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Fueling the Market—Fragrance Observations

By: Amy Marks-McGee
Posted: November 5, 2010, from the November 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

Despite the poor economy, women’s and men’s fine fragrances continue to launch and store shelves continue to be cluttered. According to the NPD Group, “Up to 1,000 new fragrance lines launch every year.” Brands seek to differentiate themselves, and consumers continually seek new and unique products. As fine fragrances jockey for position, new ingredients, innovative packaging and applications, hip celebrity figures, technology, and education are key drivers that brands capitalize on to engage consumers and capture their attention.

Ingredients, Oud and Peppercorn

Brands and fragrance houses alike continually search for new and exotic ingredients to create interest and enticing marketing concepts. The woody category is one of the newest and most exciting fragrance directions to gain acceptance in the past few years. Oud wood is a rare and precious resin found in agarwood formed in the Aquilaria tree from Southeast Asia. It is the hottest fine fragrance ingredient used in the past year and a half and continues to emerge. In 2009, oud appeared in numerous prestige and artisan brands such as Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Wood, Kilian Pure Oud, Le Labo Oud 27, Al Oudh by L’Artisan Parfumeur, and Bond No. 9 Signature Perfume, which is based on a 30% concentration of oud. Bath & Body Works Twilight Woods features base notes of cypress, oud wood, skin musk, vanilla milk and warm woods, while Citron for Men highlights base notes of white woods, oud wood, tonka bean, sandalwood and musks. The significant woody oud introductions of 2010 include Jo Malone Oud & Bergamot under the Cologne Intense Collection, Henri Bendel Rose & Oud, Kilian Rose Oud, 1001 Nights Armani Privé Oud Royal and Wonderwood by Comme Des Garcons.

Spicy nuances often accompany woody accords. Peppercorn, particularly pink, is experiencing a renaissance. While it was used in Hummer for Men (2004) and Just Me For Women by Paris Hilton (2005), it is currently a popular ingredient in both women’s and men’s fine fragrance. Avon Aromadisiac For Her, Chopard Brilliant Wish, Givenchy Play for Her, Gucci Guilty, and Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb La Vie en Rose are a few examples of many recent women’s launches that include pink peppercorn notes. Men’s fragrances that use pink peppercorn accords are Chanel Bleu de Chanel for Men and Lolita Lempicka L’Eau au Masculin. Marc Jacobs Bang highlights black, pink and white peppercorns, Jacomo de Jacomo Deep Blue uses white peppercorn, and Kenzo Homme Eau de Toilette Boisée features black peppercorn.

Innovative Packaging and Applications

Aesthetics of the bottle and packaging are significant components used to differentiate products in an intensely competitive marketplace. In addition, there has been a plethora of activity for newer, portable applications that deliver fragrance—such as roller balls and solids. Innovative iconic bottle designs that mimic the brand’s image, eco-friendly products and products that support a cause are all tactics used to stand out.