In the ever-evolving personal care industry, the fine fragrance segment is like a cat with nine lives: it always lands on its feet. After facing the effects of the recession in the past few years, it’s looking like consumers are once again treating themselves to that novel celebrity juice, fashionable flanker or limited-run reinvention of a favorite mainstay.
The prestige fragrance industry showed robust sales with a 7% rise to $1.6 billion in US department stores year-to-date (January to September 2012), with men’s fragrance sales growing slightly faster at 7% than women’s, which showed a 6.5% increase, according to The NPD Group. In 2011, prestige fragrance sales jumped 11% to $2.8 billion.
Designer fragrances, which accounts for nearly three quarters of the total market, grew at the same pace as the overall category performance, while jewelry and niche prestige fragrance sales almost tripled.
“Fragrance is back as a favorite category in prestige beauty.After years of lackluster sales and declining product usage, we are seeing a shift in consumer sentiment,” said Karen Grant, vice president and global industry analyst, The NPD Group.
Why the shift?
“The answers are many, not least of which is the range of options available which is helping to fire up this rekindled interest in the category.Whatever a woman’s preference, there is a scent for her in the bouquet—from classics to new, from European to American, from widely popular brands to niche favorites, from high-end to moderately priced—there is something for everyone. If fragrance continues to ride the current momentum, 2012 promises to be the best year on record,” she predicted.
Shoppers are looking for unique packaging and a story behind the scent, noted Virginia Lee, a senior research analyst for Euromonitor International, Chicago. “Since fragrance is an emotional purchase, having a great story about the inspiration behind the scent will help connect a consumer to that fragrance,” she explained.
The recent recession has today’s consumers shifting focus, and their needs and wants are making them purchase a little differently than the past, Ruth Sutcliffe, senior marketing director and fragrance designer, Coty Beauty, New York, told Happi.
“Socio-economic status and geographical location play a big role, but they are also looking for new innovations and uniqueness in scent,” she explained. “The market is saturated, and there are a few ways for a brand to really stand out among all others.
“Besides the classic brands that are tried and true with a lot of loyal customers, the olfactive quality, uniqueness of scent and packaging and the right price is necessary.Of course, we know that a unique eye-catching package is key to draw the consumer to the product, but it is the overall character and quality of the fragrance that will give the emotional satisfaction, and build loyalty to that brand.”
Famous Faces, Famed Fragrances
Yet, today’s consumer still buys into the celebrity idea. Even iconic brands are employing celebs for a little lift. At press time, actor Brad Pitt was making headlines as the first male face of Chanel No. 5. This is just an example of how celebrity fragrances allow the consumers who are generally fans of the celebrity to enjoy yet another facet of his or her life, noted Sutcliffe of Coty.
“Purchasing a designer or celebrity fragrance brand is a more affordable way to be able to be a part of that world,” she said, noting that the industry yearns for newness and innovation, and that the Lady Gaga Fame black juice is the “biggest, most important innovation in the fragrance industry this year—if not the past several years.”
Celebrity fragrances attract shoppers because young Americans are fascinated by celebrities and seek to emulate their style, agreed Lee of Euromonitor.
“The celebrity attraction is especially potent with singers such as Rihanna because their personality shines through in everything they do in contrast to actors who change styles for different roles,” she told Happi. “Today’s celebrities also bring huge social media followings (Lady Gaga has 53.2 million Facebook ‘likes’ and 29.8 million Twitter followers) that can be mobilized to buy their fragrances.”
For example, the face of Avon’s latest celebrity fragrance is New Jersey’s homegrown rocker, Jon Bon Jovi. The Unplugged fragrances for Him and Her look to capture “the one of a kind feeling you experience while listening to your favorite song,” according to the company.
“Jon’s music and philanthropic work celebrate independence and optimism, two beautiful qualities that radiate from within,” explained Lily DeStefano, vice president of Avon North America Beauty. “The ‘Unplugged’ scents evoke an emotional connection—something Jon inspires in audiences around the world.”
Unplugged for Her is a floral oriental fragrance that launched in October, while Unplugged for Him is a woody floral musk scent that will be available this month. Both will be sold exclusively through Avon representatives in North America.
The trendsetters at Coty are hoping to get a little “closer” to celebrity fragrance perfection with the recent global launch of Closer by Halle Berry.
“I wanted to create a unique fragrance for women that would also appeal to men,” said the actress in a press statement. “Scent is very closely linked with desire and attraction and I love the idea that a fragrance can bring a man and a woman together. Closer creates a new level of intimacy through the power of scent.”
Closer by Halle Berry is a blend of feminine and masculine notes. Master perfumer Jacques Cavallier married the opposing fragrance facets, enveloping the traditional masculine fougere accord with a luscious feminine blend of violet flowers and mimosa, one of Berry’s favorite flowers, according to the company. Delicate notes and a bubbly fresh ozonic top accord surround a rich, warm woodsy center. A provocative curvature shows up on the elegant prism-shaped bottle.
After the worldwide success of her best-selling fragrance, Heat, which debuted in 2009, Beyoncé has introduced Midnight Heat, the third addition to her iconic fragrance collection. The new fragrance is billed as a “tempting, sexy scent” created in collaboration with perfumer Olivier Gillotin of Givaudan.
“I created Midnight Heat because I wanted to introduce the ultimate evening scent—a sultry, sensual fragrance,” said Beyoncé in a statement.
The fragrance features the exotic purple mokara orchid at its heart. The fruity floral gourmand opens with juicy top notes of dragonfruit, starfruit and Armenian plum. The heart is a vivid floral bouquet built upon the orchid, queen of the night black tulip and purple peony. Finally, the base features warm amber, patchouli and sandalwood. The vintage-inspired glass flacon features a smoldering ombre effect, blooming from a deep violet hue to a sheer lilac. The top of the bottle is wrapped in a silver band, inscribed with Beyoncé’s name and finished with a purple-tinted cap featuring her initial, “B.” Legendary photographer Terry Richardson shot the advertising campaign for Midnight Heat.
Shakira, another singer known for turning up the heat, launched Elixir by Shakira.The story of Elixir takes place in the deserts of Morocco, evoking images of the sun setting over golden sand. Neroli flower mixed with the exotic freshness of white pepper provides the opening of this oriental fragrance. The top note gives way to a feminine floral heart composed of freesia and peony wrapped in a fruity, velvety apricot accord. Elixir’s bottom note reveals a balsamic mix of benzoin and sugar cane, with white cedar wood, musk and warm amber.
Fine fragrance fans will Dazzle this holiday season with Paris Hilton’s newest fragrance of the same name.Sparkling with the multi-faceted glamour of a pink diamond, Dazzle is the newest fragrance from the “celebutante.” As brilliant and feminine as a coveted gem, this fruity floral alluringly expresses Paris’ whimsical side, revealing her inner beauty—dazzlingly and charming without the need for bling, according to Parlux. Pink lady apple, sweet and tart, opens this effervescent fragrance, and then bright, juicy notes of maraschino cherry and peach nectar follow. Dazzle leads to a luminous heart, glistening with wonderfully bright, vivacious violet petals, shimmering with the hidden allure of pink calypso orchid and dizzying with the sunlit shine of orange blossoms. Frothy like the bubbles from pink champagne, whipped vanilla, light as air, surrounds sensuous white patchouli as crystallized musk spins it all together.
Jessica Simpson Vintage Bloom
Hot on the heels of her first foray into the fragrance industry comes Snooki’s newest creation, the fresh and feminine Snooki Couture by Nicole Polizzi. The reality star, and new mom, stays authentic to her outrageous style by packaging Snooki Couture in bold colors, wild animal prints and including a detachable green ring. The scent, available for holiday gifting at Perfumania stores nationwide as well as HSN, opens with a spirited note of lemon and fuji apple blossom.At the heart is pink honeysuckle wrapped in the warmth of white musk and cashmere woods.
Favorite celebrity beach destination, The Hamptons, even has its own fragrance line inspired by this chic vacation spot.
“Today’s shoppers are looking for niche and indie fragrances that not everyone has experienced. In a world saturated with scents, people want to find a perfect fragrance that can be ‘theirs’—one that is still not known to everyone and feels more exclusive,” explained Salvatore Piazzolla, president and owner of Hampton Sun, New York. “Right now, we’re seeing a lot of destination fragrances— scents that really transport the user to a specific place, time or good memory.”
Hampton Sun’s Privet Bloom has a combination of scents reminiscent of summer in the Hamptons, yet its fresh, sophisticated and clean notes are great year round, added Piazzolla.
“A current trend we are seeing among many new launches is the idea of destination fragrances which transport the consumer to a faraway location, giving them a piece of that world,” agreed Lisa Hoffman, founder of Lisa Hoffman Beauty, Los Angeles.
Lisa Hoffman created a unique form of wearable fragrance.
“A way that they do this is by not only telling the story of this location but by highlighting a particular unique ingredient to that location. This is exactly what inspired all five of my fragrance collections. My fragrance house, Givaudan, helped me to tell beautiful scent stories through particular locations and ingredients,” she said.
A big launch for Hoffman’s is her “portable” fragrance beads to be used in jewelry designed by Tom Binns in a recent collaboration. Using eco-friendly materials and revolutionary technology, the scented spheres deliver maximum levels of fine fragrance for weeks inside earrings or necklace charms, according to the company, in variations such as Japanese agarwood and Tuscan fig.
Bling It On
Fragrances from fashion houses such as Chanel, Gucci and Prada offer designer style in a more affordable package, said Lee of Euromonitor. After all, few people have the money to buy a $2,000 Gucci dress though many can splurge on a $63 bottle of Gucci Première eau de parfum.
“For fashion fragrances, it’s an affordable entry point to a product by a famous fashion designer,”agreed Brian Robinson, president TPR Holdings LLC, New York. His company is set to roll out a fragrance from bridal designer Reem Acra.
Developed in collaboration with TPR Holdings LLC, Reem Acra eau de parfum will make its fashionable debut this fall. Much like Acra’s design philosophy, the eponymous fragrance is a direct reflection of her appreciation for traditional classics coupled with modern luxury and sophistication, said the company.
Inspired by Acra’s memories of collecting amber as a child in the forests of Lebanon, perfumer Pierre Negrin of Firmenich created a sleek sheer amber effect apparent throughout the entire fragrance and balanced it with shimmering fruit, voluminous flower petals and sensual musk, according to the company. The luminous glass flacon packaging is embellished with Acra’s insignia, a whimsical dove pattern that reflects regal tradition from the East. The glass is bordered in rich gold and topped with an architecturally modern cap.
Also an ideal gift for the fashion-forward, Vince Camuto’s first fragrance is nuanced like the subtle richness of suede, while smooth and elegant rum absolute blends with the nectar of osmanthus, a rare Chinese flower with a luscious scent, as the fragrance opens.Bulgarian white rose contrasts with deep, rich notes of leather and the essence of night blooming jasmine, creating an alluring signature.As the fragrance evolves, notes of vanilla, patchouli and warm amber Brazil are embraced by musk.
Florabotanica by Balenciaga
Fellow fashion house Michael Kors, Guess and Nautica are also bulking up fragrance portfolios this season.
Inspired by the success of the Michael Kors Gold scent, the Rose Edition exclusive “signature” bouquet is revealed through five unique floral facets—from the most transparent to the deeply voluptuous—of tuberose, rose centifolia, muguet, glistening peony and gardenia. Additional notes of luminous pink pepper combine with waterlily, raspberry and michelia.
The latest rollout from Michael Kors.
Meanwhile, Coty Beauty introduced Guess Seductive Homme Blue, a new interpretation of modern masculinity, according to the company. Perfumer Guillaume Flavigny of Givaudan built “a truly unexpected fragrance” with a mélange of spicy, peppery notes, brisk aquatic accords and an earthy base.
“The launch of Guess Seductive Homme Blue gives Guess guys an exciting new fragrance option,” said Paul Marciano, chief executive officer and creative director for Guess? Inc. “The marine notes of this fragrance are really fresh, like a day at the beach.”
Also inspired by the sea, Nautica Aqua Rush embodies the spirit of nautical adventure, according to the company. Bold, masculine and powerful, the fragrance evokes the steadfast character of the classic seafarer.
“Nautica Aqua Rush evokes the energy of an adventurous lifestyle,” remarked Steve Mormoris, senior vice president, global marketing, Coty Beauty. “This exhilarating new Nautica fragrance celebrates the strength and masculinity of the active man and, ultimately, the epic power of the ocean.”
The energetic scent opens with brisk top notes of sea breeze accord and yuzu splashed with a twist of spicy-sweet coriander. The fragrance’s heart uncovers notes of watermint, clary sage absolute and violet leaves. Masculine notes of amberwood, musk and teak wood anchor the scent.
Cornerstone fragrances still garner a cult following, so fragrance houses know to build on business with line extensions—whether it is a variation and/or a limited edition run.
For instance, the cult classic DKNY Be Delicious scent got a makeover this season with Be Delicious Eau so Intense, a “magnified version” of the existing scent, according to the company. It is billed as resembling “the first mouthwatering bite of a fresh picked apple.”
DKNY Be Delicious Intense
“There are two ways to intensify a scent. You can simply raise the entire concentration so you have a larger overall impression of the fragrance or you choose one or two key notes and magnify those individually,” explained Trudi Loren, vice president, corporate fragrance development worldwide, The Estée Lauder Companies, New York. “For Be Delicious, we maintained the original structure, balance and simply amplified the entire fragrance to give it a higher concentration so it has more overall impact both on top and in wear so your Be Delicious is longer lasting!”
Housed in a clear apple-shaped bottle, the Be Delicious Eau So Intense packaging is a variation of the beautiful Be Delicious bottle with apple-green cap and details accentuating the intense succulent apple-like fragrance.
Another leading Estée Lauder fragrance, Pleasures Eau de Parfum, debuted in 1995 and created the trend for uplifting, airy fragrances. Now, the brand rolls out a new personification of the scent, Pleasures Eau Fraîche, touted as a “vibrant yet dewy floral fragrance that celebrates life’s simple moments in a new and modern way,” according to the company. In Pleasures Eau Fraîche, the proportion and balance of Pleasures Eau de Parfum have been modified.
This rebalanced impression opens with top notes including pure white lilies and violet leaves with even more airy clarity. The crisp green elements are fresher and more watery. The floral heart of black lilacs, white peonies, pink roses and exotic karo-karounde blossoms smells even more petally and dewy. The signature baie rose spiciness is more intense in the eau de parfum, as is the underlying warmth of the floral heart.
Estée Lauder spokesmodel Constance Jablonski is the face of the corresponding campaign. The packaging reinvents the same bottle silhouette in a “playful and striking design” that includes a glossy pink cap with a pop of green color around the neck. To convey a sense of youthful vibrancy, the bottle is filled with rosé colored juice and housed in impactful and eye-catching exterior packaging with a pink and green colorblock design.
For fall, Donna Karan found inspiration in the Tahitian Pearl—transforming the brand’s iconic Cashmere Mist into a new luxurious scent and body collection, Cashmere Mist Pearl Essence. This limited edition fragrance is said to layer the satin luster of the rare Tahitian pearl against the warmth of cashmere. African ginger is layered over a pearly white bouquet of Tunisian neroli and Lily of the Valley. The core is made up of florals: tiare flower and jasmine sambac. Underneath, patchouli oil cascades over sandalwood and musk.
Another launch, a little closer to stateside, is Bond No. 9’s latest innovation, which pays homage to its home base with Bond No. 9 Manhattan. According to the company, it officially belongs in the oriental gourmand category, rich in spices—some of them very new to the oriental repertory. Its pace is set by a mélange of topnotes: nutmeg, saffron, coriander seeds—softened with the addition of peach. The heart notes continue the gourmet theme, as sweet honeycomb, made from the nectar of flowers, mingles with black plum, hinting of chocolate and a warm and inviting gingerbread accord. Moroccan jasmine, the sole flower at the center of this scent, itself evokes the aura of peaches or ripe bananas. Then comes the lingering drydown: creamy, velvety-smooth sandalwood; rich, balsamic patchouli; a soft vanilla infusion; and musk.
A Fragrant Future
The growing interest in niche fragrances is expected to continue, aided by fragrance bloggers who know more about a specific fragrance than a salesperson at the fragrance counter, observed Lee of Euromonitor International. Celebrity fragrances will also remain important, as youth constantly seek out new celebrities to admire and emulate, she added.
According to Sutcliffe of Coty Beauty, the floral category will continue to rein in fragrance, but the industry will see it evolve.
“I believe we will see less fruity florals because this genre is saturated. Of course, there will always be fruit notes incorporated into fragrance top notes, because they offer freshness and youthfulness to certain brands, but they will be more subtle and non-sticky,” she explained. “Red berries, including cherry, are surfacing, and we will see flavor materials merge with fragrances … consumers are looking for new, fresh twists as well as modernized floral compositions, so I feel that we will continue to see new ways to modernize rose, and other noble florals such as violet and jasmine.”
Sutcliffe added that “new gourmand” and food notes will continue to play a part in the progression of the fragrance sector, but it will expand from vanilla and caramel more exotic scents, like anise, truffles, almond or coconut.
Ultimately, according to Hoffman of Hoffman Beauty, suppliers and marketers are going to rise to the occasion and meet the growing demands of consumers.
“Perfumers are pushing the boundaries of consumer preference by offering new scents using rare and unique ingredients,” she explained. “Consumers are hungry for creative packaging and innovation in application. The need to surprise and excite consumers is constant.”
What’s Topped Sales So Far in 2012?
• The top five best-selling women’s fragrance brands (January through August 2012) are:
Estée Lauder Looks To The Middle East for Inspiration
Out now stateside, Estée Lauder Wood Mystique is a direct response to Middle East consumers’ desire for lavish, elegant fragrances which offer perfumed luxury and a lingering scented trail as a “hidden communicator” of quality and good taste, according to the company.
“Part of our fragrance strategy is to address local cultural tastes and preferences which provide the opportunity for a very unique connection with our consumers,” said Karyn Khoury, senior vice president, corporate fragrance development worldwide, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. “Estée Lauder Wood Mystique was inspired by the very specific, rich and identifiable olfactive palate of Middle Eastern consumers and their desire for a highly luxurious fragrance with strong diffusion and presence. Sparing no expense, this fragrance uses the most rare, expensive and noble ingredients—the iconic pillars of classic perfumery.”
This woodsy oriental is housed in a rich black and gold bottle. The EL cartouche is silkscreened in black. Intended for display like an exquisite piece of jewelry, the bottle features a weighted translucent gray cap topped off with a gold beveled plaque that snaps closed with a definitively rich sound, said the company.