The Right Mix

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | April 2, 2012

Fine fragrance came roaring back as the gift to give in 2011. Will the double-digit gains continue through Holiday 2012?

Juice alone isn’t enough to create a blockbuster. Today’s successful scents rely on the right mix of product, packaging and message. In 2011, marketers got it all right as, for the first time in years, prestige fragrance sales surged. Some industry experts credited the gain to consumers eager to discover little luxuries to keep them going in an increasingly complex world.

“Consumers view beauty as adding joy to their lives,” explained Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty analyst for The NPD Group, Port Washington, NY. “The consumer is using beauty to feel better and give themselves a little treat.”

That’s a treat that added up to $2.8 billion last year in US prestige channels, according to NPD, and represented an 11% increase in value and a 7% increase in volume.

“The fragrance industry has turned the corner and is on the right path,” insisted Mary Ellen Lapsansky, vice president, The Fragrance Foundation. “People see fragrance as something that enhances their lives, and enables them to present a certain style and attitude to the world.”

While everyone in the industry is ecstatic over the gains in 2011, a lot of people, including retailers, are scratching their heads, trying to explain the rebound in fragrances, according to Thomas Burkhardt, VP-global marketing, Calvin Klein.


Polo is always top of mind within the Ralph Lauren collection.
“It may have something to do with consumers trading down from pricier indulgences. Instead of a $500 handbag, they’re purchasing an $80 perfume,” he suggested.

What were the biggest names in fragrance last year? Here’s a look at the top five prestige scents in 2011, ranked by sales, according to NPD. In the women’s category, Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle was the leader, followed by 2. Light Blue, 3. Beautiful, 4. Chanel No. 5 and 5. Cashmere Mist.

In the men’s category, Acqua Di Gio Pour Homme was No. 1, followed by 2.Bleu De Chanel, 3. Gucci Guilty Homme, 4.Armani Code and 5.Light Blue Pour Homme.

No real surprises here, as names like Chanel and Estée Lauder dominate the top five lists. What is a bit surprising, according to NPD data, is how well big-ticket fragrances, those that retailed for $100 or more, did last year. Sales of these fragrances surged 57% in 2011 to help fuel the growth.

At the same time, the strong, high-end brands, such as Chanel and Gucci, didn’t walk away from the category. Bleu De Chanel was the biggest men’s introduction of 2010 and yet, Chanel continued to support the fragrance in 2011 enough to make it the No. 2 selling men’s scent last year.

“We’ve seen some exciting innovations in the category, which are helping to drive growth,” said Burkhardt. “People are more willing to come back to the stores when they know that they won’t see the same old stuff.”

Successful launches, he explained, must have innovative packaging, interesting olfactive notes and a compelling story behind the scent.

“Consumers are getting more demanding,” Burkhardt insisted. “A designer name, and a pretty face to promote it, isn’t enough anymore. We have to work harder to excite and energize people.”

The resurgence in sales led to a surge in the number of launches as well. In fact, the number of new women’s scents rose 33% last year. Among the standouts was Justin Bieber’s Someday fragrance from newcomer Give Back Brands.

“Coty is still the big gun when it comes to celebrity scents, but Someday just blew everybody away. It was No. 1 for weeks after it was launched,” recalled Grant. “Launches are becoming more productive. We are seeing a more concentrated effort to have a big launch and then stand behind it.”

At the same time, companies are standing behind their classic fragrances, which should help keep
them in the spotlight for years, instead of months.

“There is a new intensity coming to the category,” added Grant. “There’s a new femininity and masculinity in the market that features new tailored, refined florals for women and more full-bodied men’s fragrances in the woods family.”

This Spring, Calvin Klein is launching Sheer Beauty, which it calls a lighter floral. The scent debuted in Asia in February, in Europe last month and the US this month.

“When it comes to fragrance, one theme is that men want to smell like men and women want to smell like women,” said Burkhardt. “Fragrances are unapologetic about what they are and what they evoke.”

These sophisticated floral notes feature more surprises such as sweetness and softness than traditional florals. According to Grant, the launch of more complex scents underscores the general migration from ultra-casual to clothing with more flair and as a result, consumers are willing to spend more for their beauty products.

“Consumer confidence is still relatively low, but they want to feel good about themselves. Beauty lets them do that affordably and within budget,” she added.

While sales were sizzling in department stores last year, results were mixed in mass markets. Sales of women’s fragrances actually declined more than 5% to $293.1 million, according SymphonyIRI, Chicago. The top five women’s scents were: Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds, In Style, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, Viva La Juicy and Red Door. During that time, sales of women’s body mists fell more than 10% to $48.9 million. Meanwhile, sales of men’s traditional fragrances fell more than 5% to $173.7 million, while sales of men’s toiletries and grooming products rose 3.49% to $337.6 million. The top five men’s scents were: Curve for Men, Stetson, Drakkar Noir, Davidoff Cool Water and CK Obsession for Men.

Through it all, the number of launches is rising dramatically. According to industry consultant Michael Edwards, there were 1,200 total fragrance launches in 2011 and more are expected this year.

This Is Big
Styles and designers may come and go and come back again, but Ralph Lauren’s obsession with polo is forever. The newest play on the sport for the rich and famous is The Big Pony Collection for Women, which features four scents that capture the various mood of young women—sporty (floral citrus), sensual (floriental fruity), free-spirited (floral green) and stylish (oriental floral).

“The Big Pony Fragrances Collection for Women actually has a core audience of 18-30 year old women. This is a strong strategy for Ralph Lauren Fragrances. We’ve already been successfulwith this female audience with the Ralph by Ralph Lauren fragrance which resonated strongly with a modern and youthful woman,” explained Guillaume de Lesquen, president, Ralph Lauren Fragrances Worldwide. “This time we went back to this modern generation with a completely new approach, four fragrances instead of just one, bringing them choice and change in a playful and colorful way.”

He noted that the Big Pony Collection was designed as a team of fragrances. Its heritage is in the four players of a polo team, which is in sync with the Ralph Lauren world.

“We took this concept and applied it to the lifestyle of a new generation, identifying four key facets of modern women,” explained de Lesquen. “We believe four fragrances are the best approach to express our concept of ‘multi-faceted femininity’ and to achieve success. We do expect women to purchase more than one fragrance since they’re built to tandem with our customers’ lifestyles.”

de Lesquen said The Big Pony Collection complements women’s fashion and lifestyles, is customizable for their activities, has a place at work and on the weekend, day andnight, allowing self-expression in a multitude of ways. In testing, consumers responded very positively to having a fragrance wardrobe and appreciated the acknowledgement of their dynamic lifestyles, according to de Lesquen.

Each 100ml bottle retails for $70. The fragrances debuted in Bloomingdales in March, before rolling out to most department stores this month.

The Fragrance Leader
For years, Coty has called itself the world’s leading fragrance house and the company expects to build on that lead with the launch of several new scents including Truth or Dare by Madonna. The 2.5oz EDP ($68) debuts at Macy’s this month. The scent, which is said to capture the duality of light and dark within all of us, includes topnotes of gardenia, tuberose and neroli; midnotes of jasmine, benzoin and white lily and a base of vanilla, amber and musk. The launch coincides with the debut of Madonna’s new album and a tour that begins next month.

Madonna, that 80s icon, is still on a tear with the new Truth or Dare fragrance.

Truth or Dare is just one of the new scents from Coty. Others include L’eau de Chloe ($85, 100ml), a rose-based scent that includes top notes of grapefruit, cedrat and peach; middle notes of violet and rose and a base of cedarwood, patchouli and amber. The fragrance debuted in specialty stores in February.

Later this year, Coty will introduce a scent for Lady Gaga that promises to be as outrageous as the performer herself. Early reports described the scent as being a combination of blood and semen!

“The smart use of celebrities is a continuing trend,” explained Burkhardt. “When it is done well and the celebrity matches the brand, it carries weight with the consumer.”

Who can forgetthe first time Bruce Willis muttered, “Yippee Kai Yay?” But the “Die Hard” star will unveil his softer side with the May introduction of Lovingly by Bruce Willis. The scent, available in Europe, is billed as a declaration of love to his wife, Emma Heming-Willis.

Also new in specialty stores is Roberto Cavalli ($85, 75ml). Described as an amber floral, the scent includes notes of pink peppercorn, orange flower absolute and roasted tonka beans; all of them housed in a curved bottle that’s topped with a tiara cap.

A new bouquet of Daisies from Marc Jacobs.
Coty hopes a new bouquet of daisies will lift its eponymous franchise. Daisy Marc Jacobs Eau So Fresh features topnotes of wild strawberry, violet leaves, ruby red grapefruit, gardenia and musk. Daisy Eau So Fresh includes ruby red grapefruit, while rose and plum notes. Both debut this month in specialty stores nationwide. The 20ml EDT retails for $59.

As the temperature rises, marketers are counting on limited edition fragrances to bolster sales during the warm summer months. For example, Calvin Klein is back with CK One Summer as well Eternity Summer and Eternity for Men Summer.

Coty isn’t the only fragrance house that’s betting on summer. Guess is rolling out Guess Seductive Sunkissed, a lightweight fragrance that reportedly adds a fresh twist to the timeless Guess Seductive eau de toilette. Capturing the carefree spirit of summer, the scent opens with notes of pear, raspberry, pink grapefruit and black current blossom, which give way to Brazilian orchid, jasmine and vanilla. The 1.7oz. scent retails for $52.

Specialty Store Winners

L’Occitane’s new Pivoine Delicate.
While prestige results are sizzling and mass-market sales are hurting, specialty stores continue to find their audience. L’Occitane en Provence is one such purveyor of fine fragrance and this month, the company is rolling out Pivoine Delicate EDT ($45). The scent includes top notes of citrus and velvety white peach; a heart of rose, peony and lily of the valley and a base of white musk and light woods.

From Lavanila Laboratories’ point of view, there’s no such thing as plain vanilla. Lavanila is rolling out Healthy Fragrances, a five SKU line that blends vanilla with a variety of fruits and botanicals such as goji berries, kakadu plum, olive leaf extract and Canadian willowherb. The end result, according to the company, is five intoxicating, warm scents that each retail for $58. They include Vanilla Passion Fruit, Vanilla Lavender, Vanilla Grapefruit, Vanilla Coconut and Pure Vanilla. All are available at Sephora as well as online at Sephora.com and lavanila.com.

Better than chocolate: Lavanila Laboratories offers a wide range of vanilla-based scents.

Nine West hopes the shoe fits with its Love Fury launch.
New to the fragrance game is Nine West, the well-known shoe and accessories retailer that’s a member of The Jones Group. In January, Nine West introduced Love Fury, which contains notes of fresh fruit, florals, woods and amber, all housed in a stiletto heel-shaped bottle. A 3.4oz. EDT retails for $55. The fragrance is manufactured and distributed by Inter Parfums.

While the multinationals fight over share in department stores, smaller companies are creating novel scents and campaigns for consumers who are looking for unique fragrance experiences, noted Lapsansky.

“Launches in niche markets dare to be different in terms of juice and packaging and they send a different message to the consumer,” said Lapsansky, who noted that the 2012 FiFi Awards will be held May 21 at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York.

The newest offering from Bath & Body Works is Fine Fragrance Mist in Pink Chiffon. The fragrance retails for $14 and includes a blend of sparkling red pear, vanilla orchid and whipped chiffon musk.

On the topic of pink, Soap & Glory is tickled to roll out Original Pink EDP. The floral-chypre scent includes Soap & Glory’s signature rose and bergamot scent with top notes of orange leaf, lemon, peach and sweet strawberries. Its sparkling heart features mandarin, summer rose, gardenia blooms and jasmine. The base includes patchouli, warm amber and lush musks.

I Love New York

West side story: Bond New York celebrates a celebrated NY thoroughfare.
Whether its the Bronx or the Battery, the Eastside or the Westside, the folks at Bond No. 9 know New York City better than anybody and the fragrance house’s latest scent celebrates Central Park West, that 2.5 mile stretch of road that runs the length of Central Park itself. CPW is home to some of the most palatial addresses in Manhattan such as the Dakota and the San Remo. To capture the essence of CPW, the scent opens with narcissus, ylang ylang and pepper. The heart features orris, jasmine and linden and gardenia and the base includes white oak, vetiver and musk. The collection includes fragrance, body silk, candle and shower gel and ranges in price from $75 to $250.

Nobody personifies the brashness of New York City better than Donald Trump. The billionaire developer may not control the deals like he did in the 1990s, but that’s not stopping Five Star Fragrance from rolling out Success by Trump, which is billed as an “empowering scent,” with topnotes of juniper and iced red currant; middle notes of ginger, bamboo and geranium and bottom notes of vetiver, tonka bean, birch wood and musk.

Success by Trumpdebuted at Macy’s last month.The four-piece collection includes 1.7- and 3.4oz fragrances, aftershave splash and deodorant stick. Retail prices range from$14 to $55.

A Marvel-ous Launch
Nearly 40 years ago, “Jaws” ushered in the idea of the summer blockbuster movie. Today, Hollywood has replaced sharks with comic book heroes and next month, Marvel’s “The Avengers” will hit theaters. To complement the launch, JADS International LLC is introducing Marvel prestige colognes and perfumes this month. The Avengers cologne set features four fragrances: Patriot (inspired by Captain America), Mark VII (Iron Man); Worthy (Thor) and Smash! (Hulk).

JADS has been manufacturing private label fragrances for nearly four years and during that time has marketed scents under the Star Trek license too. But The Avengers marks the first time JADS has been directly linked with a movie launch, which fits in well with the company’s plans, according to CEO Andrew Levine.

“You don’t have to be into comic books or the geek world to understand the launch,” explained Levine.
“The Avengers customer is anybody who goes to the movies.”

But, at $40 each, are the scents beyond the reach of the typical comic book fan?

“These are very high end fragrances; we use very expensive oils to create the scents,” insisted Levine.

The Avengers colognes, which debuted at Toy Fair 2012 in New York City, are available online at www.jadsinternational.com and the company is working on distribution with Diamond Distributing.

The Avengers aside, JADS markets Black Widow perfume, Infinity Formula cologne and Mischief cologne, and has fragrances geared especially for women in the works.

“The Marvel project was very enjoyable and it enabled us to find out just how strong this market can be,” explained Levine. “It’s a niche market that’s not big enough for the big players, but it is lucrative for midsized companies like us. It’s a lot of fun.”

What’s To Come
Looking ahead, Burkhardt expects fragrance sales will rise in the high single digits this year. After all, he pointed out that the US economy is growing, Europe appears to be on the mend and demand in emerging markets has been stellar. That is, of course, if marketers can find the right mix of juice, packaging, marketing and message.

“It’s not enough to have a great fragrance or a great celebrity behind your fragrance,” observed Grant. “Today, you need a multi-faceted effort to stand out and that’s what drove the Someday fragrance.”

With so many new SKUs hitting store shelves this Spring, there are a lot of perfumery houses hoping that their someday comes today, rather than tomorrow.

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