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Once thought to be recession-proof, the beauty industry showed its vulnerability during the 2008–2009 economic downturn, and fragrance sales were especially hard hit. Pricey fragrance products posted sales declines, though consumers—longing to buoy their spirits in a doom-and-gloom recession—sought alternative products to keep their fragrance fix going. Body lotions, refresher sprays and shower gels continued to hold their own, yet many fragrance launches planned for 2009 were shelved until some light at the end of the tunnel began to show for the fine fragrance sector. In the meantime, a return to nature and new plant materials with a bent toward holistic therapy has provided new avenues to explore for scents.
Consumers are looking for value and an economical luxurious way to lift their mood. They seek comfort as well as something new and creative. At the same time, brands and fragrances must provide quality and value.
Consumers in this fast-paced and ever-changing society always want something new to entice and titillate them. In addition to the impact of consumer cutbacks in spending, fine fragrance sales have declined because functional products such as a moisturizing body creams and shower gels—as well as body splashes—are also exhilarating the senses. Skin care and antiaging products are at the forefront of this shift, taking share from fine fragrance.
Further, major fine fragrance launches have declined because of prohibitive introduction costs. Ancillary products are the new vehicles in which to experience fragrance, and the quest for something different or new will be the driving force for creating more sales. Believable benefits—such as moisturizing from avocado oil and the antioxidant nature of cranberries—will encourage people to buy at the counter.
The major brand owners have recently flooded mass market shelves with creatively fragranced functional products, and have elevated their lines by offering some glamor in the fragrance. Unilever’s Dove body products, for example, have been energized with the addition of both familiar and exotic-sounding botanicals—such grapefruit, lemongrass citrus hesperidic and fruity florals. Suave products have been interjected with interesting new scents, complemented and reinforced with more upscale packaging.