A Touch of Luxury

October 31, 2007

Fashion and lifestyle trends permeate the fine fragrance realm.

 Gucci's signature scent for Fall 2007.
A Touch of Luxury

Fashion and lifestyle trends permeate the fine fragrance realm.

Melissa Meisel
Associate Editor

It’s a sparkling floral that opens with orange bigarade, crisp Italian basil and bergamot. The Mediterranean notes fuse with a breezy and natural island cypress.  A floral heart unfolds with rose petals, velvety violet de Parma and rich dark fig.  A feathery accord recalls the aura of crashing waves with a textural Italian jasmine blossom.

This is fashion designer Michael Kors’ latest perfume, Island Capri, and just one of many new scent experiences available in today’s fine fragrance market.

According to Chicago-based market research firm Mintel,
the women's fragrances market remains dominated by premium, often designer brands, aimed at women looking for a luxury scent. But are there too many choices available?

"Fragrance makers find the current sales environment to be difficult because there are too many new product launches,” notes Senior Research Analyst Virginia Lee of Euromonitor International. “With an explosion in product launches, companies must support them with bigger and bigger advertising budgets in order to try to stand out from the competition.”

Mintel concurs that the scenario of a woman looking for one signature scent is far from the norm. While 20% of adult female fragrance wearers say they have one scent that they use, 51% have three or more in the rotation.

Market Value Declines

Sales of U.S. women’s fragrances totalled $4.2 billion in 2006—a decline of 13% from 2001 when adjusted for inflation, according to a Mintel report titled “Women’s Fragrances in the U.S.” Despite the decline, Mintel predicts sales will reach $4.7 billion, a 12% gain over 2006 results. As one would expect, new product launches will support the market.

According to Mintel’s report, “Men’s Fragrances in the U.S.,” the $1.7 billion men’s fragrance market in the U.S. has shown steady, if slow, growth since 2001, as men are increasing their use of personal care products. Recent sales increases can be attributed to younger consumers experimenting with fragrances for the first time, notes Mintel.

Many of these first-time fragrance users are attracted to newer trends and celebrity-driven scents. This market is expected to sustain continued growth as classic designers, like Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani, launch new products and more celebrities launch their own fragrances. When it comes to teenagers, Mintel reports that celebrities are more popular, with 27% of American girls who wear fragrances saying that they use a “celebrity” fragrance, as opposed to only 4% of adult women.

The men’s market echoes the women’s market in celebrity scents. Celebrity and celebrity-endorsed brands represented 23% of the top 100 women’s fragrances in 2005, up from only 10% in 2003, according to Mintel.

Famous Fragrances

Celebrity fragrances are now an established segment of the fine fragrance market, as more and more Hollywood types, musicians and even athletes are finding a fragrant way to satisfy their fan base’s retail needs. According to the NPD Group in its 10-year beauty report, in 1997, celebrity fragrances represented approximately 2% of the total prestige fragrance market; today, they represent 7% of the market. Mintel attributes the trend of celebrity endorsements/signature fragrances following the success of Glow by JLo, which took the world by storm in 2002, registering $40 million in sales in its first four months.

 Sean Combs created a female followup to his popular Unforgivable.
One of the more lauded launches for Fall 2007 was the female incarnation of the Fragrance Foundation FiFi winner, Unforgivable by Sean John. Unforgivable Woman hit department and specialty stores in North America and UK in September. Determined to create a signature scent for the passionate woman, Unforgivable Woman combines notes and accords that realize music mogul Sean Combs’ vision of  modern femininity.

“I didn’t want to take the easy way out as far as just making a feminine version of the men’s fragrance. Women and men are totally different. I like a woman to smell like a woman…so we took a different direction than with the men’s. There is a synergy note, bergamot, but it is used in such a light way, you don’t really relate to it being in there,” said Mr. Combs in a statement to the press.

Seeing a market for fragrance, chart-topping R&B artist Usher Raymond (known by his first name in the industry) rolled out two new scents for Fall 2007—Usher for Men and Usher for Women.

“Usher was a true partner in creating these fragrances,” said Art Spiro, president of Liz Claiborne Cosmetics. “He has been involved every step of the way, and you’ll see his personal touch reflected throughout the brand.”

Both the men’s and women’s fragrance caps were inspired by a ring of Usher’s that was created by his personal jeweler.  Both the cap and the ring have a unique spinning feature.  The sides of the cap spin while the top and bottom stay stationary.  The top of the cap includes a phrase that has special meaning to Usher—“It’s not how famous UR, it’s what UR famous for.” 

International pop star Madonna was rumored at press time to be finally rolling out a fragrance of her own with a recent merchandising deal with Live Nation. Songstress Mariah Carey is taking a foray into the fragrance game as well with M by Mariah Carey. Crafted by Elizabeth Arden, the company is looking to boost business with the new scent.  E. Scott Beattie, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Elizabeth Arden, Inc., commented about the fragrance, “Mariah is the best-selling female recording artist of all time and appeals to a broad global demographic.”

Another anticipated celebrity launch for Fall 2007 is Covet by Sarah Jessica Parker. Well-timed with the buzz of a “Sex and the City” movie currently being filmed in Manhattan, Covet is described as a “classic, feminine fougere.” The advertising campaign—much like the Carrie Bradshaw character—is humorous and features Ms. Parker behind bars in perfume prison for committing “grand theft fragrance.”

 Saks Fifth Avenue collaborated with Bond No. 9 for a scent.
Celebrities can also lend a hand to marketing fragrances not necessarily their own. Actress Keira Knightley starred in the Chanel promotional short film “Coco Mademoiselle’ to market the signature scent. Ms. Knightley played the role of a modern-day Coco Chanel—a mysterious and independent woman who takes destiny into her own hands and, without saying, should be wearing Coco Mademoiselle perfume. A national cable television flight of 30- and 60-second spots debuted in September and October.

Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson also was recently signed by Avon as the face of the newest addition to the best-selling Imari fragrance portfolio, Imari Seduction. A twist on the classic original fragrance, Imari Seduction is said to be a new celebration of confidence and femininity and a testament to the seductive power that women such as Ms. Hudson possess.

 “We were looking for someone who personifies the spirit of Imari Seduction and Jennifer really was our dream girl,” said Claudia Poccia, president of Avon U.S. Beauty. “Her story is inspiring for so many women around the world and we are honored to have her represent this classic brand.”

Passion for Fashion

Marketers are also drawing on fashion designers to capture their signature style in a fine fragrance. For example, Coty Inc. and Karl Lagerfeld recently entered into a licensing alliance to market the Lagerfeld line of signature fragrances. This is the first time Coty and Lagerfeld will work side-by-side to create a fragrance line.

“Karl Lagerfeld is one of the, if not the, most influential fashion icon, idol and trendsetter of the 20th Century, and no doubt his legacy will be idolized by generations to come. His magnetic personality, powerful charisma and undeniably prestigious styles are coveted by celebrities, designer, and consumers worldwide,” said Bernd Beetz, chief executive officer, Coty Inc. “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work together to market the signature line of Lagerfeld fragrances.”

In 2005, Coty began distributing the Karl Lagerfeld fragrance line for Unilever, the former licensee for Lagerfeld. Coty plans to continue the distribution of existing Lagerfeld fragrances. Gucci by Gucci—the latest fragrance release from the famed Italian fashion house—bears the company’s moniker. According to a statement from Gucci, the scent represents more than 85 years of tradition. The chocolate-hued bottle also features the signature of the house’s founding father, Guccio Gucci. Saks Fifth Avenue and Bond No. 9 jointly announced the debut of Saks Fifth Avenue for Her, along with its partner scent, Saks Fifth Avenue for Him. According to the companies, this is the first time a specialty store has ever commissioned a perfumery to design scents, marking the start of a bold new direction in upscale retailing and a new genre in luxury fragrances. The Saks Fifth Avenue scents are sold in Saks Fifth Avenue stores nationwide and at Bond No. 9’s four New York stores.

Avon has an exclusive of its own with Christian Lacroix Rouge, the French couture fashion designer’s first fragrance. According to Avon, Christian Lacroix Rouge is a vivid fragrance interpretation of Mr. Lacroix’s original haute design sensibility. With this striking new fragrance he has successfully captured the mystique long coveted by international A-list celebrities, including award-winning actresses and singers.

“With this exclusive collaboration and the debut of Christian Lacroix Rouge, we have the extraordinary opportunity to bring women aspirational style at an accessible price point,” said Ms. Poccia of Avon. “Christian Lacroix is a proven style authority and we are thrilled to bring his style and artistic spirit to our customers.” Christian Lacroix Rouge will be available in the U.S. beginning this month through over 650,000 Avon representatives nationwide.

Jet-Setting Scents

Every gal on the go should be armed with a fine fragrance, according to today’s marketers. For evening soirees, luxury accessory company Leiber is rolling out a mini crystallized miniaudiere clad with a solid perfume. Calvin Klein Euphoria’s limited edition Crystalline collection also features a portable sparkling solid perfume compact decorated with Swarovski crystals available at fine department and specialty stores for a limited time beginning November 2007.

 Tommy Bahama's Signature for Men.
For Holiday 2007, Clinique is adding another SKU to the over 45 million pieces of Clinique Happy products that have been sold worldwide (which if laid end-to-end would circle 2/3 of the Earth, by the way). Clinique Happy Travels is an on-the-go 15 ml perfume spray that is packaged in a cell phone case with a charm spelling H-A-P-P-Y.

And for the world traveler, Lisa Hoffman (wife of actor Dustin) teamed up with Givaudan to create Lisa Hoffman Variations, the first around-the-clock fragrance collection made up of four vials for morning, mid-afternoon, evening and bedtime. The collection itself consists of three core fragrances, which are broken down into four scent “variations” so the user has one version to wear in the morning, one during the daytime, one in the evening and one at bedtime.

Classic Returns

A handful of marketers this year are bringing back classic fine fragrances in honor of their significance in perfume history. For example, for the past 50 years, Givenchy fragrances have reflected an era in style. Born out of the encounter between Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn, which led to the first fragrance, L’ Interdit, in 1957, for half a century Parfums Givenchy has been offering the world a collection of fine fragrances. For 2007, Parfums Givenchy celebrates its 50-year anniversary with a relaunch of its classic fragrances at select Nordstroms stores—for women: Eau de Givenchy, Givenchy III, L’Interdit 100 and Le De; as well as Monsieur, Eau de Vetyver and Xeryus for men.

Another vintage revival this season is Pucci’s Vivara. In 1966, Vivara was embodied in a print and soon became a perfume. When it was launched it was called the first beach fragrance because of the beachwear designed by Emilio Pucci and because of its sea and sun notes. Today the perfume has been reinvented in honor of the fashion house’s 60th anniversary. Vivara was reinterpreted by François Demachy, senior vice president, olfactory development for perfumes, LVMH in close collaboration with perfumers Natalie Gracia-Cetto and Marie-Aude Bluche. Designed with bright colors and wild prints, the design and packaging is eye-catching in true Pucci style.

And reaching a little further back in time, a circa-1749 fragrance collection is making a comeback. John Potter and William Moore founded the business of Potter and Moore in 1749. They were known at the time as “physic gardeners” and their operations included the cultivation of herbs and flowers.

Potter and Moore have been creating authentic English fragrances using the finest selection of natural ingredients and essential oils for hundred of years. Their modern combinations of classic floral and herbal oils are blended together using traditional perfumery ingredients. The new English Classics range from Potter and Moore has been carefully crafted in line with this legacy.

Por Homme

The U.S. male population will increase by 7 million from 2006-11, according to Mintel, and the 4.6% increase in population will allow for a larger target market for the fragrance industry. The U.S. men’s fragrance market is expected to reach $1.8 billion this year alone, with a variety of new fragrances por homme. For Fall 2007, the iconic modern man has been redefined, according to Calvin Klein’s latest fragrance, Man, said to be “a new classic expression for the masculine ideal.” An ancillary collection is also available  in an aftershave splash and balm.

By way of beauty, men’s grooming products marketer Jack Black recently introduced a fragrance element to his collection, Liquid Magnetism.  Like the boldest brandy or a warming cognac, Liquid Magnetism is described as a gentleman’s bar of authentic and alluring new scents carefully crafted with notes of rare and exotic origin.  It features layers of modern spice, new freshness and sensual woods.

Fashion designer Tommy Bahama strives to make a “Signature” aroma for guys with its newest fragrance, Signature for Men. The product range includes an assortment of special holiday sets to gift a favorite guy. And for the man who goes to extremes, Banana Republic’s latest fragrance for men is Cordovan. In keeping with the tradition of its FiFi finalist Discover Collection, Banana Republic named the fragrance after luxurious natural materials that represent the ultimate in masculinity, instantly bringing to mind a unique color and texture.

Furthering the macho aesthetic is Diesel’s Fuel for Life, said to be an energetic potion that teases the nose with clarity and modernity yet maintains a classic and sophisticated masculinity. The signature accords and unique construction reflects the individualistic signature “mix-and-match” philosophy and attitude of the Diesel brand.

The bottle for Fuel for Life for men is inspired by vintage whiskey flasks and is covered in an authentic and distressed canvas pouch. Diesel founder Renzo Rosso, in close collaboration with master perfumers Thierry Wasser and Annick Menardo of Firmenich, created Fuel for Life. According to Mr. Rosso, “We began by imagining scents that are a sort of secret potion for a new generation developed in a hidden laboratory.”

“Diesel is a very creative brand that takes the best of the past and injects it into the future,” said Mr. Menardo. “Inspired by Diesel’s jeans, I translated into fragrances the sexiness of the brand.”

Fragrance just may be the hottest style accessory for Fall 2007, and as seen by the season’s  trends, the right perfume or cologne will be a fashion “es-scentual” for 2008.