Fragrance Falling Short of Consumers’ Expectations


Key to our interpretation of trends in Fine Fragrance is an understanding of the factors that motivate consumers to purchase.

Over the past two decades, the constant stream of new fragrance launches has become the norm. Retailers expect brands to have a programme of new launches to create novelty and excitement at point of sale. Brands keep rejuvenating existing brands with endless flankers.

But what do consumers think about it all? Are they constantly on the look out for the next new scent?

Years ago, consumers wore their “signature” fragrance and for many it was their DNA, the smell they wanted to be associated with. Fragrance brands bent over backwards to retain their loyalty. But it appears that many have forgotten about their loyal customers in their haste to launch the next big, or small, thing.

We all know that the Fine Fragrance market is groaning under the weight of new launches – but is this what inspires consumers to buy?

We also know that Millennials are the demographic marketers are most keen to target. The question is, are fragrance brands successfully reaching this important moneyed group?

We examined these questions, and many more, for the new expanded Consumer Research section of the Fine Fragrance report.

We interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,000 women across the UK and asked them the following questions:

  • What type of fragrance do they like to wear?

  • Are they persuaded to try a different fragrance when they see something new?

  • What is it that actually gets them to buy fragrance?

  • Where do they go to discover fragrance?

  • Where do they buy fragrance?

It’s the first time we’ve looked at consumer motivations in Fine Fragrance in such detail and the results are extremely revealing.Here are some of the key findings:

The Majority of Women are Loyal to Fragrance Once They’ve Found One that Suits Them

After all these years, consumers continue to be loyal to the fragrance they love.

Yet, fragrance marketing is no longer about looking after these loyal customers. Their effort is directed into promoting new brands and products.

But what if she discovers her dream fragrance is a limited edition and only on sale for 3 months? Just imagine her disappointment.

It seems crazy that brands are investing their precious marketing budget into chasing new customers who are happy with what they already have.

Instead, wouldn’t it make sense to invest in making existing customers feel special by rewarding their loyalty?

Millennials are the Most Experimental and Engaged with Fragrance

Our research shows that women aged 18-34, the Millennials, are the most open-minded demographic group in terms of their attitude towards fragrance. They’re not afraid to experiment with new brands they’ve read about, seen advertised or come across when out shopping.

All good, but something is holding them back from purchasing more fragrance.

Our research reveals a strong dissatisfaction amongst Millennials with current fragrance offerings. They say that too many brands smell the same.

Where is the innovation that this industry has so long prided itself on? Consumers want it, but don’t believe that brands are delivering it. This must surely change if the fragrance industry expects sales growth.

What Little Growth there is in Fragrance is Coming from Online Sales, Not Retail

At first glance the research shows that women love going shopping for fragrance. Retail is alive and kicking. Online represents a miniscule proportion of fragrance sales.

But…Consumers are getting a taste for buying fragrance online. After all, isn’t that where many are buying other beauty-related items?

And what online lacks in terms of physical interaction with products, it more than makes up for in other ways. Consumers are flocking online to learn about fragrance from their peers, bloggers, vloggers and more. And the more they learn about fragrance, the more confident they will be to try something unknown.

Retailers cannot afford to sit back on their laurels. They need to provide an in-store experience that is impossible to find online.

But it’s not one at the expense of the other. Those retailers that can offer the best of both worlds will be the winners.

Fragrance Sampling is All about Physical Interaction with the Product

Browsing for fragrance in-store is still the main way women discover fragrance. But many are disappointed with the advice provided.Instead they’re looking elsewhere for advice and inspiration.

Fragrance retailers need to know how to respond by investing in both the store experience and their presence online.

Smell is the Most Important Reason for Buying a Fragrance

If this is the case, then why don’t brands and retailers do more to help consumers test and sample fragrances?

What steps do retailers need to take to engage with their fragrance customers more effectively in-store?

And how can online retailers get an even bigger slice of the action?

The answers to all these questions will be revealed on Monday 4th April when the Fine Fragrance report launches.

Discover what the report has in store here.