A Givenchy spokesperson said Ms. Tyler displays “spontaneity and modern charm,” qualities that are “very Givenchy.”

The ad campaign for Yves Saint Laurent Parfums’ Nu EDT will sport a new face: French actress Emmanuelle Seigner.

“The choice of Emmanuelle Seigner was very clear to me from the start,” said Tom Ford, creative director, Gucci Group NV. “When I met her, she just embodied the spirit of Yves Saint Laurent...She’s got a very strong sense of herself and her style.”

Nu EDT, a lighter fragrance than the original Nu, debuts April 15 globally. The EDT is a more flowery and fresher version than the EDP, according to Jacques Cavallier, Firmenich, who created the juice. It retails for $78 for a 3.3-oz. spray and $55 for a 1.6-oz. spray.

Lacoste shows its feminine side with Lacoset Pour Femme, which appears in stores this month. The floral, woody, musky scent was created by Firmenich’s Oliver Cresp. Top notes contain accords of Jamaican pepper and purple freesia. Heart notes include jasmine, hibiscus and Bulgarian rose and base notes are cedarwood, sandalwood and incense.

A slim, upright rectangular bottle differentiates Pour Femme from Pour Homme (released last October), but Pour Femme includes Lacoste’s crocodile symbol, and a cap textured to bring to mind a Lacoste 1212 polo shirt’s piqué. Advertising for the Pour Femme and Pour Homme versions share the tagline “style on skin,” but Femme features model Catherine Hurley—also the model for Lacoste women’s clothing—in both still advertising and a 20-second TV clip to be run in France starting this month.

Lacoste Pour Femme is carried in 700-800 U.S. locations. It retails in a 30-oz. EDP spray for $60, a 1.6-oz. version for $48, a 5-oz. body cream for $32 and a 5-oz. shower gel for $20, as well as ancillary products.

Celine Dion, a new fragrance from the internationally-acclaimed songstress, was introduced by Coty Beauty as an entry-level, prestige-priced fragrance to be launched in such stores as Sears, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s. Prices are $20 for 0.5-oz. or $32 for 1.7-oz. for the fragrance; $44 for a 3.4-oz. spray and a 6.7-oz. body lotion or shower gel for $12.50.

Celine Dion fragrance reflects a lifestyle, according to Coty executives. The theme has already been successfully tested by the company in such fragrances as Jennifer Lopez’s J Lo and the new Davidoff Echo.

Cielo (which means “heavenly” in Italian) had a celebrity tie-in too—the Flora Napa Valley fragrance was chosen by the Screen Actor’s Guild to be featured in the gift baskets awarded to presenters at the Guild’s 9th annual awards ceremony on March 9.

The juice is a sparkling blend of sweet Daphne, grape leaf and honeysuckle. According to Flora executives, the fragrance is a favorite of Sharon Stone, Jewel, Pamela Anderson and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Inspired by Nature
Aromatherapy once involved the pungent scents of highly-concentrated oils; today, marketers are bringing the concept of aromatherapy into the fine fragrance arena for daily wear.

Your Perfect Day Wedding fragrances are one of perfume designer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s newest creations. The scents were designed to create a positive ambiance on both the bride’s and groom’s big day, according to company executives.

NuSkin, Provo, UT, developed its Aroma Science line to appeal to all personality types; in fact, the company even offers a personality questionnaire to help guide one’s choice of fragrance. The scents—Earth, Air, Fire and Water—correspond to the corresponding signs of the Zodiac, all of which fall into one of the four categories.

The blends combine the benefits of aromatherapy with a lighter touch that is pleasing, not invasive, according to Elizabeth Thibaudeau, vice president, marketing, NuSkin. “It’s all about variety,” Ms. Thibaudeau said. “Our fragrances aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach. They’re more of a tailored approach.”

Though NuSkin is not a fragrance company—its focus is primarily on skin care—the company felt there was a tie-in between the two. “If you exfoliate and moisturize before applying a fragrance, the fragrance can last longer,” Ms. Thibaudeau pointed out. “So we’ll be pairing some products together to educate consumers on how to properly use fragrance on the skin.”

According to Ms. Thibaudeau, individuality is the future of personal fragrance. “People are finding themselves now,” she said. “They’re becoming very comfortable with who they are, and they want to present this to the world. We feel we have found a really unique place between fine fragrance and aromatherapy with Aroma Sign. We’ve brought the two together.”

Other opinions vary as to what fragrance’s future will hold. “Based on our trend scouting activities, we believe that in the short term, products will either be highly entertaining or recall a quieter time,” said Ms. Lindauer of Coty Beauty U.S. Beyond this time frame, we expect a significant surge in technology orientation, both on the aesthetic and technical front.”

Ms. Friedman of Avon agreed, “We are constantly moving toward contemporizing elements from the past to create a vision of the future.”

Whatever direction fine fragrance takes, it will remain present as a signature of whom the consumer wishes to be and what she wants to feel, marketers insist. With many choices and many ancillary products, there is still room for fine fragrance to grow.