For fragrance category veterans, a double-digit gain is surely reason to smile. But the big question is whether or not the sector can finish strongly and keep up that pace all the way through the end of the holiday season.
Yes, say retail market pundits, who point to the strong US economy. The National Retail Federation in August revised its retail sales forecast for 2018, noting sales are expected to grow more than previously predicted thanks to tax reform and other positive economic inputs—but still warned that tariffs could dampen consumer confidence. NRF expects 2018 retail sales to increase at a minimum of 4.5% over 2017 rather than the 3.8-4.4% range it forecast earlier this year.
NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay pointed to “tax reform and economic stimulus” that has created jobs and put more money in consumers’ pockets which retailers have been seeing in their bottom lines.
Still, NRF remains cautious.
“It could be a banner year for the industry, or we could keep chugging along at the current rate,” said Shay in a press statement.
According to Larissa Jensen, executive director, beauty industry analyst at The NPD Group, the prestige fragrance category continues to be buoyed by the successes it experienced during key holiday selling periods. Specifically, for Q2, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day both experienced a surge in sales in the three weeks leading up to each holiday, growing by 8% and 9%, respectively, during those times.
While those key gift-giving reasons helped propel sales, Jensen insists that the juice itself is really driving the category and not gift sets or ancillaries.
“Consumers aren’t gifting the way they used to. (In previous years, it was all about gifts sets. But big trends now are personalization and customization. By nature of what it is, a pre-packaged gift set is the opposite of that,” Jensen told Happi. “People are gifting the actual juice.”
In addition, younger consumers’ fragrance habits are also beneficial to a fragrance marketer’s bottom line.
“Younger consumers don’t have a signature scent; they have a fragrance wardrobe that is based on their moods. That is an opportunity for the industry,” she said.
Primed for the coming holiday season, luxury marketers are at the ready.
Inspired by the precious blooms, Bvlgari has created Magnolia Sensuel, a new floral addition to its Splendida collection. The scent has top notes of neroli and mandarin essence, heart notes of sweet orange flower absolute and base notes of smooth patchouli, musk and Tahiti vanilla in this scent ($146 for 14oz), which is being sold at Macys.com and Bvlgari.com
Fellow luxury purveyor Burberry rolled out Burberry Her last month at Burberry.com and at select Burberry boutiques. It will additionally be available at specialty beauty retail and department stores globally and online, according to the company.
Burberry Her eau de parfum is billed as a vibrant, fruity and floral fragrance created by master perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. It opens with a burst of red and dark berries (blackcurrant, blueberry and raspberry) and has floral notes of jasmine and violet at the heart with a base of dry amber and musk. The bottle is inspired by the design of Burberry’s first fragrance, Burberrys for Men, which launched in 1981. Made from smooth curved glass, it can also be personalized with engraved initials on a gold charm that hangs around its neck.
While the venerable brand traces its history back to 1856, Burberry is putting a modern spin on its marketing effort with this new fragrance; the campaign is being supported “heavily” via social media, including a custom Snapchat lens and geo-targeted Snapchat filters around London, as well as Burberry Her Giphy stickers for Snapchat and Instagram.
Another new fragrance is Narciso eau de parfum Rouge. Like Narciso Rodriguez’s other scents, color is a big part of the story—with its namesake (red) being the focus. The scent comes in the designer’s signature bottle enriched with a singular red; the original fragrance, Narciso eau de parfum, is a warm stone-white and the eau de parfum poudrée is blush. As for notes, Narciso eau de parfum rouge’s heart of musk is “animated” by a floral bouquet of Bulgarian rose and iris along with amber woody notes—tonka, vetiver, black and white cedar. The 1.6oz and 3.0oz bottles are $97 and $115, respectively, at Bloomingdales.
Continuing their collaboration announced at the start of 2018, John Varvatos and Nick Jonas have rolled out their first fragrance for men under the JV x NJ label. The new scent (also called JV x NJ) was unveiled in August at John Varvatos and Nordstrom stores and is expanding to other retailers. The flask is painted with a custom pearlized midnight-blue lacquer and adorned with a gunmetal dog-tag and hex-nut cap engraved with “JV x NJ.”
Fashion brand Juicy Couture and Revlon recently rolled out Oui Juicy Couture, which the creators say is packed with innovative ingredients such as watermelon and acai tea accords. The two notes are balanced with fresh pear while wild tuberose, jasmine buds absolute and honeysuckle create a floral bouquet. Amber resins and musks anchor what Revlon calls a unique “techno woods” accord. Oui Juicy Couture’s decanter shape bottle has a contemporary look, highlighted by one-of-a-kind dual color glass (soft pink and fiery red-orange). There is an oversized gold chain and logo pendant draped around the neck and the bottle is adorned with a crystal topper.
Superstar singer Ariana Grande has also expanded her scent collection with Luxe Brands. New Ariana Grande Cloud bowed this Fall 2018 exclusively at Ulta Beauty in the US and Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada before expanding to other retailers this holiday season. Cloud opens with a top blend of lavender blossom, pear and bergamot. The heart features a crème de coconut, praline and vanilla orchid. Musks and woods are at the base. Inspired by a cloud, the bottle has a subtle blue glow and rests in a “soft, animated white, puffy cloud base.”
While the celebrity scent trend may not be as strong as it was in previous years, there’s no denying the success Grande has had in the fragrance category. The Ariana Grande fragrance brand boasted more than $150 million in sales since launch, according to Luxe Brands.
Coach is betting on a new celebrity face as well as it has recently announced that actor Michael B. Jordan will be the first global face of the Coach menswear business. His partnership with Coach will include global advertising campaigns for men’s clothing, accessories and a fragrance, too, beginning next Spring.
While boldface names can help sell EDTs and EDPs, many eyes are on the indies. Just as it is in skin care and cosmetics, artisanal fragrance brands continue to emerge and it appears that both consumers and the fragrance business at large are embracing these smaller players.
“There is a place for small brands to make an entrance,” Linda Levy, president of the Fragrance Foundation, said during a recent panel discussion on Italian beauty. According to Levy, even larger stores want to bring in smaller, artisanal brands.
A digital brand, Kierin NYC recently teamed with Mathieu Nardin—the nose behind Nectar for Commodity and Iris de Champs for Houbigant—on a new premium collection of fragrances. This new Kierin NYC collection includes Highline Flirt (a fresh and magnetic scent with a blend of woody, floral and green), Nolita Noir (spicy and hypnotic with a harmony of chypre, floral and gourmand), Santal Park (woody with a refreshing hint of spice and mystery), and Sunday Brunch (citrusy and cheerful with just the right touch of floral). These eau de parfums have a high-concentration for a long-lasting scent experience and qualitative dry down.
“When a perfume doesn’t last throughout the day it’s usually because it is not eau de parfum but a dilution, eau de toilette or cologne,” said Didier Maine de Biran, co-founder of Kierin NYC.
Digital brands like Kierin NYC find success selling fragrances online. It is a brave new world—but is one that holds promise, according to experts.
While most of the online fragrance sales through venues like Sephora.com or Ulta.com skew toward replenishment of long-standing favorites, indie brands are challenging convention and having success by enlisting distinct distribution strategies and “coming up with unique and innovative ways to showcase how the fragrance smells,” said Jensen of The NPD Group.
And it appears established fragrance marketers are taking a page from that playbook. Interstellar Brands LLC, a subsidiary of Inter Parfums, will develop of a new fragrance line in collaboration with supermodel Lily Aldridge. The deal marks the beginning of a strategic partnership between Interstellar and IMG Models—which manages Aldridge—to develop direct-to-consumer e-commerce fragrance and beauty businesses for IMG Models. Aldridge will work closely with Interstellar to develop a namesake fragrance line and ecommerce site that will be connected directly to Aldridge’s social channels. Initial products are expected to be available for sale by the end of 2019, according to Inter Parfums.
“We believe this partnership is a first in our industry,” said Jean Madar, chairman and CEO of Inter Parfums, Inc. “Drawing from our decades of experience creating products that capture and interpret the DNA of our brands, we will look to develop namesake products that capture the spirit of each celebrity. Direct-to-consumer sales backed by social media, rather than traditional advertising, make this a very attractive business opportunity.”
The shift to online was once seen as a threat to fragrance retail, but social media allows brands to speak directly to consumers—and that could be a boon rather than a bust for a category that has historically used story-telling to help sell its wares.
“Consumers don’t want to just be sprayed,” said Levy of the Fragrance Foundation during the beauty panel. “They want to know the story. They want to hear about history. They want to know about the craftsmanship and they want to know the ingredients. They don’t want to just be sprayed.”
• Two French brands are making forays into the US market this season.
Art Meets Art is a French perfume brand that merges art and fragrance, creating scents inspired by pop culture icons and songs. The collection includes Like a Virgin, Lilac Wine, Besame Mucho, I Put A Spell On You and Sexual Healing. The 50ml fragrances are $95 each at Saks and ArtMeetsArt.com.
Also new to the states, Valeur Absolue is a French brand founded by Bénédicte Foucart. The former VP of international marketing at Elizabeth Arden has put a wellness spin on fragrance with a line of Ecocert Cosmos Certified organic 100% natural perfumes. Available online via ValeurAbsolue.com and in luxury spas and hotels nationwide, Valeur Absolue consists of two core ranges that use “carefully selected raw materials and contain a very high percentage of ingredients from natural origins with semi-precious stones that are inserted by hand into each bottle believed to enhance well-being.”