Buoyant Fragrance Sales Through Most of Europe

By Katie Rodgers, European Cosmetic Markets | May 1, 2009

The mood is upbeat in women’s fragrances in Western Europe these days, as the UK, Spain and France all posted significant growth. In contrast, Italy posted slight gains, while sales in Germany were flat.

France is synonymous with perfumes and the country continues to impress in this area. According to Febea, sales of women’s fragrances surged 9.6% to $2.1 billion in 2007. The selective channel fared particularly well here, leaping 10.8% to $1.8 billion, while mass market sales inched up 2.7% to $149 million. Meanwhile, direct channels totalled $142 million.

Not every sector recorded increases, however. For example, both the extracts and unisex eau de toilette sectors posted less than fragrant results. Sales of perfume extracts fell 37.6% to $22 million, as French consumers opted for EDP and EDT, while the love affair with unisex fragrances seemed to be waning as sales dropped 15.5% to $390 million.

Trend-wise, the French moved away from the fruity, floral scents that have dominated in recent years and toward musky notes when it came to their olfactory choices. Key launches here included Annick Goutal’s Musc Nomade, part of the brand’s Les Orientalistes collection, described as a sensual, chiaroscuro scent which blends white musks ambrette, muscone and angelica with tonka bean, labdanum and Bombay wood to create a scent that is lightly powdery but not clean. Narciso Rodriguez (BPI) also used musk as the key ingredient in his latest feminine scent, Essence, and the result again is a sensual powdery scent.

Less than Fragrant

There was less good news for the German women’s fragrance market last year, with the sector only managing to grow by a tiny 0.3%—disappointing given that this is usually a very dynamic sector. According to data from IRI Germany, the market is now worth nearly $1.6 billion, up slightly from 2007. Volume also remained a slow mover growing 0.1% to 503.51 million units, although this was better news than in 2007 when it slipped 1.8%. Perfumeries accounted for just over $1 billion in sales and 201.95 million units.

German fragrance house Maurer & Wirtz, always a favorite with the domestic consumer, kept the new product launches coming with the rollout of Acqua Colonia. Inspired by nature, and referencing five olfactory variants, these scents are light and wearable for summer. The range comprises Lemon & Ginger, Lavender & Thyme, Royal Riesling, Vetyver & Bergamot and Melissa & Verbena.

Floral Favorites

The women’s fragrance market in Italy makes up an impressive 7.2% of the cosmetics and toiletries sector and in 2007 this area grew 1.2%—not a huge amount, but at least moving in the right direction. The market now totals $812 million, according to Unipro’s most recent figures, and of this the perfumery channel accounts for $710 million worth of sales. Indeed, in 2008, 84.9% of all fragrances sold in Italy (both men’s and women’s) were sold through the perfumery channel, which is no surprise as it is one of the most popular with Italian consumers.

Floral ingredients have featured in many Italian launches in the past year. As opposed to the French, Italian manufacturers still consider floral scents big news. Patchouli in particular has been at the heart of many creations. Fendi combined it with roses in Palazzo and Gucci used it with tiare flower in its Gucci by Gucci scent. Meanwhile Iris is popular too and employed by Vivara by Emilio Pucci and Prada Infusion d’Iris (Puig Italia) among others.

Taking Scents Seriously

AC Nielsen figures show that the Spanish women’s fragrance sector showed promising results for the first half of 2008, rising 3.6% to $134 million in value terms and also rising 3.1% to 722,000 liters when it came to the volume stakes. The latter proved particularly good news as volume declined in 2007, so to be on the up during times of financial uncertainty is good news indeed. The Spanish market was worth a huge $1.6 billion in total, which emphasizes just how seriously the Spaniards take how they smell. When it comes to leading companies in women’s fragrance, Puig accounts for 48% of mass market fragrance sales.

New product wise, there was much to get excited about as Puig did all it could to get consumers to part with their euros. New additions to the Puig portfolio of signature Spanish celebrity brands were Joya by Carmen Sevilla, Siento by Rosario Flores and Blue Seduction for Women by Antonio Banderas. Puig also produces fragrances for the Spanish Inditex clothing company who owns the popular Zara fashion chain. Thus, Pull Woman was created for the Pull & Bear fashion chain and Esencia, for the Massimo Dutti store.

Making an Impact

The UK women’s fragrance sector did very encouraging business in 2008, with the category surging nearly 11% to $1.1 billion last year. Volume figures also shot up 13% to 288.13 million units, according to figures from TNS Worldpanel. Taking a closer look, the UK fine fragrance division held the largest share of the market at 89.5%, increasing 11.4%.

Trend-wise, it was sharp, citrus notes that proved very popular with UK consumers. Christian Dior’s scent Escale a Portofino arrived on the UK market in the middle of last year. This was a fresh, summer scent with hints of bergamot, Italian citron and two varieties of Sicilian petitgrain (lemon tree and bitter orange) making up the formulation. Jo Malone also launched its limited edition White Tea & Tiara cologne in support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The fragrance includes rose, orange blossom and Jasmine with hints of lime and orange.

So, with the exception of the German market, women’s fragrances across the Big 5 did very well in the past year with more bottles flying off European shelves that ever before. Perhaps it is a combination of new product innovation, elegantly designed falcons and ever-slick advertising campaigns that make women’s fragrance a perpetually popular sector. Or perhaps it is the simple fact that women across Europe consider wearing a scent every day as essential as washing their hair—something they simply cannot do without. Either way, scents are here to stay!
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