Fragrance by Design

November 4, 2008

Consumers are still willing to pay for premium fragrances during an economic downturn. Classic and designer-backed scents garner the most interest, and celebrity-driven juices are down, but not out.

Banana Republic rolls out a Classic.
Fragrance by Design

Consumers are still willing to pay for premium fragrances during an economic downturn. Classic and designer-backed scents garner the most interest, and celebrity-driven juices are down, but not out.

Lindsay Elkins
Contributing Editor

Are consumers willing to shell out the spare cash to purchase a premium fragrance during these uncertain economic times? You bet. They’re just going about it in a different way.
According to Karen Grant, global industry analyst and vice president of beauty at the NPD Group, “they’re spending more carefully, but they’re not jumping from prestige to mass.”
Rising costs have forced consumers to take a closer look at what they buy and make changes accordingly in order to save money, according to Information Resources, Inc.
In 2007, retail sales of fragrance declined more than 1% in the current value, to less than $5.9 billion, according to Euromonitor International. This is due to a lack of growth in premium women’s fragrances, a segment that accounts for approximately 80% share of sales in the fine fragrance category. And things may get worse before they get better. According to Euromonitor, sales will fall 14% through 2012.
During this time, manufacturers are expected to seek a more exclusive image for their products. Men’s fragrances are expected to perform best, declining only 9% to 2012, as men grow increasingly comfortable with fragrance.

Old Faithful

Despite declines, the most profitable sector within premium fragrance is classic scents, according to Ms. Grant. “We’re seeing real strength in the classics,” she said, noting the ongoing success of Chanel No. 5. “More than half of women fragrance purchasers are looking to buy a fragrance they have already owned. The classic scents have a lockdown on the market in the top 10,” she added.
Avon will launch Ironman next year.
According to Euromonitor Interna- tional, classic, well-established fragrances remain top sellers in the U.S., with the older generation accounting for most of the purchases within this segment. Brand loyalty is most notable among older consumers who prefer scents with the quality and prestige status attached to them.
A name that is synonymous with classic chic among consumers is Chanel. In 2007, the company introduced a new, limited distribution line called Les Exclusifs de Chanel and has added two new scents, Sycomore and Beige, to this year’s lineup.
Chanel Sycomore is a classic take on vetiver, an Indian grass, and contains notes of sandalwood, cypress, juniper and pink pepper. A 200ml size retails for $190.

In Praise of Beige

Beige, which launched exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue in October, was inspired by Chanel's love for the basic and seemingly ordinary color. According to the company, beige may seem quite bland but Chanel executives insist that this neutral staple hides a discreet sensuality. The scent is a light floral with notes of freesia and frangipani with a touch of honey. A 200ml bottle retails for $190.
Always looking to put a modern spin on an old staple, Bond No. 9 is an edgy perfumery that draws inspiration from the neighborhoods, streets and lifestyle of New York, with scents bearing names such as Bleecker Street, Chinatown and Park Avenue.
The company’s newest introduction, Andy Warhol Lexington Avenue, is a modern take on pre-pop 1950s New York with fresh citrus topnotes with a floral base and contemporary gourmand notes of fennel, almonds and crème brulee, to name a few. According to the company, Andy Warhol Lexington Avenue is meant to celebrate the fashionable, sophisticated and successful women of New York City.
Lexington Avenue, the newest scent from Bond  New York.
Launched in September, 100ml and 50ml sizes retail for $195 and $135, respectively. For consumers looking for that extravagant holiday gift item, there are limited edition flacons that feature Robert Lee Morris sterling silver shoe pendants of varied Warhol shoe designs on a sterling silver chain with a retail price of $575. Meanwhile,  Retail giant Banana Republic gave its Classic scent a contemporary update and re-launched it as a limited edition for the company’s 30th anniversary. First launched in 1995, the unique citrus fragrance was an instant favorite among consumers, according to the company. Now loyal followers and those new to the scent can experience this fresh take. For the first time, Classic is formulated as an eau de parfum rather than an eau de toilette, to create a stronger, richer scent with higher fragrance concentration, according to the company. Without changing any of the scent’s core notes, Banana Republic has rebalanced the top and mid notes with increased cedarwood and teak wood. The limited edition Classic retails for $48 for a 100ml size and is available through December.
Clean Perfume recently launched a Holiday Coffret Set featuring 1oz sizes of Clean eau de parfum, Clean shower fresh, Clean warm cotton and Clean ultimate that retails for $65 at Sephora, Sephora.com and Ulta stores nationwide. The epitome of classic, each Clean fragrance is subtle and fresh, according to the company.

Fashionable Fragrance

Taking a cue from the success of their clothes on the runways, more fashion designers are getting into the fragrance business either for the first time, or after years of hiatus. Many fashion houses say their goal is to bridge the gap between fashion and beauty, in order to create a complete lifestyle under their name.
The Clean holiday coffret.
Fashion heavyweight Azzaro launched Azarro Couture in September. “I’ve wanted to build a history of fragrance at Azarro for a very long time,” said Vanessa Seward, artistic director. According to Ms. Seward, Azzaro Couture draws on a scent first created in 1974 that has been left out of the brand’s portfolio for the past 15 years.
This new twist on an earlier scent includes five absolutes of mimosa, May rose, iris, ambrette seed and galbanum essence. The fragrance carries a hefty price tag of $204 for a 75ml eau de parfum spray, but that is a fraction of the price of what you would pay for a piece of Azarro clothing, so the brand is positioning scent as a more affordable piece of couture in the current shaky economic times.
Vera Wang is no stranger to the runway or the fragrance counter, with a successful clothing empire that recently expanded into the more affordable realm with Simply Vera, Vera Wang for Kohl’s, and now a third fragrance, Vera Wang Look, to accompany Vera Wang and Princess. The brand touts Look as a sophisticated update to Princess, that targets a more youthful consumer. The fragrance, created by Firmenrich, is formulated with notes such as mandarin, jasmine and vanilla, and launches this month in 500 specialty stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.
“We see this scent as a specialty store item first and foremost,” said Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of American fragrances for Coty Prestige, which holds the license for Vera Wang fragrances. “We wanted it to be luxurious, prestigious and modern.”
In the Spring, Coty will rollout Look globally. A 1oz eau de parfum spray retails for $45, 1.7oz for $70 and 3.4oz for $90.
Fashion forward and funky Ed Hardy designer Christian Audigier is following up the February launch of his signature Ed Hardy men’s and women’s fragrances, which were a surprise hit, with the December launch of Love & Luck, with full retail distribution rolling out in January. Mr. Audigier was the brain behind the bottles, which feature a geisha on the women’s scent and playing cards, dice and coins on the men’s version.
“This is a very visual brand,” said Zalman Lekach, chief executive officer of New Wave Fragrances, Ed Hardy’s fragrance licensee. “This is for the young and affluent consumer who wants a little street cred and to feel edgy and cool.”
The NPD Group’s Ms. Grant cites Ed Hardy as a brand to watch in the prestige fragrance space.
Michael Kors Island Bermuda debuts next month.
“Ed Hardy fragrance sales have done very well,” she said, referring to the prior men’s and women’s signature launch, which managed to break into the men’s and women’s top 20 prestige fragrance rankings within one month of its on-shelf date.
Love & Luck for women is an eau de parfum with notes of blood orange, black currant and sandalwood, while the men’s version, an eau de toilette, features notes of cardamom, absinthe and agarwood. Both scents are sold in a 1.7oz size for $55 and a 3.4oz version for $75.
Top designer and recurring judge on the hit TV series Project Runway, Michael Kors adds two new fragrances to his roster with Michael Kors Very Pretty, which launches this month, and the December debut of Island Bermuda. Very Pretty is a holiday flanker to his signature fragrance franchise, which features notes of fluid green violet, water drenched coconut and sandalwood. A 1.7oz eau de parfum retails for $75. 
“It’s a limited edition flanker for holiday that we think will give new energy to this classic fragrance brand,” explained Carol Russo, senior vice president and general manager of Aramis and Designer Fragrances, North America.
Island Bermuda is the third installment of limited edition flankers in Kors’ vacation-themed lineup (following Island Fiji and Island Hawaii, introduced in spring 2005 and 2006, respectively). The new scent is a breezy floral with notes of native hibiscus, passion flower and driftwood. A 1.7oz eau de parfum will retail for $62 at outlets such as Bloomingdale’s and Sephora.
Avon is counting on the star power of actor Patrick Dempsey to attract a following for Unscripted.
Bill Blass and fragrance licensee First American Brands Inc. found inspiration in the couture gown featured in the designer’s runway collection to create Bill Blass Couture, a line of fragrances that launched in Saks Fifth Avenue stores in September. The line debuted with four scents, dubbed Couture 1, Couture 3, Couture 6 and Couture 7, with more in the pipeline.
“The idea is to launch to new fragrances every year in conjunction with new Blass fashion collections,” explained Randall Christian, general manager of First American Brands.
Each 75ml eau de parfum retails for $150.
While premium men’s fragrances did decline slightly in current value terms in 2007, according to Euromonitor International, the company predicts that they will be the best performers through 2012, declining only 9% in constant value terms compared to the 11% expected decline of women’s premium fragrances. This is due largely to the fact that men are expected to continue to develop an interest in premium fragrances, and as American men become more comfortable using other grooming products, they will, in turn, purchase fragrance more frequently.

It’s a Guy Thing

Designer Tommy Hilfiger, known for his classic, all American esthetic, upped his sophistication level with the September launch of Hilfiger. According to Mr. Hilfiger, the new scent, which skews to a slightly older customer and can go from day to evening, launches at a time when the brand is on the rise in terms of quality and renewed positioning. The Hilfiger scent is housed in a heavy glass bottle and features notes of pink grapefruit, mahogany wood and papaya. A 1.7oz size retails for $47 and a 3.4oz version is $59. A 3.4oz aftershave balm for $47 rounds out the collection.
With a starring role on hit ABC TV show Grey’s Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey, aka Dr. McDreamy, is making his foray into the fragrance world with the launch of Unscripted under the Avon umbrella, which is available through representatives beginning this month. Teaming with Avon was a natural fit, according to Mr. Dempsey, whose makeup artist wife, Jillian, has served as the company’s global creative color director since 2006. According to group vice president of U.S. marketing Silvana Cassol, Unscripted is set to be the biggest U.S. men’s fragrance launch for Avon.
“The concept for the fragrance is to be the story of a journey,” said Ms. Cassol, alluding to Mr. Dempsey’s passion for auto racing and classic cars. International Flavors & Fragrances created the woody scent with notes of black peppercorn, fig and leatherwood. The 75ml scent will retail for $32.
Also new from Avon is Iron Man, a men’s fragrance collection named after the world-famous triathlon. Available in April 2009, the Ironman Fragrance EDT spray will be unveiled just before this year’s Ford Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The Drom-created juice is described as a victorious fusion of energizing citrus and exotic spices spiked with rich woods. It is housed in sleek, but rugged bottle with an organic feel. The top is designed to look like a bike grip. Ironman competitor Matt Miller will be the face of Avon’s new Ironman collection. Mr. Miller, founder of the C Different Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping visually impaired athletes participate in events worldwide.  In addition to the EDT, the collection includes aftershave conditioner and antiperspirant. Avon will start the global launch in April 2009 and roll out the scent to the U.S. market in May.
Elizabeth Arden hopes to capture a new, more urban audience following the September launch of 9IX Rocawear, the first fragrance launched under the Rocawear name. According to Euromonitor, the key fragrance purchasers are young people, Hispanics and African Americans, so Elizabeth Arden appears to be right on the money by aligning with this brand.
“We’re targeting a consumer that we haven’t had the opportunity to communicate with over the last few years,” said Tamara Steele, senior vice president of marketing for global fragrances at Elizabeth Arden. “We feel it offers us a great opportunity for growth.”
The fragrance, which includes notes of mandarin zest, suede and golden amber, was created by International Flavors & Fragrances and will be sold in retail outlets such as Macy’s and Dillards. A 1.7- and 3.4oz eaux de toilette retails for $50 and $65, respectively.

Scent of a Star

Celebrity scents, which were once big business in the fragrance sector, are beginning to lose consumer interest, according to The NPD Group’s Ms. Grant.
“Since 2005 celebrity scents are down 17% and they are down 5% since 2007,” said Ms. Grant.
According to Euromonitor Interna- tional,  demand for celebrity fragrances is softening largely in part to the influx of fragrance launches, which has led to consumer confusion and shorter fragrance lifecycles, in addition to the fact that consumers are paying closer attention to what is going on in a celebrity’s private life, such as the case of the public meltdown of pop star Britney Spears, earlier this year. While Curious Britney Spears was the best performing fragrance in 2004, when the singer was at the height of her music career, her subsequent launches have not performed to the same level, as her private life became more tumultuous.
While celebrity scents may be down, they’re not out…yet. “The power of celebrity is still very important, but the dynamic is changing quite a bit,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group. “It is no longer just a popularity contest; authenticity counts too.” This makes a celebrity’s association with products and brands more believable.”
The NPD Group’s study, Celebrity Influence 2008, surveyed a celebrity’s likeability among consumers, with the top five most likeable celebrities consisting of Will Smith, Denzel Washing- ton, Matt Damon, Halle Berry and George Clooney.
In light of this study, Halle Berry couldn’t have timed the launch of her first scent, Halle by Halle Berry, any better. Set to hit counters in March under the Coty umbrella, the fragrance is a woody oriental with notes of fig and mimosa. Three sizes of eau de parfum will be offered at retail. A .5oz will be priced at $17, a 1oz for $28 and a 1.7oz for $35.
Known for her partying ways, extravagant lifestyle and little else, Paris Hilton, in partnership with Parlux Fragrances Inc., recently launched Fairy Dust, the heiress’ fifth fragrance to date. With notes of pink peony, peach nectar and vanilla cream, the new fragrance is priced at $45 and $55 for 1.7- and 3.4oz, respectively. Parlux Fragrances notes that despite the perceived dislike for Ms. Hilton, her fragrances do well in terms of sales, particularly outside the U.S.
According to Ms. Grant, while a new celebrity scent hasn’t been able to break into the top 10 fragrance standings recently, Sean Combs’ Unforgiv- able and Usher Raymond’s He are top performers on the male celebrity fragrance front.

State of the Industry

The Fragrance Foundation will hold its annual State of the Industry luncheon on Nov. 18 at the Metropolitan Club, New York, NY. The cocktai reception begins at 11:30am, followed by the luncheon and panel discussion. More info: www.fragrancefoundation.org

Capitalizing on the popularity of He and She, Usher added flankers in September, dubbed UR for Men and UR for Women. Housed in the original Usher He and She bottles, UR for Women is a fruity floral with notes of honeysuckle and praline and UR for Men is an energizing fragrance with notes of Thai basil and cashmere wood. A 1.7- and 3.4oz bottle of UR for Women retails for $52 and $68 respectively, while a 1.7- and 3.4oz of UR for Men costs $50 and $65.
Launching exclusively in Macy’s this December, Sean Combs hopes to continue his fragrance success with I Am King, a scent that aims to evoke simplicity and sophistication, according to the brand. I Am King includes notes such as tangerine zest, crème de cassis and key lime pie and retails for $57 for a 1.7oz size and $74 for a 3.4oz version.
While uncertain economic times may have some consumers cutting off their luxury purchases altogether, many remain willing to spend their money on prestige fragrance—they are simply more selective and are choosing more carefully than they have in the past. Classic and designer-backed fragrances are the winners, as they have a pre-existing consumer base and established prestige. Meanwile, celebrity fragrances are still holding on, particularly in the male sector.