The NPD Group reported direct-to-consumer sales of U.S. prestige fragrance grew 10% in the 12 months ending February 2014, to $285 million. While a fraction of the $3 billion U.S. prestige fragrance market, the performance of products sold on department store websites, in key online-only beauty retailers, and through TV/home shopping retailers is a bright spot for the industry, which saw 2% declines during the same time period.
“The desire to ‘try on’ a scent before committing isn’t about to go away, but there is real appeal for consumers in the immediacy of replenishing the supply of their favorite scents from the comfort of wherever they are,” said Karen Grant, vice president and global industry analyst, The NPD Group.
Gift sets led the pack, representing 46% of direct-to-consumer prestige fragrance sales in the U.S., ahead of standalone juices, which accounted for 44% of sales. Gift set sales grew 9% compared to 12 months ending February 2013.
Men’s fragrances represent a smaller portion of the sales than women’s in both prestige department stores and direct-to-consumer channels. However in both cases, men’s fragrances outperformed the women’s and the overall market in the 12 months ending February 2014. NPD’s BeautyTrends Direct showed a 19% increase in dollar sales of men’s prestige fragrances during this time.
And bigger is even better in the direct-to-consumer space. Ten percent of U.S. prestige fragrance sales in this channel (vs. 8% of prestige department store sales), fragrances sold in sizes of five ounces or larger grew 26% during this 12 month period (vs. 12% sales growth in prestige department stores).
“Offering consumers incentives and options that link the in-store experience with the convenience of purchasing direct is the best of both worlds. It is this type of seamless retailing that is providing manufacturers and retailers a world of new opportunities,” added Grant.