Kantar Worldpanel’s research has identified some differences by European country in fragrance usage. Penetration is highest in Spain, where fragrance is part of the daily personal care routine. Here, consumers prefer lighter, fresher options. Two out of three Poles use fragrance, suggesting heavier daily usage than in Britain where fragrance penetration accounts for less than half the population at 38%.
Bumper Year for Launches
The latest Fragrances of the World research confirmed there were 2,221 global fragrance launches in 2017, the highest number ever recorded. Despite more launches, the number of new women’s fragrances dropped and were overtaken by a surge in shared fragrances. Traditionally called unisex, the new breed of gender neutral fragrances is especially prevalent within niche brand portfolios, such as Frederic Malle and Byredo, which do not differentiate between male and female lines.
A key demographic for niche and shared fragrances are Millennials (aged 18-35). UK research for GlobalData in 2017 confirmed that 32% of Millennials say they have a preference for independent brands compared to 21% of all UK women. This younger generation of consumers approaches fragrance differently than their predecessors. They want to try new things at a rapid pace, spurred by societal pressures and online interactions. This results in a series of small decisions or “little but often,” says Euromonitor.
It is a modern take on the term “fragrance wardrobe” and a useful way for brands to encourage consumers to expand their fragrance horizons and experiences, giving rise to new spiritual techniques and influence in fragrance, such as crystal therapy, cleansing negative energy and even clairvoyance claims. An example is the Kim Kardashian Crystal fragrance range based on the gardenia flower with perfume bottles modeled on so-called healing quartz crystals. Millennial cult beauty brand Glossier has brought out a fragrance called Smells Like You, which is said to be similar to Escentric Molecule 01, the original “not really a fragrance” brand, in that it is subtle with musky overtones, but is not especially long lasting. This style of fragrance is said to be particularly favored by Millennials.
The internet is rife with startups aimed at making personalized perfume affordable. Not truly bespoke, the fragrances are created from a selection of blends that the consumer chooses depending on their lifestyle and fragrance usage preferences. For example, Scent Trunk offers a scent test to determine which fragrance family or ingredients to use or avoid, while Waft interrogates consumer preferences including favorite scents, ingredients, time of day, activity, personal style and mood.
ScentBird is a variation on the theme, offering a choice of 450 brands, many niche/artisan ones, for a monthly subscription. Meanwhile, London-based perfumer Emmanuelle Moeglin, who trained with an Annick Goutal perfumer, has opened the Experimental Perfume Club, consisting of an open-access fragrance laboratory and perfume creation studio specializing in bespoke fragrances for brands and individuals. Workshops are led by the head perfumer who offers step-by-step hands-on sessions for groups and individuals.
New Fragrance Formats
“To bring sales growth back to the established fragrance markets, brands are exciting consumers with format NPD,” maintained Charlotte Libby, global color cosmetics and fragrances analyst, Mintel. “Brushes, crayons and new application methods encourage consumers to add alternatives to their scent wardrobe.”
British brand Jo Loves led the march with the launch of the fragrance paintbrush. A gel fragrance is contained in a pump format that releases the product onto a brush (similar to a concealer pen) in order that it can be painted onto the skin. It is available in four fragrances. Swedish brand Byredo is another example of fragrance applied via a retractable brush, similar to the traditional brushes used by Japanese actors to apply their makeup. The fragrance is based on a microfine perfumed powder which is dusted onto the skin.
Libby points out that brands are rethinking product names, notes and packaging to stand out from the crowd.
“Subtlety is being replaced with attention-grabbing branding to win praise from modern consumers looking to display their difference and use fragrance as self-expression,” she said.
Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous, for example, stops everyone in their tracks.
Today’s Celebrity Fragrances
During the past five years, celebrity fragrances have fallen out of favor with European consumers to be replaced by a different kind of celebrity. They include Ariana Grande, popstar and social media sensation, and Zoella, a pure digital influencer. Both are connecting with younger consumers who value a genuine connection and sense of authenticity.
Consumers of all ages are turning away from the “one-size-fits-all” mainstream brands toward high quality product offerings that convey a real product story and message. Never before has the pressure been so great on global brands to come up with more creative ideas and olfactive differentiation.
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Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher focusing on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles. Every year in April, she publishes The Premium Market Report, focusing on trends in the UK premium beauty markets.