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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.

page 8 of 8

Fragrance New Market Findings
Mary Manning, president, Manning Associates, and Barbara Preyssas, global vice president, Analysis Scent International, presented findings on the contemporary fragrance consumer and changes in consumer buying patterns and usage in a presentation called “The Forgotten Fragrance Consumer.” The study focused on women age 25–40 whose fragrance choices were impacted by such factors as career and family responsibilities, and the current fragrance environment.

The Analysis Group created specialized tools designed to capture the impact of the sense of smell on human emotion. Findings in the study revealed that despite some 800 fragrance launches last year, the fragrance market was considered flat. Rochelle Bloom, president, The Fragrance Foundation, which commissioned the study, welcomed attendees to New York’s Hearst Tower to share the findings via statistics and video clips of actual fragrance consumers. Clips revealed that while women are becoming more discerning and blasé in the study demographic, many of those interviewed, both heavy users and lapsed users, felt that fragrance centered on feeling and that is where it has its strongest impact. “It’s like I put it on and I blossom,” said one subject; another heavy user added, “It personalizes me.”

Findings showed that body lotions and sprays are gaining popularity, and while women still use and purchase fine fragrance, they purchase less due to a variety of factors, ranging from not identifying with the celebrity trend to less than positive retail experiences. Some women in the study said they didn’t see themselves in current ads, and wanted more descriptions of the fragrances so they could understand them. Preyssas noted a desire for more personalized service and less hard sell at the counters, adding that a welcoming store experience and a consideration of fragrance sampling, size and portability combined with focused advertising campaigns in the types of magazines this segment is reading would all help to bolster sales and scent experience.

Patricia Haegele, senior vice president and publisher, Good Housekeeping magazine, presented supportive findings from the Good Housekeeping reader panel, noting that while 89% of women fragrance wearers studied used fragrance to please themselves and 57% wear fragrance all the time, there is a clear shift in the industry. “The industry is creating buyer challenges for fragrance consumers,” she said. “Among boomer women, according to the study, it’s easy to see why scented body lotions are on the rise. Women can smell it and try it right off the shelf.” The consensus was that a notable segment of women use less fragrance because their scent needs are met through body care products. Concurrently, a segment is moving from mainstream to niche fragrances. Regardless, said Preyssas, “we need to span those poles, both ends of the spectrum, to make the middle more appealing and innovate for success.”