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Live From New York: State of the Fragrance Industry

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: January 10, 2008, from the January 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

The Fragrance Foundation cosponsored a presentation on the current retail environment, consumer attitudes and financial perspectives impacting the fragrance industry. A panel discussion, held at New York’s Yale Club, was moderated by Darby Dunn, CNBC, and introduced by Rochelle Bloom, president of The Fragrance Foundation, who noted that 60% of fragrance sales were generated during the holiday season, underlining the season’s importance to the fragrance industry. The panel featured Christopher Ferrara, senior director, Merrill Lynch; Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center, The Conference Board; and Gilbert Harrison, chairman and CEO, Financo.

“A volatile stock market and climbing gas prices could cause a slowdown at holiday time, but there are some bright signs on the horizon,” said Dunn, who also noted that 42% of consumers surveyed in a recent study said they would spend money on fragrance.

“News is somewhat mixed for the holiday, and the impact of climbing gasoline prices will make a difference,” said Franco, who noted that this will be reflected in reduced consumer spending at many discount retailers. However, because new fragrances will drive purchasing, remain key gift items and are poised for long-term growth, the impact of decreased holiday spending should have less of an impact on fragrance sales, especially with many retailers offering special sales.

Harrison said unique product offerings and the importance of impulse purchasing were absolutely critical, and noted the continuing success of celebrity fragrances—23% of fragrances today are celebrity endorsed. He noted, however, the question of longevity with these fragrances.

Event sponsors included Cosmopolitan magazine, Clarins Fragrance Group and Symrise, Inc.