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Fragrance & Well-being in the New Normal

Contact Author Lisa Doyle
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Prestige fragrance sets featuring scented candles posted U.S. sales of $1.6 million in 2020, representing 62% year-over-year growth, per NPD.

Global quarantines throughout 2020 had consumers rethinking the role of scents in their lives. Late last year, the NPD Group shared that 49% of fragrance wearers reported using scents less often due to lifestyle changes caused by COVID-19a. However, widespread adoption of home fragrances, particularly candles, created new avenues for category growth.

Fragrance Surprises Amid Pandemic

Fragrance was notably resilient in 2020. Of the three U.S. prestige categories that experienced declining revenue in 2020, fragrance dropped the least, just 8%, per NPDb. In fact, the category had a year-over-year gain for the month of December, coinciding with holiday shopping.

No doubt, store closures hurt fragrance sales, but those impacts declined later in 2020. In fact, U.S. prestige fragrance returned to modest growth in August, spiked in October and sustained positivity through the remainder of the year, thereby somewhat offsetting the steep declines of the initial pandemic wave. The key takeaway: physical stores still matter for fragrance.

There are two additional bright lights ahead for the category. For one, most of NPD’s fragrance-wearing respondents expect to go back to their old habits once life normalizes again—and with vaccines on the rise, the industry has high likelihood of a swift rebound.

For the full article, check out Global Cosmetic Industry's May 2021 digital magazine.