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New Avenues Pick Up Slack in Fragrance Sales

By: Nancy C. Hayden
Posted: June 22, 2010, from the July 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Aromatherapy remains somewhat elusive. Essential oils have always been associated with their therapeutic effects, as well as their fragrancing abilities, and certain notes are assigned as having positive or negative effects in our memory banks. Scent, too, triggers emotions, and this can be positive or negative. For instance, spices such as pepper, rosemary, basil or nutmeg can be exhilarating; lavender can soothe and calm; and cinnamon and clove can excite and stimulate memory. As these ingredients become even more familiar tools in marketing products, they will also be tapped for their fragrance benefits.

Consumers seek comfort in familiarity with ingredients that provide both nutritional benefits and a familiar fragrance theme—food notes and spices are comforting. They are a feel-good, back-to-basics psychological reinforcement. To capitalize, the giants have—in addition to giving beauty products more of a fashion twist with creative fragrancing—leveraged trendy botanical and holistic ingredients to market products.

Lower Cost Options Attract Consumers

Private label and no-alcohol base products are lower-cost options that have made inroads in attracting consumers, and reinforced the notion that consumers still want a fragrance experience. Sears’ Time Out private label line, for example, is a vehicle for delivering fragranced products in bath and body formulations, as well as low-alcohol sprays.

Refresher sprays and body mists have become very popular products for spraying fragrance at low levels to deliver the vicarious scent experience, and at a very reasonable price. Splashes and body sprays have also become great selling products that deliver the fragrance experience at a lower price, and specialty stores such as Ulta and Sephora have developed product lines to lure the consumer with quality fragrance. In many cases, these are very similar to upscale lines, but at a dollar amount more likely to resonate with price-conscious consumers.

As the market becomes more competitive for consumer dollars, only products that deliver good value and performance will remain. And the ever-evolving art of fragrance—and a fresh and expanded approach to scent—will be key in enticing today’s consumers.