Boldface Names Lift Fine Fragrance Sales

Can celebrity and fashion-forward juices add a glimmer of hope to the flailing fragrance category?


By: Melissa Meisel

Boldface Names Lift Fine Fragrance Sales

Fergie. Beyonce. Britney. Queen Latifah. Jessica Simpson. Gwen Stefani. Boldface names in entertainment news, but also this season’s leading celebrity fragrance rollouts. Then there’s Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Kate Spade—all fashion designers, but also Holiday 2010’s hottest scent releases.

This season, marketers are hoping a fragrance attached to a celebrity or fashion designer—two captivating topics that sell millions of tabloid magazines and keep the gossip blogs buzzing daily—will boost sales in the wake of The Great Recession. Expansions into fragrance from skin care marketers as well as custom-blended, limited-edition juices are also au courant this season.

Why? Simply put, they have to be. According beauty market research conducted by The NPD Group, Inc., sales of fragrance totaled $2.48 billion in 2009—a decline of 10% in both men’s and women’s scents. One subsegment that performed slightly better was gift sets—which dropped the least—down 8% in women’s and 5% in men’s. This was offset somewhat by the increase in average price, reaching an average of $64.50 for both genders.


Gwen Stefani’s latest Harajuku Girls release is the Wicked Style collection at Sephora.
“The beleaguered fragrance market took an even harder hit in 2009 than it did in 2008, when we started to see serious decline,” noted Nancy Mills, industry manager for Kline’s Consumer Products practice. “There are a number of factors contributing to this, including fragrances losing their appeal as gifts and an over-crowded selection leading to consumer confusion.”

According to Carrie Lennard, beauty and personal care analyst, Euromonitor, London, as consumers opted to cut spending on fragrances, many manufacturers have carefully chosen “lower risk” strategies for new product innovations.

“Brand extensions formed the bulk of the new launches in 2009 and continue to do so in 2010,” she told Happi. “Extensions remain a popular way for manufacturers to introduce new fragrances with less risk and marketing spend than launching a totally new brand.”

Despite the poor results, Sue Phillips, president, Scenterprises Ltd., New York, sees opportunity this season in gift sets.

“Newness and eye appeal need to be developed in order to boost sales for the holidays, which is a critical time for fragrance sales,” she said. “In this age of economic decline, it is more important than ever before to make gift-giving exciting by offering consumers unique product combinations and sets that highlight beautiful fragrances in innovative packaging.”

Outspoken by Fergie is Avon’s newest launch.
Passion for Fashion
The allure of buying a brand-name fragrance from a renowned fashion house is becoming bigger and bigger in the fragrance marketplace.

“Women love the clothes and purse designs, so why wouldn’t they love their perfume, too?” noted Julie Springer, president and co-founder of personal care information website, EndlessBeauty.com, Austin, TX.

Rochelle R. Bloom, president, The Fragrance Foundation, agrees. “Fragrance is a fashion accessory. It is a natural extension for a designer to create a fragrance,” she said. “It offers a piece of the pie to consumers who could never purchase the wardrobe but love the caché of wearing the fragrance. Designers have made a very big contribution to the fragrance industry by adding this to their overall position.”

Fashion-based fragrance launches still account for many of the high profile rollouts, according to Lennard of Euromonitor.

“The financial clout of these fashion houses means that they are often able to spend large amounts on advertising,” she noted. Think the Martin Scorcese-directed film short for Bleu de Chanel, its latest fragrance for men (see sidebar on p. 54).

Wearable fragrances are also still all the rage this year. For example, Marc Jacobs’ Daisy solid perfume ring is back this season in a limited edition form available this month. The new Daisy dome offers “a modern twist on the beloved original” with a whimsical scattering of daisies over a large black lacquer circular setting. The floral fragrance lies inside the piece. Jacobs also debuted the Lola Solid Perfume Bracelet, which features a heavy gold chain with the “Lola” logo flower that slides open to reveal the fragrance.

For Holiday 2010, Estée Lauder debuted its coveted gift compacts. The collectible solid perfume

Daisy by Marc Jacobs’ newest incarnation is a solid perfume ring.
collection includes limited edition pieces in the whimsical shapes of animals. Some of the items featured intricate detailing and Swarovski designs in vivid colors. The compacts feature Estée Lauder fragrances including Beautiful, Pleasures and White Linen. For example, Estée Lauder’s Jeweled Sea Turtle, a Neiman Marcus exclusive, holds the White Linen fragrance; the Golden Bird compact contains Pleasures. The company also is expanding its Sensuous family with Sensuous Noir, which features a deep heart of molten woods, crème noir and patchouli housed in a purple bottle.

Two other fashionable fragrances from the houses of Gucci and Paco Rabanne are aiming to have the packaging itself become a hot accessory this season. Gucci Guilty leverages the most renowned of all Gucci icons: the interlocking “GG.” According to the company, Gucci Guilty for Women has an oriental touch, with the richness of amber and fresh femininity of lilac. The lineup will consist of an eau de toilette and new ancillary products—a body massage oil, shimmering powder and body souffle.

Paco Rabanne’s Lady Million, a fresh floral and follow-up to the popular 1 Million fragrance for men, features packaging shaped like a multi-faceted gem designed by contemporary Parisian designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance. Just like a diamond, the bottle does not have a specific base, but may be placed on any facet.

And, on the heels of its 30th anniversary, retailer Express branched out into the fragrance realm with Love Express, its first-ever scent for women. According to the company, the fruity floral represents “the ultimate accessory for the style addict.” It opens with lush top notes of blackberry, cassis, Italian mandarin and pineapple.

Kate Spade, best known for her minimalist nylon handbags of the late 90s, also took a foray into fragrance this season with a juice “infused with joie de vivre,” according to the company. Kate Spade Twirl encapsulates the floral fragrance of a garden in bloom, finished with a twist of fresh fruit in its EDP. Pink watermelon mingles with blackberry and red currant, enhanced with a heart of fresh flowers including orange blossom, star jasmine, tiare flower and sweet magnolia.

To celebrate her 20 years in fashion, Vera Wang launched a signature fragrance, Anniversary, with Coty. A woody floral, it opens with Sicilian bergamot, red apple leaves and mandarin, according to the company. The heart consists of a rich bouquet of white gardenia, rose petals and orange blossoms. The dry down features the violet scent of orris and warm hints of amber and cedarwood.

And, at Victoria’s Secret, the Bombshell fragrance follows the popular lingerie collection. According to Mark Knitowski, vice president, product innovation, Victoria's Secret Beauty, New York, the company combined green notes with a fruity fresh element to create a unique dimensional fragrance that has an unbelievable signature with an amazing trail.”

Shoppers looking for a little “bling” will enjoy Lady Million by Paco Rabanne.
Bombshell also features sunstruck pine, which is the first woman’s fragrance to use this note, according to Knitowski.

Star Power
The celebrity fragrance craze shows no sign of abating, as there are many A-list stars who have just put their names to fragrances in the U.S.—for example, Lady Gaga—noted Lennard of Euromonitor.

“High-caliber U.S. stars are still queuing up to launch their own perfumes, suggesting that the trend is far from over,” she told Happi. “Celebrity fragrances tend to appeal to young women, who seek out these products to connect with their idols, but typically have a very short shelf life, as young consumers are quick to move on to the next ‘hot’ star.”

Turning up the temperature this season at Coty is Beyoncé Heat Ultimate Elixir, a lavish twist on the original scent. According to the company, Beyoncé Heat Ultimate Elixir introduces a more intimate side of the entertainer with a warmer, richer interpretation of the fragrance. A more concentrated formula than Beyoncé Heat eau de parfum, Ultimate Elixir parfum blends spicy-floral red vanilla orchid and osmanthus petals with warm notes of cedarwood and amber. The fragrance’s black atomizer lends the bottle vintage appeal, according to the company.

And, just under a year after warming up the fragrance arena with her first scent, Beyoncé Knowles is headed back into the market with Heat Rush for February 2011.

Fergie is also entering the fragrance foray this season with Outspoken by Fergie. The most recent partner to join the company’s fragrance portfolio, which includes celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Courtney-Cox Arquette and Patrick Dempsey, Outspoken is a “bold floral fruity fragrance with an unexpected edge,” according to Avon. Bold top notes “scintillate the senses,” while a feminine floral heart contrasts sharply against a leathery base. Outspoken is housed in a translucent black bottle topped with a cap inspired by the luxurious décor in Fergie’s bridal suite on her wedding day. An intricate vine design on the bottle and carton evokes Fergie’s creative expression, according to the company.

Estee Lauder is expanding its Sensuous family with Sensuous Noir.

Queen Latifah launched her second fragrance, Queen of Hearts, with Parlux this Fall. Mediterranean Citrus and warm notes of bergamot harmonize with cool, dewy greens while bold, spicy accents of cinnamon add a counterpoint to the fruity notes of dark purple plum.

At the heart of the fragrance are “romantic, elegant and intriguing notes of Egyptian jasmine enhanced by crisp red fruits” that blend into a“stunning white floral bouquet.” Faceted and edged with gold borders, a dimensional heart emerges on the façade of the square bottle.

Other recent launches from Parlux include Paris Hilton’s Tease and Jessica Simpson’s Fancy Nights.

Britney Spears is also back this season with Radiance, her latest eau de parfum for women. This is the ninth fragrance by Spears for Elizabeth Arden. According to the company, it features a light musk scent similar to Spears’ other fragrance, Curious.

Gwen Stetani’s Harajuku Girls are showing off their “Wicked Style” this holiday season at Sephora. Love, Lil Angel, Music, Baby and G are Stefani’s latest individual fragrances shaped like dolls in the Wicked Style collection.

According to the company, each girl has her own distinct personality, which is reflected in her unique fashion sense, brightly colored “velvet touch” hair and scent. Love is a fruity floral, while Lil Angel sparkles with champagne top notes. Music boasts a woodsy scent with nectarine, mangosteen and juicy pear top notes. Baby is a vanilla floral, while G’s top notes are comprised of granny smith apples, peach and pineapples.

The next anticipated rollout is from the “Queen of Hip Hop Soul” Mary J. Blige. Used to topping the music charts, the singer broke ground in unfamiliar territory this Fall as she sold more than 60,000 bottles of her debut fragrance, My Life, in six hours of air time on HSN—making the perfume the most popular and fastest-selling fragrance in the 24-hour shopping television network’s history. Rumor has it the songstress is set to debut another scent very soon.

“The industry should be thankful to the celebrity, good and bad, for bringing people to the fragrance counters,” said Bloom of The Fragrance Foundation. “They have become the bread and butter of the fragrance industry.”

She added, “Now, having said that, I think like everything we do, it has become overdone and everyone and his uncle have a fragrance. Much of it is short term, but it brings life and excitement to the stores and the customers seems to love it.”

Bleu is the New Black at Chanel

This year, Chanel No. 5 celebrates its 90th anniversary, but age hasn’t had any negative impact on the fragrance as it remains the best-selling scent in the world. In fact, did you know that every 30 seconds, a bottle of Chanel No. 5 is sold somewhere in the world?

But there may be a new breakout superstar at the company. This Fall, Bleu de Chanel is its first major male fragrance since 2004’s Allure Homme Sport and its first men’s masterbrand since 1990’s Egoïste. Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorcese directed the advertising spot for the new scent.

Company executives predict the woody aromatic (Chanel’s first) will be one of the top three men’s scents in the U.S. in the fourth quarter and will enter the top five globally in 2011.

Other notable launches in the men’s fragrance category this season include Bang by Marc Jacobs, Boss Bottled Night, Loud for Him by Tommy Hilfiger and Aramis’ Impeccable. Teen sensation Justin Bieber is also introducing a unisex fragrance for the younger set this season.

Branching Out
Custom blends are also in demand right now, according to Springer at Endlessbeauty.com. After all, how many shoppers took a quick spritz from the store sample, made the purchase and then discovered after a full day’s wear that the fragrance just didn’t jibe with their personal chemistry, or that the packaging was inconvenient?

“Customizing your perfume allows you to create a perfect scent that is tailored to what you like and what you don’t like,” she said.

Consider Bella Una, a fine fragrance company with an individual nature. With the exception of one signature fragrance, it releases new scents upward of four times a year in limited quantities and only produces each one a single time, making each fragrance one of a kind, according to the company.

The Fragrance Prestige winner at this year’s International Packaging Design Awards (IPDA) at HBA Expo, Bella Una fragrances are packaged in a mulberry bark box. Beneath the lid is an envelope sealed with a handmade flower that contains a handwritten “love letter” that inspired the specific fragrance.

Perfumer Robin Coe-Hutshing, who has been creating custom fragrances for more than 25 years at the Memoire Liquide Bespoke Perfumery, also is rolling out a novel product this season. Ironically, never one to wear perfume herself and frustrated in her search for a signature scent that was fresh yet subtle, she created Nudité Intense originally for her own personal use. It features “clean, rain-soaked undertones with the hint of a single fresh flower bud just poking through” and dries down in a unique way on whoever wears it.

Big Deals in Fragrance…So Far

This year, more than ever, marketers had to be extra selective with whom they decided to partner with for upcoming fragrance ventures. After all, a simple slip-up like an arrest or fashion faux pas can make or break the next must-have juice.

Nobody’s hotter than Lady Gaga these days and now, Coty’s got her. The singer signed a long-term licensing deal with Coty Inc. to create fragrances under her name. According to sources, the first Lady Gaga women’s scent—reportedly named Monster—is expected to launch in Spring 2012.

Coty is also linking up with prestigious Italian fashion brand Roberto Cavalli in a license agreement that will bear its first fragrance launch is in Spring 2012.

Effective Jan. 1, 2011, InterParfums Luxury Brands will take over from P&G Prestige and lead the development and distribution of Burberry (fragrances and cosmetics), Lanvin, Montblanc and Jimmy Choo brands in the U.S. In addition, InterParfums and Clarins Fragrance Group U.S.—responsible for the Thierry Mugler, Azzaro, Porsche Design, David Yurman and Swarovski brands—will share and manage an expanded sales force, according to the company.

Jones Apparel Group, Inc. also entered into an agreement with InterParfums for the creation, production, marketing and global distribution of women’s fragrances under the Nine West brand with an initial launch planned for Fall 2011. Additionally, the company entered into an exclusive worldwide agreement with colorful fashion designer Betsey Johnson LLC for fragrance, color cosmetics as well as other personal care products.

The Camuto Group and Parlux signed a five-year exclusive licensing agreement to develop a signature women’s fragrance under the company’s heritage line, Vince Camuto. Projected to hit retail shelves in Fall 2011, the perfume is being billed as contemporary and refined.

Camuto is the master licensee for the Jessica Simpson Collection—a brand Parlux knows well, having worked with the singer/actress/designer on her own fragrances, Fancy Jessica Simpson and Fancy Love as well as her newest release, Fancy Nights.

Another example of a distinctive fragrance idea comes from Peter Thomas Roth. The clinical skin care marketer formulated a unisex scent 460 Park that adjusts uniquely to each person's chemistry. It opens with sparkling apple and citrus, builds lightly to freesia and violet and dries down to warm golden ambers and creamy woods.

“It can take you from morning to evening, from a casual lunch to a black tie affair. It is a fragrance for everybody, for everywhere and every occasion,” said Roth.

Two other prestige skin care companies taking the plunge into the fragrance category this season are Laura Mercier and Sue Devitt.

Laura Mercier’s Ambre Passion Velvet EDP, and Ambre Passion Elixir, a 100% deeply concentrated oil, are inspired by Mercier’s longtime love of amber. And Sue Devitt is going global with her Golden Temple Effusion eau de toilette. This limited edition fragrance is comprised of Thai healing botanicals such as deep rainforest woods, exotic lily and wild red berries. A percentage of the proceeds from the limited edition Golden Temple Effusion eau de toilette will be donated to help bring safe drinking water to Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle region.

“This is my first foray into fragrance, but I’ve had the desire for quite some time,” she told Happi. “I recently took a retreat to the Golden Triangle region of Asia and returned so very inspired by the early-morning mist rising from Thailand's bamboo forests most of all.”

Devitt developed the scent—designed to be applied on the pulse points to encourage the flow of chi, or life force—with an Asian healing ritualist.

A Fragrant Forecast

460 Park is new from Peter Thomas Roth.

So, will fine fragrance stay afloat or sink further into the abyss for 2011? According to stakeholders, a solid mix of familiar scents and new technology may just be the panacea.

“Celebrity juices will continue to comprise many of the new launches in 2011 thanks to the often lower costs to market a fragrance involving an already high profile celebrity,” noted Lennard of Euromonitor.“Although their effectiveness in producing strong value sales will vary greatly according to the country and the fortunes of the associated celebrity.”

That said, a return to more prosperous economic times should mean renewed interest in (often) higher-priced quality scents as a backlash against the barrage of masstige fragrances, added Lennard.

“The success of comparatively higher-priced ranges such as D&G Anthology proves that consumer demand for original scents has not dissipated, and there are plenty willing to pay for products that stand out in the market,” she said.

Phillips of Scenterprises sees“fragrance experiences” as the next big thing.

“Consumers are seeking to make a relevant and meaningful fragrance purchase ….one that is going to recreate and trigger a positive experience every time he or she wears it,” she told Happi.“Multi-sensory experiences in which fragrance is paired with wine, food, chocolate, art and music is both an entertaining way to stimulate interest and also to offer an educational awareness of how our senses are so intertwined. We need ‘scentertainment’ in order to attract and keep consumers, and ‘experiences’ in which products can be purchased in a fun, exciting, creative, interactive environment.”

Knitowski of Victoria’s Secret Beauty agrees that texture is strategic in moving a fragrance.

“You will continue to see the use of green notes that are more textured, as they work to enhance other fragrance olfactive categories to impart a new freshness that captures the feeling of lightness,” he said.“The use of velvet/addictive warm notes such as musk, amber and vanilla are big statements which provide an undeniably luxurious effect with the layering of unexpected combinations of depth and dimension.”

Knitowski added there is also a continuation of a “fruity element” that is starting to utilize water-infused fruits that allow the fragrance to develop an “olfactive impression that is vibrant and fresh.”

Last but not least, there is a new floral factor that is being incorporated in today’s fine fragrance, said Knitowski.

“It’s the reinvention of iconic floral themes and the exploration of fantasy floral statements,” he said. “Utilizing notes of carnation, lilac, iris and lily in a new, more modern youthful way is going to be big.”

Speaking of sizable, Bloom of The Fragrance Foundation says the social networking revolution is a key component in revitalizing the industry. After all, a marketer may have an amazing new fragrance, but how would shoppers even know unless they got the word out in the right places?

“Obviously, the social network has become a way of life and this includes shopping,” she said. “Apps letting you shop from your computer, phone or TV are taking over, so how do we all adjust to this and continue to make ‘brick and mortar’ viable and still keep up with the new trends?If we can truly unlock this, our business will go through the roof.”

A New Twist: Top 10 Fragrances of 2010

This year, Bell Flavors and Fragrances’ perfumers and worldwide marketing teams took a different approach in crafting their fragrance top 10 list for 2010. They looked at trends in fashion, art, color, politics and entertainment and designated 10 trends that influence the creation of a fragrance. The top fragrance notes/accords are:

1. Grapefruit Rhubarb Rose
2. Seashore Driftwood
3. White Amber/Patchouli
4. Mahogany Vetiver
5. Absinthe
6. Mandarin/Orange Blossom
7. Mojito
8. Woody Iris
9. Satin Wood
10. Szechwan Pepper

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