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Prestige Fragrance Marketers Are Wasting their Money

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Fragrance marketers must refocus their efforts to succeed at retail, according to a new analysis.

"Fragrance brands and retailers make significant marketing investments, but much of this spending is wasted," notes a recent analysis from A.T. Kearney. The report found that 80% of the top five women's fragrance brands didn't change between 2010 and 2015, despite the launch of more than 100 new fragrance launches and brand extensions.

This represents significant stagnation compared to other beauty categories and underscores a significant challenge for the prestige fine fragrance industry.

"Fragrance manufacturers are stuck in an expensive marketing cycle that rarely turns brands into new best sellers," said Hana Ben-Shabat, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the report. 

"Today's consumers still want the luxury and social desirability that prestige perfumes represent, but they also want value and convenience."

Why is fragrance marketing failing?

First, one third of prestige fragrance shoppers are loyal to an existing brand, with 34% of in-store shoppers going in-store only to replenish. At the same time, the report found that 33% of fragrance shoppers do not notice POP advertising.

In addition, fragrance shoppers find the most value in promotions and discounts (32% are strongly influenced by them), gifts with purchase (strongly influenced 20% of shoppers) and customer service provided by beauty advisers (strongly influencing 25% of shoppers), but brands are too busy investing in point-of-sale materials (strongly influencing just 12% of shoppers) and sampling (strongly influencing 22% of shoppers).

Online, shoppers can be targeted by playing on their preference for promotional offers, previous trials and lack of stock in-store.

This is a shame because, the report notes, customers can be swayed to a new fragrance or make an incremental purchase if they interact with a well-trained beauty adviser.

And 66% of consumers don't even notice or are not influenced by point of purchase advertising. Worse, only 45% of samples distributed to shoppers lead to a purchase.

Online, 64% of consumers primarily buy products with which they are familiar and are less likely than brick-and-mortar counterparts to stray from their intended purchase.

Never fear, Ben-Shabat noted, "There are opportunities for marketers to optimize these [fragrance marketing] investments by better understanding what resonates with shoppers."

"Fragrance marketers need to reinvent the online experience..."

First, the industry can target the 33% of fragrance shoppers who buy scents on impulse or as a gift, creating point-of-sale influence opportunities. In addition, 21% of fragrance shoppers are motivated by a product trial, whether in-store testing or sampling.

Online, shoppers can be targeted by playing on their preference for promotional offers, previous trials and lack of stock in-store. The report concludes, "Fragrance marketers need to reinvent the online experience for these shoppers as they are motivated by expanded product assortments, competitive price and free shipping."

"Today's consumers still want the luxury and social desirability that prestige perfumes represent, but they also want value and convenience," said Nemanja Babic, A.T. Kearney principal and co-author of the report. "By understanding and meeting the needs of both in-store and online customers, fragrance marketers will reach consumer segments more economically and effectively."