Women’s Fragrances: A Mixed Bouquet

By Katie Middleweek, Editor, European Cosmetic Markets | April 29, 2010

It was a very mixed year for the women’s fragrance market across Europe with the effects of the recession really being felt in some areas. Among the Big 5 markets, the UK and Germany were the only two to make gains in value terms while France, Italy and Spain all posted losses. These losses, however, were only relatively slender so there is still hope that things will pick up as this year continues. On a more positive note, the launch pace remains strong in all Big 5 countries, with manufacturers more desperate than ever to lure in customers.

Testing Times

Although sales have been affected in the women’s fragrance market in France, the situation is far from grave as value sales only declined by a minute 0.6% in 2009, according to data from NPD France. Though this was slightly more worrying in volume terms, as unit sales took a 2.8% tumble. Industry insiders however say that the women’s fragrance market in the country, which is valued at an estimated $2.6 billion, still remains relatively stable and a good launch pace keep spirits high.

New product wise, French stalwart Givenchy has revisited its couture spirit with the launch of Eaudemoiselle. The fragrance is dominated by Turkish rose, blended with mandarin, Italian lemon and Japanese basil for a floral/musky effect. A dramatic advertising campaign further depicts the brand’s aristocratic values by featuring Polish supermodel and Givenchy ambassador, Magdalena Frackowiak, wearing a striking, floor length black cape in the French garden of a château.

Mass Market Movement

After a static 2008, where it grew by a very lackluster 0.3%, 2009 proved a much more fragrant year in Germany. According to data from IRI Germany, the market grew an encouraging 2.3% to $1.5 billion last year. Meanwhile the volume increase remained a slender 0.4%, because the market remained fairly static at 51.31 million units, compared with 51.11 million units the year before. The mass market in Germany remains an increasingly popular place to purchase fragrance and recognizing this, manufacturers have decided to keep launch pace high in this area.

XX by Mexx, a new fragrance duo launched in March this year, is described as a pair of flirty, adventurous fragrances. The female version XX by Mexx Lovesome (the male variant is called XX by Mexx Mysterious) opens with fruity top notes of juicy pear and blackberry accented with raspberry leaf. The heart contains freesia and opulent white flowers combined with green leaves and the base is composed of vanilla, sandalwood and musk. Meanwhile Coty fragrance Kate Moss Wild Meadow also came out this spring and is the first of a range of limited edition scents based on different journeys made by the supermodel herself. Wild Meadow is supposed to evoke a fresh spring morning in the Cotswolds, where she owns a home, and is fresh and feminine, with top notes of bergamot, pink grapefruit and peach, a heart of rose, magnolia and honeysuckle and a base of apple wood and amber.

Staying Static

According to industry body Unipro, the women’s fragrance sector in Italy in 2009 stood at approximately $764 million, representing 7.4% of the entire cosmetics and toiletries market in the country. However, economic constraints did take their toll and the market value slipped by 0.5% last year. In terms of retail channels, perfumeries were once again the Italian retail outlet of choice with an enormous $665 million worth of sales coming via this route. The remaining sales came through the less popular department store channel.

When it came to new launches, Italian stalwart Versace debuted its new Versense fragrance, said to evoke feelings of nature and freedom. The fragrance has a strong Mediterranean formula with bergamot and green mandarin as top notes, which are said to give the fragrance a touch of naturalness and spontaneous freshness. The heart of cardamom and sea lily dries down to a base of cedarwood and sandalwood. Together with the fragrance, Versace has also launched a corresponding bath line featuring a Versense deodorant, bath and shower gel and a body lotion.

Scent Slippage

The Spanish women’s fragrance market had little to smile about in the first half of 2009 when, according to AC Nielsen, sales in this sector fell by a worrying 3% in value sales and 4% in volume sales. The most recent results from a Stanpa report released last year, said the whole women’s fragrance market was worth $1.48 billion, a decline from the $1.64 billion it totaled the previous year, while the overall market share of women’s fragrances also dipped slightly from a 22.8% share to 22.2%.

It will come as little surprise to hear that the Spanish fragrance market is dominated largely by the Puig Group, based in Barcelona. Puig-owned Nina Ricci has enjoyed great success with her Ricci Ricci fragrance, launched in Spain last September. In addition to this core brand, Puig relies on a wide portfolio of designer labels which not only includes the Italian fashion group Prada and the Japanese Comme des Garçon but also popular Spanish labels such as Adolfo Domínguez, Victorio & Lucchino, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada as well as the giant clothing retailers, Zara, Massimo Dutti and Mango. Although fans of international brands, the Spanish are loyal consumers and often prefer to buy domestic wares when possible.

Striking the Right Notes

The UK market came up smelling of roses in 2009 as, according to industry body Kantar Worldpanel, it put on a healthy 3.6% boosting it to $981.4 million. Despite this decent growth in value terms, this was not reflected volume wise, as there was definite apathy here—units sold rose by a lowly 0.2% which took it from 28.82 million units in 2008 to 28.88 million units last year. Retail-wise in the UK there were few surprises as high street retailer Boots dominated, followed by The Perfume Shop, Debenhams, duty free outlets and Superdrug respectively.

One launch stood out in the UK market as being of particularly British vintage. UK brand Jo Malone, now owned by Estée Lauder, debuted its newVanilla & Anise last summer, which was based on ingredients from Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The scent has top notes of Sicilian bergamot and star anise, a heart of oleander and purple vanilla orchid and base notes of Madagascar clove, white amber and vanilla bourbon absolute.

On the whole it was a year of highs and lows for this sector in the past year—effects of the credit crunch were definitely felt and this has been reflected in value and volume sales declining in some areas. Having said that, female consumers will always want to buy fragrances and they will often go without other C&T luxuries in order to facilitate this. While this mindset still exists, and in Europe it does, there is always reason to remain cheerful about a sector that means so much to so many people.
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European Cosmetic Markets is published monthly by HPCi Media Limited. It provides in-depth data and analysis of the European cosmetics and toiletries market. For subscription details contact HPCi Media Limited, London, UK. Tel: (44) 0207 193 7447 • Fax: (44) 20 7549 8622