Fine Fragrance Trends

March 30, 2007

Celebrity scent sales stall as fashion house partnerships and niche, personalized fragrances are poised to take off.

Betsey Johnson's fragrance takes a vintage-inspired cue for the design of the bottle.
Fine Fragrance Trends

Celebrity scent sales stall as fashion house partnerships and niche, personalized fragrances are poised to take off.

Lindsay Elkins
Associate Editor

What’s in a name? Apparently for fragrance buyers, a lot. While not enjoying quite the success of years passed, celebrity scents are still big business in the U.S., however it’s partnerships with fashion houses and unique, niche fragrances that are really on the rise, according to industry observers. New launches such as Tom Ford’s library of scents and Chanel’s collection of 10 new and restored perfumes, caused celebrity scent sales to dip. In fact, last year Lovely Sarah Jessica Parker was the only celebrity fragrance listed in the top 25 women’s prestige fragrances compared to the three that made the list prior to that, which included Lovely and Britney Spears’ scent Curious and Fantasy, according to NPD Group. Even with the expected celebrity scent slow-down, fragrance sales as a whole are on the up and up, with global fragrance sales expected to grow 16% between 2005 and 2010 to reach U.S. $31.9 billion, according to Euromonitor International.

“People are becoming tired of mass market and are looking for something more personal. The trend is to go more natural with something authentic,” said Emmanuelle Brard, Retail Manager for L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Designer Fragrance

Designer Vera Wang has been dressing A-listers for years and is following up the success of Vera Wang Princess with Truly Pink, a lush floral available in a 3.7- and 1.7oz. eau de parfum spray, 5oz. truly soft body lotion and 6oz. body crème.

“For me, Truly Pink is the embodiment of pure femininity––enchanting and always in bloom,” commented Vera Wang.

Marc Jacobs recently launched his 2007 summer collection of Splash scents, which are light enough to splash all over post bath or shower. The new additions to the Splash series include Cucumber, which soothes and gently scents skin and Orange, a light refreshing scent with fresh citrus. Also, due to overwhelming popularity last summer, Marc Jacobs brought back Rain to round out the collection. Each comes in a large, 10oz. glass bottle with a separate spray pump so the scent can be poured or sprayed.

Each fragrance in Matthew Williamson's The Collection contains notes from his original fragrance.
Former runway model turned designer Kimora Lee Simmons turned out her second fragrance––Baby Phat Golden Goddess––in September in an effort to give her customers a little bit of decadence that’s in line with Ms. Simmons’ glam lifestyle. A floral gourmand with notes including champagne, blue lilies and caramel housed in a glass bottle complete with a removable faux canary-yellow diamond ring––among the rarest gemstones––allows every woman to afford a little bling.

“Baby Phat Golden Goddess is outright glam and sexy,” said Ms. Simmons. “It’s a sensuous, decadent fragrance that will make any woman feel like a goddess and aspire them to live a life of fabulosity.”

A 1.7- and 3.4oz. eau de parfum spray with a 6.7oz. Shimmering Body lotion comprise the Golden Goddess collection.

Season after season designer Jil Sander creates pared-down, timeless fashion that is ready to wear. Her new fragrance, Jil Sander Style, which launched in January, aims to evoke an understated luxury that represents the Jil Sander woman. Symrise’s Bernard Ellena is behind the woody floral fragrance, which he says isn’t overpowered by one flower, but is a rich balance of scents that blend together.

“I wanted to create a fluid, rounded fragrance, like a caress,” he explained. “The alchemy gave form to an eminently feminine and sensual fragrance.”

The Jil Sander Style collection is available in 75-, 50- and 30ml. sizes with additional products including Moisturizing Body cream, Moisturizing Body milk and Shower cream.

In a move to branch out beyond footwear and leather goods, Jimmy Choo will introduce his first fragrance in 2008. The fragrance is still in the very early workings, and according to Robert Bensoussan, chief executive officer of Jimmy Choo, the biggest challenge is building the product line successfully to ensure that it fits into the Jimmy Choo market. He added that Jimmy Choo is still in talks with both large and small fragrance companies.

Tommy Bahama launched a new lifestyle island fragrance this month, Set Sail St. Barts, which is the first of two limited edition fragrances. A men’s cologne spray and soap on a rope and a women’s eau de parfum and perfumed shimmering body lotion are available. Notes include sparkling lime, and white sand musk. Richard Herpin of Firemenich developed the men’s and women’s fragrances and Dale Kan of Brandonology created the nautical-inspired packaging.

Building a Wardrobe

Fashion houses not only introduce new fragrances, but mini fragrance wardrobes and collections as well, to expand their line and allow consumers to change their fragrance from day-to-day, depending on their mood. London designer Matthew Williamson launched The Collection in February, a set of four fragrances, each containing notes found in his original fragrance debut. The eau de toilettes were specifically developed to be worn alone or blended together to create a signature scent.

“It was a great opportunity to look at the strengths of the first fragrance,” said Mr. Williamson. “You can mix and build your own thing––you can experiment.”

Each of the fragrances in The Collection were inspired by exotic locations, which served as a muse for the designer’s 2007 spring runway collection.

“Travel and nature are two areas that have always inspired my work, so that was a starting point,” he said. “We pinpointed four places in the world where one would ideally wear the scents.”

Lotus is said to be reminiscent of a summer evening in Bali with notes of cassis and bergamot, Warm Sand channels Morocco with ginger lily and sandalwood, Jasmine Sambac conjures images of Ibiza, and Incense, with notes of patchouli and frankincense, evokes the mountains of western India. The scents rolled out internationally in March and retail for $69 for a 50ml. spray.

In February, Chanel released Les Exclusifs, a collection of 10 new and restored perfumes to honor legendary designer Coco Chanel. True to the collection’s name, no marketing or ads are planned and the perfumes will only be sold in Chanel boutiques and Bergdorf Goodman. A 200ml. eau de toilette spray retails for $175. Chanel perfumer Jacques Polge restored four Chanel fragrances from the 1920s and created six new complementary fragrances.

According to NPD’s Ms. Grant, with the introduction of Les Exclusifs, Chanel has moved the perfumer back into the spotlight and pushed celebrities offstage. “It’s establishing the perfumer, making a statement,” she said.

Givenchy's Ange or Démon plays on the concept of duality to capture the multiple sides of a woman's personality.
One-time Gucci designer Tom Ford followed up his November launch of Black Orchid, with The Private Blend collection of 12 distinct fragrances that will be sold in only five U.S. doors including the Tom Ford retail store, opening in New York City this month, Bergdorf Goodman and select Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue locations beginning in May. The 12 scents include Amber Absolute, Noir de Noir, Velvet Gardenia, Black Violet, Tobacco Vanille, Oud Wood, Purple Patchouli, Bois Rouge, Moss Breches, Tuscan Leather, Neroli Portofino and Japan Noir. A 1.7oz. eau de parfum spray retails for $165 and an 8.3oz. eau de parfum decanter for $450.

“These are fragrances for fragrance connoisseurs,” said Mr. Ford, who adds that all 12 are unisex. “I don’t think we’re going to see too many guys worrying about wearing a women’s scent. We have something for everyone in this collection.”

The Tom Ford brand has many projects currently in the works, with a men’s fragrance set to launch in the fall and a Private Blend Home Collection scheduled for 2008.

Carving a Niche

Euromonitor analysts predict somewhat of a celebrity scent backlash in the not-so-distant future. In the U.S., where celebrity scents have previously driven sales growth, mass fragrance sales are expected to decline by 25% by 2010 as the celebrity trend weakens. The problem, according to senior industry analyst Dina Dodson, is that the large number of products in the celebrity scent arena will leave the market oversaturated. For example, the J. Lo Glow fragrance franchise has added six new scents since the initial fragrance, Glow, launched in 2002.

“With so many new releases, manufacturers are running the risk that consumers will become increasingly confused and frustrated by the never-ending choice,” explained Ms. Dodson.

The future of fragrance depends on quality, not just an image. “The fragrance market has strong potential for growth if manufacturers can find ways to pull customers toward quality, rather than selling on image alone,” noted Ms. Dodson.

Bond No. 9’s mission is to restore the artistry in perfumery and to mark every New York neighborhood with a scent all its own. The March introduction of Bryant Park, the company’s 28th and most fashion-oriented fragrance aims to capture the spirit of A-list designers, world-class models and racks upon racks of clothes––everything that makes Bryant Park, well, Bryant Park.

“There was so much noise last year on how fashion week was going to be leaving the Bryant Park location and I wanted to create a souvenir of fashion week,” explained Bond No. 9’s president and founder, Laurice Rahmé. “The scent is very feminine, very bold and is a salute to fashion in New York.”

Bond No. 9 foregoes the celebrity route––although the bottle does channel famed designer Emilio Pucci––to appeal to the young fashionista who isn’t shy and seeks adventure, according to Ms. Rahmé. The fragrance is a rose-patchouli concoction with pink pepper and the bottle, with swirls of pink, lavender and black on a white background, recalls the pre-Mod textiles of the late 50s and early 60s.

Cuerlain charts its own fragrance path with launches such as Insolence.
Ms. Rahmé predicts the trends in fragrance are to formulate with gourmand notes, particularly citrus mixed with flowers. She also sees the celebrity craze fading. “In the 80s we had a celebrity movement, but it’s never timeless,” said Ms. Rahmé. “With the internet age consumers are very informed and are searching for true perfumer’s perfumes. They don’t need to be told that so and so uses it, they recognize if they like it or not––it’s a movement toward a more independent consumer.”

It is this consumer interest in returning to perfume as something special that is the driving force behind several new niche launches at high-end stores such as Henri Bendel and Fred Segal.

“The resurgence of perfume is a backlash against commoditization of fragrance,” commented Robin Coe-Hutshing, owner and creative director of Studio at Fred Segal, Santa Monica, CA.

In November, the store opened a store-within-a-store, Memoire Liquide, which houses 160 scents that can be worn alone or mixed together to create a signature fragrance. The scents are contained in 12oz. dispensing bottles and in the front of the store is a counter that displays the scents in glass vials, each with a stirring rod that customers can use to blend the samples.

“It attracts the fragrance fanatic and allows her to create a mini fragrance wardrobe for herself,” said Ms. Coe-Hutshing.

Henri Bendel has plans to introduce the Memoire Liquide concept to its women’s boutique this month. “Suddenly there’s a strong interest in heritage fragrance houses,” noted Claudia Luca, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of beauty for Henri Bendel. “Consumers are yearning for something that feels real. They are interested in ingredients and they want the whole story behind the scent.”

Although fairly new in the U.S., L’Artisan Parfumeur has been using its perfume to express a point of difference and propose an individual approach to fragrance for those looking for a signature scent, despite trends, since 1976. The company launches two new scents each year, one of which is a summer fragrance. The latest edition, Mandarine Tout Simplement, includes three essences of mandarin from Calabria for a fruity and exotic fragrance. “We always come up with something fresh and summery every year,” explained Emmanuelle Brard, retail manager, L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Other launches include Dzongkha, a woody floral inspired by Bhutan, a spiritual place that only allows 1000 tourists a year. The scent came to fruition after a perfumer spent two weeks there and Fleur de Narcisse, which uses one of the most expensive flowers to extract. “Out of that field we produced 3,000 bottles for the entire world,” noted Ms. Brard. “All bottles are numbered and once it’s over, it’s over. It’s a new approach to perfume to get a notion of a rare harvest.”

Guerlain has been in business for 178 years and its perfumers have seen many trends come and go, which is why the company chooses not to follow in anyone’s footsteps and formulates a broad spectrum of fragrances––from soft to bold––so there is something for everyone. The company launched Insolence in September to appeal to the free-spirited consumer. Violet is at the heart of the fragrance supported by red berries. The bottle, created by sculptor Serge Mansu, is composed of three half spheres that spiral up with the Guerlain signature at the top of the bottle. A 1.7oz. eau de toilette retails for $61, a 3.4oz. retails for $89 and a .3oz perfume retails for $115.

Givenchy recently launched Ange or Démon, which plays on the concept of duality to capture the multiple sides of a woman’s personality. The fragrance is an oriental floral in a bottle designed to resemble a crystal hanging from a chandelier. A 50ml. size retails for $65 and a 100ml. size retails for $90. Givenchy also launched a summer scent last month, Very Irrésistible Givenchy Summer Sun, meant to evoke warm, sunny days and sultry nights with a blend of lychee and rose essence. A 75ml. size retails for $50.

Spanning the Ages

As younger consumers become more sophisticated in their taste in personal care and gain more purchasing power, marketers are realizing that tapping into the 18-24 segment can be lucrative. According to NPD’s Women’s FragranceTrack 2006, 18-24 year old females are the heaviest fragrance users, however less than 60% of this group have actually purchased a fragrance in the past year.

“There is a huge opportunity to grow the 18-24 year old female segment,” said Ms. Grant. “The good news is these young women are thirsting for fragrances and using them more frequently than any other group. The disconnect is how many of them are actually opening their wallets and buying a scent. More of them are using, but compared to all other age groups, less of them are buying––that is an opportunity retailers and manufacturers need to seriously watch and address today, not tomorrow.”
Several launches within the past year have attempted to appeal to the coveted younger segment. Quirky clothing designer Betsey Johnson launched the Betsey Johnson fragrance last fall, a fruity floriental housed in a unique, vintage-inspired bottle. Although according to Ms. Johnson, the scent is for anyone who falls in love with it, a younger demographic does come into play. “I guess it’s targeted more at my younger customer, teen up onto the hip hop girl in her mid-30s.”

A 50ml. spray retails for $55, a 100ml. spray retails for $75 and a perfumed bath and shower gel and body lotion each retails for $28.

Ralph Lauren, a brand that exudes classic, all-American appeal, is reaching out to the younger consumer with the introduction of Ralph Lauren Rocks, an upbeat citrusy scent. There’s even an interactive website, ralphrocks.com where consumers can learn more about the fragrance and download obscure songs from up-and-coming bands, wallpaper for computers, instant messenger buddy icons and MySpace layouts. A 1.7oz. eau de toilette retails for $45 and a 3.4oz. for $59.50. Shower gel and body wash are scheduled to join the fragrance in June.

L’Oréal-owned beauty brand Parfums Cacharel recently signed model Gisele Bundchen as the spokesmodel for its new fragrance, Liberté, which is targeting the 20-something market. According to Cacharel, Bundchen represents the scent perfectly, because of her bohemian chic style, authenticity and independence. She also happens to be a 20-something so she fits right in with the demographic.

“The theme of freedom is very inspirational, very important to the brand,” said Sandrine Jolly, international brand development manager of Parfums Cacharel. Liberté is scheduled for release in the U.S. during the second half of the year.

Down, But Not Out

Sales of celebrity scents fell 17% to $140 million last year, according to NPD. However Ms. Grant noted that with a crop of new launches and celebrities to tap, consumers are still buying into the hype of star-branded scents.

After the box officer success of Dreamgirls and an Academy Award to her credit, Jennifer Hudson can now add fragrance spokesperson to her résumé. The singer/actress signed a multi-year deal with Avon to be the face of Imari and Imari Seduction, a new scent that debuts in August. “We see this as the next evolution of the Imari brand,” said Lily DeStefano, Avon’s executive director of marketing for U.S. fragrances. “We’re modernizing the brand and giving new life to what is already a classic.”

Yankees' shortstop Derek Jeter is promoting his Driven fragrance for Avon.
Avon has also had great success with Driven, a men’s fragrance represented by New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, which added $10 million to fourth quarter sales according to Avon. The rollout of the fragrance was supported by a national print advertising campaign and an outdoor campaign in the New York City area. Jeter also appeared in the company’s brochure and men’s catalog, which is distributed to 11 million customers.

Coty continued the Jennifer Lopez franchise with the introduction of Glow After Dark By JLo, which according to Charlotta Perlangeli, vice president of global marketing for Coty Prestige, introduces a darker, sexier side to the Glow By JLo portfolio. The sixth JLo fragrance was created with Gabriela Chelariu of Fragrance Resources with notes of jasmine and white cherry.

The wildly popular Lovely Sarah Jessica Parker is now available in a Summer Mist Hydrating body spray, which launched in March for $35 for a 200ml. spray. The light spritz is perfect for the summer months and not only leaves behind the Lovely scent, but relieves dry skin by providing all-day hydration via a cocktail of humectants, that morph into a non-greasy water to quench parched skin.

Davidoff signed volleyball player Gabrielle Reece as the spokesperson for its new Cool Water Wave women’s fragrance with notes of watermelon and pink peppercorn.

“We decided to leverage the success of the relaunch of Cool Water by creating a new woman’s scent,” explained Dennis Keogh, senior vice president, U.S. marketing, Coty Prestige. “Wave maintains the brand’s core values and it is free-spirited, assertive and self-confident.”

Although their days appear to be numbered, celebrity scents are still a part of the fragrance scene, however in order to have staying power, marketers should look into formulating personalized scents, and try to appeal to the lucrative young segment.
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