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Growth for the Long-term

By: Briony Davies
Posted: October 5, 2006, from the October 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Another issue that premium fragrance players must be alert to is the prevalence of counterfeiters in both markets. The Chinese government is attempting to clampdown on copycats as are manufacturers themselves, but until this problem ceases all premium fragrance brands will be vulnerable to erosion.

Unisex Take Two

Premium unisex fragrances’ sales of $0.3 billion are negligible when compared to both men’s and women’s, with sales of $5.5 billion and $10.9 billion respectively. When it becomes apparent that Coty’s cK one and cK be together account for more than 70% of value purchases, the future for unisex fragrances looks bleak with little chance of recovery after seven years of falling sales.

In spite of this there has been renewed interest in this area from a number of other players during the past 18 months. Launched in 2005, Jean Paul Gaultier’s Gaultier 2 claims to close “the sexual divide between men and women.” As well as a specifically unisex launch from Hermes, the area also has been fueled by Dior Homme’s Eau Noire, Cologne Blanche and Bois d’Argent.

The exact rationale behind these new launches is not explicitly clear. A number of unisex launches in hair and skin care, including Malin and Goetz, indicate that sharing is becoming slightly more accepted again. Yet, categorization in cosmetics and toiletries is on the increase, particularly in the men’s grooming arena.

Whatever the motivation behind the recent forays back to unisex, it is clear that image is critical to a product’s success. cK one works because of its androgynous image. In contrast, Jean Paul Gaultier is likely to deter some male consumers given the designer’s camp status. Fragrance players attempting to crack this difficult area should focus heavily on creating neutral brands.

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