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Fragrance marketing campaigns need to become less about celebrity branding and more about selling a total consumer experience. This is where niche fragrances might just have the edge. With changes in consumer preferences and increased demand for personalized experiences and products, there is an evident scent of change in the global fragrance market.
The one thing that hasn’t changed since the Ancient Egyptians first produced perfumes over 5,000 years ago is how the fragrance market is constantly evolving.
It is perhaps in the past decade that we have seen one of the biggest shifts in the fragrance story of modern times. Today’s discerning consumer is driving a shift in the market. More and more, consumers are opting for quality driven, high-priced perfumes. They are happy to opt for smaller bottles, driving a decrease in the volume of perfume consumed, but an increase in value.
Why Niche Fragrances Are A Hit
Recent trends point to an increased appetite towards niche fragrances and a notable slow-down in the mass and premium fragrances categories. A proliferation of launches and the addition of new lines to established brands have, in many ways, brought the industry to a saturation point. With so many brand propositions and such a wide variety of affordable products available, consumers are becoming less likely to remain loyal to one particular scent.
On the other hand, the selective distribution process, quality of ingredients and small scale production typical of niche perfumes are attractive propositions – for some, the more exclusive and personal a fragrance is the better. Exclusive perfume brands have established strong reputations for their high quality whereby scents tend to be stronger and last longer. Fragrances with alternative and locally-sourced ingredients are creating unique olfactory sensations that are gaining in popularity.
This is why perfume brands active in exclusive collections and niche offerings are beginning to enjoy stronger growth prospects than the mass produced. The discerning consumer is more willing to pay higher prices for a scent that catches their attention and stands out from the crowd, driving demand for fewer, but more impactful offerings. Consumers are also more willing to pay the same price for smaller bottles, with many opting to have several scents on the go – a notable shift from the loyal fragrance consumer of yesterday.
Even the global cosmetics giants are scrambling for a share in this niche category in an effort to protect their share of the fragrance market. Estée Lauder which owns once niche perfume brand Jo Malone has now also bought niche fragrance brands Le Labo and Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle and in June 2016, L’Oréal announced the signature of an agreement to acquire niche perfume brand Atelier Cologne.
The Department Stores’ Response
In this most recent evolution niche fragrances are exerting the greatest influence on the global fragrance market. Department stores have had to reinvent how consumers shop for fragrances. A trend popularised by Paris’ Printemps and London’s Harrods, dedicated counters for artisanal scents are popping up in an effort to foresee and meet consumers’ demands for bespoke perfume creation and personalisation services.
This trend is also reflected at Beautyworld Middle East’s Quintessence – the Art of Perfume, a showcase of premier and niche perfume brands offering an insight into the creative process behind unique scents. This year’s showcase featured workshops by Thomas Kosmala on mixing techniques from a range of perfume families. Many of Kosmala’s creations are available exclusively at Harrods 6th floor perfume destination Salon de Parfums.
What The Future Holds
The challenge now lies in niche players being able to keep their original focus. Quality of ingredients, small-scale production and selective distribution processes will still define a niche fragrance. However, in a market where bigger players are jumping in and geographical expansion is attainable, niche perfumers must be careful not to dilute that unique selling proposition.