News From Latin America

Why Brazil’s Still on Top of the Fragrance World

By Daniela Ferreira, Correspondent | June 2, 2014

Fragrance is big business in Latin America, especially in Brazil, which is the No. 1 market for scents in the world. With annual sales of about $7 billion, Brazil accounts for more than 15% of global fragrance sales. In Latin America, Brazil represents 56% by value; followed by Argentina and Mexico. In the past five years, Brazilian fragrance sales rose 67.8% while Latin American sales increased 58.5%, according to Euromonitor. The strong growth was supported by many factors, including rising disposable income levels, advertising campaigns during seasonal events and the shift in consumption from low-concentration mass fragrances (widely used in the northeast region in Brazil) to mid-price or better quality fragrances.

Scent is embedded in Brazilian culture, especially in the north and northeast regions, where consumers may use fragrance as much as three times a day. In these regions, the income of people has increased thanks to the government’s social programs, tourism and industrial expansion. The northeast is the most important market for mass fragrances, due to the emerging middle class. In fact, 89% of Brazilians apply fragrance, according to ABIHPEC (Brazilian Association of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Industry. Regionally, the north/northeast has the highest penetration with 95%. Besides that, 60% of Brazilians use fragrances, while in the northeast the percentage is nearly 90%. In the south, however, the percentage drops to 40%.

The Biggest Players
O Boticário and Natura lead the way in Brazil. Both rely on new products and advertising campaigns, mainly on commemorative dates, to promote their scents. In 2013, O Boticário reached the leadership in Brazilian market of perfumery, with 28.8% market share while Natura has 27.7% and Avon Brazil has 8.4%. In the past year, Boticário’s sales grew 10% and reached $3.3 billion, through 3,650 stores in more than 1,700 cities. At present, the company offers 100 fragrances, including top-sellers such as Linda, Lily, Floratta, Egeo, Malbec, Quasar and  Zaad e Arbo. O Boticário launches, on average, 20 fragrances a year, including line items and limited editions. In Latin America, O Boticário has 10 stores in Venezuela and four in Paraguay.

Who is the Consumer?
According to Flavia Motta, global marketing insights, Givaudan, Brazilian consumers and Latinos, as a whole, are passionate about fragrances. Although their vocabulary is still restricted to describe this passion, they speak vibrantly and warmly when talking about their connection to fragrance. Due to the tropical climate, Brazilians shower a lot, often three times a day, especially in the north and northeastern sections. They use fragrances as a way of signaling, in many cases, their personal hygiene; there’s even an expression,  “I am poor, but I’m pretty clean.” The extension of the bath is just one of the factors whereby Brazilians perfume themselves.

A recent Givaudan survey found that fragrance use in Latin America is motivated by sexuality, especially in Brazil (Recife 70% and São Paulo 63% of respondents) and Mexico (65%), and slightly lower but still significant in Colombia (54%) and Argentina (46%).
Motta explained that elegance and sophistication conferred by a particular brand is another reason why consumers choose a fragrance. That consumer sentiment is strongest  in Brazil (Sao Paulo 32% and Recife 19%) and Colombia (19%), while Argentina and Mexico trail at 11% and 4%, respectively. Price is no object, at least in Brazil, where purchasing power is on the rise and is most evident in São Paulo, where just 5% of survey respondents said price plays a role in their fragrance purchasing decisions.
In contrast, 43% of Argentines, 31% of Mexicans and 28% of Colombians said price is important.

Premium vs. Mass
Although mass accounts for the largest share of the market in value terms, premium sales rose too, driven by new products as well as the development of better distribution channels. In Brazil, 6% of all premium fragrances are sold online, led by LVMH. During the past five years (2008-2013), premium sales grew 69%, mass grew 68% and in whole of Latin America, the growth was 65% and 56%, respectively, according to Euromonitor. Top international fragrances in Brazil are Carolina Herrera 212 Vip, Azzaro pour Homme and  J´Adore Christian Dior.

“Premiumization” is taking hold in Brazil, said Luciana Knobel, creative fragrance, Givaudan Brazil. She explained that consumers are trading in their splashes to experiment with new forms of perfuming, such as deo cologne (equivalent to EDTs, EDPs). With that, there is a great need for information. Big manufacturers are educating their customers and explaining details about their launches, concepts and content like never before. This shift in consumer habits is stronger in Brazil than in other Latin American countries. In Mexico, for example, the focus is much more on products for young people and more affordable prices.

According to Mariana Gonçales, LATAM marketing, Givaudan Fine Fragrance, the arrival of new prestige brands and investment by Brazilian brands has led consumers to demand better fragrances.

For international brands, one way to get in on the fragrance frenzy is through beauty cosmetic shops, such as Sephora, which offers international fragrances at prices that are three times more expensive than other countries, but give consumers the option of installment payments. Or, international brands may choose the direct sales route similar to the deal recently struck between Avon and Coty. Yet, according Gonçales, local brands are still expected to lead category growth for the next several years. Local producers avoid many of Brazil’s high taxes and have a good understanding of Brazil’s distribution channels

Brazil and Latin America were, historically, considered fine fragrances and consumer goods trend followers, especially of European trends, according to Helen Augusto LATAM fragrance communication, Givaudan. In the past decade, however, Brazil and other Latin American countries emerged as a source of inspiration to the rest of the world, introducing new ingredients in perfumery and expanding a colorful and vibrant culture, in a warm and unpretentious way. The new Millennium sparked an interest in our roots, seeds, leaves and fruits—common to us, but considered exotic by foreigners. Some of these ingredients, such as açai, Brazil nuts, passion fruit, and the less well-known priprioca, breu branco and estoraque, have found an eager audience in the US and Europe. Brazil and its biomes (including the Panamazonica region which encompasses several countries) have even more ingredients and olfactive innovations to offer.

Male/Female Fragrances
Years ago, Brazilian women preferred male fragrances. Today, however, with so many fragrances to call their own, women and children too have many choices. According to Knobel, the most intense female fragrances explore more obvious floral notes while, on the other hand, male fragrances tend to have more woody and leather notes, along with amber, which promotes a sensual virility.

“In the past, there was a large proportion of women using men’s fragrances, but at present we find a greater diversity of female products which exploit notes as wood, spices and citrus, which previously were more common in men’s fragrances,” she explained.

And yet, in their search for intense freshness, some women feel most comfortable wearing men’s fragrances that carry indicators of freshness and cleanliness in their olfactory signature, said Gisele Souza, LATAM marketing, Givaudan Fine Fragrance.

The Olfactory Families
The 2000s brought a taste for the fruity floral and oriental gourmands to Brazil and Latin America, but there is no consensus among LATAM consumers, according to Helen Augusto, LATAM fragrance communication, Givaudan. Brazilians reject some notes, such as heavy white flowers, intense tuberose and very traditional chypres with much patchouli; but they accept these notes when used in a multifaceted way.

According to Knobel, the entry of new retail chains in Brazil and other Latin American countries, exposed consumers to international products that often have a higher concentration of fragrance. This exposure created more demanding consumers who are open to new olfactory proposals that remain unexploited by local manufacturers. One example is the opulent floral, which had been considered heavy by the Brazilian consumer and gradually has been gaining a captive audience that appreciates women’s fragrances with lots of personality. Or the fragrances belonged to chypre family, whose structure merges intense and pink woods for a sophisticated and elegant signature.

Brazilians’ hunger for fragrance remains unsatiated. Helped along by a broad base of consumers seeking new experiences and by a young population with more purchasing power, the fragrance market still has plenty of headspace for growth.

Daniela Ferreira
Mobile: 55-11-993880867

Daniela Ferreira is a marketing and communication professional in both consumer and B2B cosmetic markets. With a degree in social communication and postgraduate work in business administration, her expertise includes managing and launching products, communication planning, market studies and analysis, and identifying new business opportunities. She also has beauty blog (, and is a makeup artist and image consultant.