Positive Visualization

By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor | April 1, 2014

Artisan ingredients and novel presentation inspire marketers to boost business in the fine fragrance arena.

Value means much more than price—especially when the category is fine fragrance. In a year when the US prestige beauty industry as a whole grew 5% in dollar sales to $10.7 billion, prestige fragrance sales remained flat in 2013 at $2.0 billion, according to The NPD Group. But while sales for the total prestige fragrance category stalled, fragrances priced $100 and above grew 30% in dollars, found NPD in its studies.

In a segment primarily driven by gift sets, the fragrance market is seeing more success lately with innovations in juices, noted Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty industry analyst at NPD.

“The couture and designer fragrances are showing more sophisticated scents inspired by the artisanal,” Grant told Happi in an interview. “We are seeing both more woodsy and more traditional elements.”

Fragrance marketers are also “dialing up” launches with more individual notes like rose or jasmine in the fragrance profiles, added Grant.

In the mass market fragrance category for the 52-week period ending Jan. 26, 2014, women’s fragrance sales fell 6.6% to $474.2 million and women’s body mists plummeted 20.3% to $121.2 million in total US multi-outlets (supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains), according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. Men’s cologne sales fell 5.3% to $310.9 million while sales of men’s body mists were flat at $217.9 million. However, sales of fragrance toiletries and grooming increased 2% to $1.4 billion.

In fine fragrance, new packaging featuring smaller pack sizes and items suitable for travel are also on trend, observed Euromonitor in its recent report, “Fragrances in the US.” Companies are introducing smaller sizes in order to offer more affordable price points, and in recognition that today’s fragrance consumers like to have a fragrance “wardrobe” instead of using only a few scents. As a result, many of the launches targeting young women are being introduced in smaller sizes.

“Shoppers are looking to test out different fragrances before they invest in the full size,” noted Casey Casterline, co-founder of New York-based eDivv.com, a beauty box trading website for consumers.

 Home shopping is also becoming a popular way to purchase fragrances, noted Euromonitor in its report. Recently, major fragrance companies such as Coty, Elizabeth Arden and L’Oréal entered the sales space. Lisa Hoffman of Lisa Hoffman Beauty, a prestige brand with a following on HSN and traditional retail locations, explained the secret to her success. 

“Today, the average consumer is more savvy and educated than ever before. In addition to liking the olfactive character of a fragrance, consumers are also looking for an emotional connection and want to understand the story behind the fragrance they choose. They want to know the story behind the creation and the craftsmanship that goes into it; blogs and social media play an integral part in educating the consumer.”

For example, Aerin at Estée Lauder is rolling out a new monogram campaign this spring online. The stand-alone microsite, www.aerinfragrance.com, allows users to experience the Aerin fragrance collection, learn about fragrances, watch videos, shop and design their own monogram or message to share online.

Shoppers are also searching for new and exotic experiences, observed Stacy Brown, a fragrance designer at fragrance brand Thymes.

“With the development of multi-culturalism, there are new worlds and exciting traditions to explore,” said Brown. “From Indian spices to the tropical fruits of the Amazon and Caribbean, to the Middle Eastern flavorings of turmeric and sumac, shoppers want to learn more and are demanding new ingredients. At Thymes, our philosophy is to blend the exotic notes with familiar to create both emotion and curiosity.”

Expanding on the Classics
Despite a multitude of new scent stories flooding the market each year, classic, well-established fragrances remain the top sellers, according to Euromonitor research, which noted Chanel N°5, Beautiful and Donna Karan Cashmere Mist in women’s fragrances, and Acqua di Giò pour Homme, Armani Code and Eternity for Men in men’s fragrances are perennial best-seller.

Grant of NPD added that the recent men’s launch at Polo, Polo Red, was noteworthy for its marketing campaign that resonated within the fine fragrance domain. The woody/spicy fragrance features a mix of red saffron, fresh red grapefruit and deep red wood—making it a truly “red” fragrance, according to the company. Taking inspiration from Ralph Lauren’s prestigious car collection, Polo Red’s opaque, high-gloss bottle imitates the sleek curves of an automobile too.

Another heavy hitter in the arena, Estée Lauder ushers in the spring season with a new sparkling fragrance, Pleasures Flower eau de parfum. According to the company, this vibrant fruity floral fragrance celebrates the creative, spontaneous and free-spirited nature of a modern flower girl. It opens with bergamot, neroli and mandarin, which blend with cassis buds and a leafy green note for a burst of freshness; the middle is a vibrant peony and rose blossom with pink muguet, jasmine and a splash of coconut water. It concludes with ambrox and vetiver. The packaging features a playful, silk-screened floral print inspired by the bold and irreverent style of pop artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

Florals are also big right now at Bond No. 9 too—and the more exceptional, the better. According to Laurice Rahme founder and owner of the company, “Shoppers are looking for more and more unique scents, creative top notes and long-lasting on the skin. Creating a superb fragrance is like a love story—it is a process of dialogue, shared vision, trust, and the collective desire to create something unique and spectacular.”

For Spring 2014, Bond No. 9 Hudson Yards is billed as a luminous mélange of dewy petals piled upon petals. It starts with an attention-grabbing lily of the valley, mingled with fresh freesia and piquant pink peppercorns and smoothly transits into its middle-range notes: a dewy floral bouquet of peony buds and Bulgarian rose and lychee. Base notes include a woody-citrusy orange flower, iris absolute and white musk.

For men, spicy citruses are the top trend, added Rahme. Bond’s newest fragrance for men, The Scent of Peace For Him, features classic bergamot, pineapple, black currant, cedarwood and patchouli, to name a few components.

Also targeting the male clientele, one of the leading launches at Parlux comes from fashion designer Kenneth Cole. Renowned for his wit and provocative play on words, Cole’s Mankind is a new fragrance for men, which celebrates the evolution of the modern man, according to the company. Claude Dir, perfumer at Givaudan, and Parlux Ltd. in collaboration with Kenneth Cole, created the “bold aromatic scent.” The packaging is encased with leather and affixed with chrome bolts, personally selected by Cole himself. 

Coty, likewise, is bulking up its portfolio this Spring with a variety of line extensions—look for rollouts from Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Bottega Veneta and Vera Wang, to name a few. A luminous bouquet of fresh-picked florals, Daisy Delight Edition is touted as a “vibrant expression” of Daisy signature. The fragrance blooms into a burst of quince flower and iris, brightened with crisp red apple. Sun-ripened woods and musks dry down to a warm embrace.

Bottega Veneta Essence Aromatique is a unique new fragrance inspired by the generosity of cologne and constructed with the finest of essences, according to the company. Fresh at first, this unexpectedly new interpretation of a classic cologne reveals richer notes, making it feminine, more centered. A refreshing yet warm and delicate ambery scent captivates the senses. First impressions of an aromatic breeze are followed by refined, rounded notes.

Meanwhile, billed as refreshingly light and radiant, Endless Euphoria Calvin Klein translates the iconic Euphoria fragrance into a “sunlit daydream filled with cherry blossoms and an air of sheer sensuality,” said sources at Coty. It opens with a breeze of cherry blossoms, tipped with mandarin and bergamot. The heart blooms with floral notes of violet, pastel rose and syringa. At the base is bamboo, sandalwood and bare musk.

The newest Vera Wang fragrance, which is big at Kohl’s, is Be Jeweled Rouge. This floriental is said to capture the feeling of “painting the town red” with a close group of girlfriends. Red currants and wild berries burst with fun, as the floral heart blooms with creamy vanilla orchid, adding a glamorous touch. An addictive and lasting impression lingers with a layer of creamy praline wrapped in cashmere woods.

Boldface Names
Besides compelling notes in the juice, other celebrity and designer EDPs, EDCs and EDTs always have a place in the fine fragrance fray. Euromonitor found that recent new product development focused on designer fragrances, brand extensions and celebrity fragrances. Brand extensions remain a popular way for manufacturers to introduce new fragrances with less risk and marketing spend than launching a totally new brand. Notable expansions include Burberry Body Rose Gold, Chanel Coco Noir and Gucci The Flora Garden Collection.

Celebrity fragrances continued to be a popular way to target younger consumers too. Fragrance companies continued to add new endorsers such as Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj. Boy band One Direction is also expanding on its original fragrance, adding notes like green apple and violet, while Katy Perry Killer Queen is a huge seller at Coty.  A “sheer” version of this fragrance is set to bow this summer.

Not all celebrity fragrances are geared toward young consumers, however, as fragrances fronted by Madonna and Jon Bon Jovi appeal to older consumers and their nostalgia for their young adult years, according to Euromonitor.

This Valentine’s Day, Avon launched Avon Instinct for Her and Him with actress Megan Fox as the face of the scents. Instinct for Her features woody-floral notes such as fresh mandarin, sparkling greens and tropical star fruit. Camellia, peony and elegant water lily deliver a floral bouquet; blonde woods, sandalwood and radiant amber leave lingering warmth. Meanwhile, Instinct for Him contains lush bamboo, exotic spices and Brazilian mandarin over rosewood, mahogany and herbaceous sage.

Another celebrity launch at Avon was an addition to the Fergie collection. Joining Outspoken and Outspoken Intense was Viva, designed to empower the fearless woman within, celebrating femininity. The spirited scent reveals cool herbs, lavender and vetiver to add depth.

Designer names are still in fashion this year, as seen at fine fragrance leader Inter Parfums. According to CEO Jean Madar, “We are very enthusiastic about 2014 which is shaping up to be one our largest new product launch years in our history on both sides of the Atlantic with new scents rolling out for Balmain, Jimmy Choo, S.T. Dupont, Alfred Dunhill, Shanghai Tang and Agent Provocateur.”

According to Madar, broad-based distributions are also planned for the new Montblanc men’s fragrance Emblem, which is coming to market this spring as are the first men’s and women’s scents for the highly-anticipated Karl Lagerfeld brand.

Another designer staple, Tory Burch Beauty by Estée Lauder, recently added a special-edition Tory Burch eau de parfum rollerball, a purse-size version of the designer’s signature fragrance.

Fifty percent of the purchase price of this item will be donated to the Tory Burch Foundation, which supports the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs and their families in the US.

The Tory Burch EDP, which launched in the US in September 2013, is a blend of feminine florals (peony, tuberose, jasmine sambac and sweet alyssum), crisp citrus and fruit (grapefruit, mandarin, bergamot, cassis and neroli) and warm woods (cedar and sandalwood) including earthy vetiver, a signature note in the scent.

“This is a brand to watch,” noted Grant of NPD. “The product positioning of past launches were great, and the packaging is so Tory.”

Victoria’s Secret is also capitalizing on the popularity of florals for Spring 2014 with Bombshells in Bloom, its latest fragrance collection. It includes a solid fragrance ring for touch-ups throughout the day along with an EDP, mist and lotion too. Notes include pink freesia, red apple and water lily.

The bottle even features a textural embellishment to match the floral theme.

Making Scents of the Future
According to Mintel research, consumers are just beginning to express a desire for fragrances that offer more practical, unique benefits—not just a great scent. The market research firm contends there’s growing demand for more distinct, non-traditional uses on the fragrance front. 

“New forms and benefits attract interest from consumers, primarily driven by women and younger consumers, which stands to reason as these groups tend to be more engaged in the category overall. However, since  fine fragrances  in  particular  tend  to  be   viewed as occasional use items, added benefits could help to increase usage.

Future growth will likely come from users ‘trading up’ to more expensive variants, ancillary items, and innovative new product formats and benefits,” said Shannon Romanowski, beauty and personal care analyst at Mintel, Chicago.

Artisanal brands like Killian, Jo Malone, Clive Christian and Bond No. 9 are ones to watch for 2014 and beyond, observed Grant of NPD, as “the perfumer is the celebrity.”

“Artisanal marketers are carving out new ground with scents,” Grant explained.

Hoffman agrees that perfumers are pushing the boundaries of consumer preference by offering new scents using rare and unique ingredients. Consumers, she said, are also hungry for creative packaging and innovation in application.

“The need to surprise and excite consumers is constant,” Hoffman told Happi. “Also the heritage and the craftsmanship placed on the art of creating a fragrance has become front and center as consumers are looking for an authentic fragrance story; an interest I believe will continue to grow in the future.”

Is this the future of fine fragrance?

Customized scents are developed at The Scentsorium, the latest concept from Sue Phillips.

• Have it your way. The idea has worked for that hamburger chain for 70 years and what works for fast food can work for fragrance too, according to Sue Phillips, an industry veteran who has created fragrances for Tiffany, Burberry and others. Now, Phillips is creating fragrances for individual consumers as the founder of The Scentsorium, a custom perfume house. The Scentsorium, located in New York City’s TriBeCa section, had an opening reception in February.

“More people want to express themselves with customization; it’s happening in totebags, sneakers, even M&Ms,” observed Phillips. “Consumers want the same with fragrance.”

The Scentsorium delivers that customization in a warm, intimate setting. Guests step off a sidestreet in TriBeCa and enter a world far removed from Manhattan. The space is filled with images and mementos that are near and dear to Phillips—especially her mother’s paintings which adorn the walls of The Scentsorium. Within this comfortable environment, guests fill out a questionnaire to determine their preference for woody, fresh, floral or oriental notes. After a brief discourse of fragrance composition and construction, guests sample fragrance notes, select a few they like best and Phillips blends them all while-you-wait, decants the scents, labels it and even stores the unique concoction for future purchase.

All in all, it’s something entirely different than what a shopper experiences at a department store fragrance counter, which, during the past decade, has become more like Hollywood Boulevard where people step on and over long-forgotten stars in the hopes of finding a new one.

“The celebrity fragrance business is in a downturn, people are tired of it,” insisted Phillips. “People don’t want to wear the same fragrances as everybody else, and so many of them cause headaches for consumers because the quality is so bad.”

Quality is key for Phillips, who maintains that creating and wearing a bespoke fragrance, created from the world’s finest perfume blends, is more than just an affordable luxury; she calls it an “experi-sense” that lasts a lifetime.

“Today, people want an experience and they want a fragrance that reflects their personality.”

They can find both at The Scentsorium.

—Tom Branna