Spring Forth!

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | April 3, 2017

The prestige fine fragrance sector fizzled as 2016 came to a close. But hope springs eternal this month!

While the prestige beauty industry posted a healthy 6% sales gain in 2016, reaching $17 billion, the fragrance category eked out just a 1% rise for the year as consumers appeared to pour the majority of their cash into makeup counter coffers and online portal repositories. In fact, four out of every five dollars gained in prestige beauty last year stemmed from makeup, according to NPD Group, Port Washington, NY.  

Sales of prestige fragrance juices rose 2% in 2017, driven mostly by flankers, which, while representing about 21% of all fragrance sales, accounted for 161% of fragrance gains made during the course of the year, based on NPD’s year-end number crunching.  
Even the most wonderful time of the year for fine fragrance wasn’t so wonderful. Prestige fragrance sales declined 1% in Q4 2016, according to NPD. Makeup, meanwhile, posted a 12% gain during that critical quarter which includes the key holiday season.
NPD global beauty analyst Karen Grant told Happi that while December’s online fragrance activity was positive, the traditional outpost for perfumes and colognes revenue—the department store—really struggled.

That’s not to say that 2016 was a bust for everyone in the fragrance business. At Inter Parfums Inc., for example, 2016 sales rose 11.2% overall, with US-based operations generating net sales of $34.9 million, a 17.3% rise.

The fragrance company is banking on more growth in 2017. Inter Parfums’ chairman and CEO Jean Madar pointed to “an impressive line-up of fragrance launches” that will debut in 2017, with special emphasis on its newer brands such as the first new scent for the Rochas brand (Mademoiselle Rochas) and the first Coach fragrance for men. Also in the works are a new women’s version of First Instinct by Abercrombie & Fitch, and Wave 2 from fashion retail brand Hollister. According to Madar, the existing fragrances Inter Parfums has with these two American fashion brands “should continue to be growth catalysts in 2017.”

Older brands under the Inter Parfums umbrella will also “welcome new members” to their fragrance franchises, according to Madar. For example, Montblanc will see a third flanker added to the Legend family, Legend Night, as Inter Parfums looks build upon the success of the second flanker (Legend Spirit), which some estimated was one of the top five new launches in the US last year. And there’s activity brewing at Jimmy Choo too, with new men’s and women’s scents in the works.

Franchise expansion is also underway at three Parlux brands. Following up Gold Rush Paris Hilton, for example, is a new men’s flanker called Gold Rush Man. The new scent marks the 21st fragrance in the celebrity’s stash; her first, Paris Hilton for Women, hit counters in 2004.  Hilton and Parlux tapped Firmenich master perfumer Harry Fremont to create the juice for Gold Rush Man. The oriental-fruity fragrance opens with an energetic blend of bergamot, mandarin and cardamom. The freshness of the mid notes evolves to a sensual balance of lavender, sage and geranium. Tonka wood leads seamlessly into a sweet and earthy base of amber and vanilla, according to Parlux.

Another recent celebrity addition from Parlux comes from Rihanna. Kiss by Rihanna, the third fragrance in the performer’s RiRi collection, is described as a flirtatious, feminine and lighthearted white floral. It is comprised of top notes of neroli, plum and freesia. The heart of the fragrance consists of orange blossom, gardenia and Asian peony. Cashmere wood, cedarwood and ambergris form a warm base.  

Lastly, Tommy Bahama’s newest men’s fragrance, Maritime, has just launched at Belk, Bon-Ton, Dillard’s, Lord & Taylor and Von Maur following its exclusive debut at Tommy Bahama stores and tommybahama.com during the holiday season. The notes of aromatic-woody scent are said to be inspired by the rush and power of ocean waves. The juice opens with a zesty combination of bergamot, lavender, pink pepper and clary sage, concluding with smooth notes of violet leaf, geranium and ambergris. The fragrance rounds out with cedarwood, sandalwood, musk and moss.

Another designer is entering the fragrance scene this year—Tadashi Shoji, who counts Michelle Obama among his celebrity fans. The gardens in Japan served as the inspiration for the designer’s foray into fragrance; Eau De Rose is a floral/fresh juice, in which rose leads while a deeper exotic essence of oudh oil is said to create an amorous finish.  Eau De Rose will bow exclusively at Lord & Taylor and on Macys.com this month.

Bright Notes

Bright spots in prestige fragrance include niche and luxury offerings, as well as home fragrance products, according to NPD, and launch activity within these categories is heating up.

From Hermes Parfums comes Eau des Merveilles Bleue, an extension of the brand’s classic Eau des Merveilles. Out last month, the new scent is described as both woody and mineral, completed by a refreshing note of sea spray and warmed by patchouli.  
Fans of Diptyque’s Baies candle and L’Ombre dans l’Eau eau de toilette—both containing the notes of blackcurrant and roses—can take that iconic floral scent on the road as the brand is launching both limited edition packaging and a travel-sized fragrance.
Bond No. 9 has a new launch too: Nolita, a scent named after the New York City neighborhood that’s become a Millennial hotspot. The eau de perfume, which debuts this month, has top notes of freesia, paired with the “unexpected wakeup wham” of tangerine. At its heart is jasmine samba blended with lily, which is sustained with base notes of amber, musk and sandalwood.  

With the Nolita launch, Bond No. 9 appears to be forging a bond between fragrance and color cosmetics. Accompanying the Nolita eau de parfum is the company’s first lipstick.

Making a greater connection between color and fragrance could deliver a jolt the fragrance sector needs. Some observers contend scent marketers need to up their game to entice engaged beauty buyers who have been wooed to the beauty counter. According to L2, while fragrance houses have relied on the more typical marketing strategies like celebrity endorsements, more companies are tapping social influencers to engage customers. Coty, for example, invited bloggers and influencers to a pre-launch event in Los Angeles to generate buzz for Marc Jacobs Divine Decadence, which was set to hit counters soon thereafter.

While bloggers gain influence across beauty, a high-profile celebrity will always have cache in fragrance. Guerlain recently named Angelina Jolie as the face of its newest women’s scent, Mon Guerlain. At the heart of the new juice is Tahitensis vanilla, (also present in Jicky, Shalimar and Habit Rouge) as well as lavender, sambac jasmine and sandalwood. Jolie, an actress, filmmaker, special envoy of the UN Refugee Agency and co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, donated her entire salary from the Mon Guerlain marketing campaign to charity.

New Tactics

As the fragrance sector continues to face challenges, savvy companies are exploring new ways to grow their business.
Recently, venerable juices from Caron Paris were added to Amazon’s Luxury Beauty store, including men’s, women’s and unisex scents such as Fleur de Rocaille, Lady Caron, Caron Paris Pour Un Homme and Royal Bain De Caron, to name just a few.

“Paris Perfumes Inc. is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Amazon.com to make Caron Paris products more easily available to Amazon customers,” noted Aryeh Nakache, vice president of operations at Paris Perfumes Inc., the exclusive US distributor for the luxury perfume house. “With the world’s technological advances making the shopping experience so convenient, our goal is to open the door to the exquisite Caron Paris universe for more people to explore.”

Executives at Inter Parfums are rethinking their strategy for Karl Lagerfeld. Last month, the company told analysts that with sales performance not meeting original expectations, it plans to “reinvigorate the brand by changing the positioning” and introducing two new fragrances “at more democratic prices.” Specifically, CEO Madar said that the new Lagerfeld products, due out this summer, will be 25% lower in price and will be positioned to attract a younger consumer.

Having witnessed the ebb and flow before, Grant described her outlook for fine fragrance as “cautiously positive” for 2017.  Key to that, she said, will be gaining a deeper understanding of who today’s beauty customer is, which will help stakeholders “find out what levers to push.”  

And from there, it’s how quickly a company can push them.•

Stay…Just a Little Bit Longer

“If only my favorite fragrance lasted a bit longer!” is the lament of many a scent lover. A pair of entrepreneurs with extensive expertise in media and beauty are touting a product that can help: Linger Fragrance Primer, which provides an invisible shield that preserves skin’s moisture as it balances its surface to extend fragrance wear.

Based on a fine matrix of silicone polymers, the patent-pending hydrophobic formulation creates a moisture barrier that reduces transepidermal water loss. Fragrance absorption is controlled and fragrance stays closer to the surface of the skin and lasts longer, according Abby Wallach and Caroline Farias, cofounders of to Scentinvent Technologies.

Wallach has extensive digital media and TV expertise while Fabrigas’ career has included beauty scent and sensory marketing experience at Clarins, Lancôme, Prada and Chanel.

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