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Super Premium Beauty on Cusp of a New Era of Growth

By: Fflur Roberts, Euromonitor International
Posted: August 31, 2011, from the September 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The notion that consumers in China, Brazil and Russia will reject a fragrance because it smells too French or too Italian is simply not true. Fragrances do not need to capture the scent of a country to become a desired luxury product. The way a super premium fragrance is perceived is more directly related to its positioning, and indeed to the packaging and the luxury credentials of the name. Bond No. 9 has a strong association with New York neighborhoods, which is a key driver of demand. But that is down to the packaging, commercialization and branding. The scent came later.

And consider the case of Comme de Garcon. The brand is often associated with French sophistication, even though it is Japanese. And for its first foray into fragrances, Comme de Garcon chose an English perfumer, Mark Buxton. Comme de Garcon perfume subsequently became associated with something quintessentially Japanese or quintessentially French or quintessentially British, depending on your perspective. The point is most of the new generation of wealthy BRIC consumers will engage with super premium fragrances in terms of how emblematic they are of luxury and sophistication and not depending on whether they smell French, Italian or Japanese.

Perfumers may be key to creating added value finesse, but the way a luxury fragrance is packaged and branded has to be more important. That is where the category needs to be channeling its biggest dose of emerging market investment over the next five years.

Fflur Roberts is the head of luxury goods research for Euromonitor International.