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Encouraging Scent-seeking Consumer Toward Fine Fragrance

Posted: June 25, 2014

In “Filling the Fine Fragrance Void,” a blog post from The NPD Group director and fragrance industry analyst Brenna Phelan, the dichotomy between consumers’ attraction to scent in relation to their buying behavior and the declining numbers of the fine fragrance market is put under the microscope.

As Phelan writes in her post, “While fragrance itself is intriguing to consumers, the power of scent on their purchasing behavior is also telling.” While attending a beauty industry event recently, Phelan explored the subject of scent’s affect on consumers’ buying behavior further, noting, “… studies have shown that consumers prefer stores that have ambient scent and are often willing to spend more on the same merchandise than when they are in an environment with no scent. In other words, if they ‘scent it,’ they will buy.”

But Phelan also noted the disconnect between this apparent consumer love for scent and the market for fine fragrance. She writes, “Fine fragrance usage has been a topic of conversation in the U.S. among those in the industry for the last several years, and for good reason. According to past NPD usage studies, there has been a decline in consumption of fine fragrance, which started around 2009. This year, six in ten women reported that they use fine fragrance, with a much lower percentage using fragrance on a regular, everyday basis.”

The distance between scent-seeking consumers and the fragrance market is maybe being bridged through other beauty products. Phelan notes, “Although consumers may not be using much fine fragrance, they do want to include scent in their lives. Nine out of ten women indicate that they use scented body products such as deodorant, lotion or body sprays. These figures are more in line with behavior seen in the retail experiments: people really do like scent!”

However, this decline in fine fragrances must be seen as a new way to reintroduce consumers looking for a quality scent to this segment of the beauty market. “There are several reasons why consumers report a lack of, or decline in usage of fine fragrance juices, including cost, routine and health concerns. As an industry, we can and should find ways to overcome these barriers to usage,” Phelan writes. “It is important to recognize that consumers are looking for alternative ways to experience scent, and helping them fill this void is where the opportunity lies for the fragrance industry. Knowing that shoppers do, in fact, like scent and want it in their lives is encouraging news. The challenge lies in how to provide them what they want, and in the way they want to experience it.”