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Study Shows Scents, Not Celebrity, Drive Fragrance Consumption

Posted: December 15, 2011

Despite the influx of celebrity-endorsed fragrances, it’s scents over celebrity association that sells fragrances according to a new study from Total Beauty Media Group. When women were asked how they chose and purchased fragrances, scent strips and in-store trials were the key drivers. While celebrity products and endorsements receive buzz and build awareness, consumers were reluctant to admit that celebrity associations were influential to their purchase behaviors in the fragrance category.

Using its library of audience data, Total Beauty asked more than 480 women about their fragrance consumption and purchasing habits. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said that scent samples and in-store trials were the most influential factors in their buying decisions. Findings from the study also concluded that in an uncertain economy, women consistently view fragrance as a luxury they’re willing to pay for. Notably, 40% of women in the lowest income bracket (household income under $25,000 per year) purchased fragrances at specialty retailers and not mass merchants, thus transforming the shopping experience into one of indulgence.

“What’s fascinating is that 40% of women with a household income under $25,000 spent upwards of $150 on fragrance over the past 12 months,” said Ethelbert Williams, head of marketing, Total Beauty Media Group. “Women are simply willing to pay for scent, regardless of the economy.”

Additional findings from the study include:

  • Wealthier women are more likely to purchase fragrances when there is a free gift with the purchase.
  • Eighteen percent of respondents with an annual household income of more than $150,000 were enticed to purchase a fragrance when they received a free gift with purchase, whereas less than 8.5% of women with lower household incomes were influenced.
  • Women over the age of 55 are more apt to treat themselves to fragrances.
  • Seventy-one percent of respondents in the 55+ age group spent $50–149 on fragrances over the last year, but only 43% purchased fragrances as a gift.
  • The higher a woman’s income, the more likely she is to be influenced by a celebrity endorsement.
  • Respondents in the $150,000+ income bracket were twice as likely to be influenced by celebrity cache.