Jeremy Seigal: His Views on the Fragrance Industry and Where it’s Heading

It’s some months since Jeremy Seigal resigned from his position as CEO of AS Watson {UK}. So I was delighted to catch up with him at the Bucks Beauty Breakfast networking event, where he’d been invited to speak.

As joint Founder and Managing Director of The Perfume Shop, Jeremy helped to change consumers’ perception of fragrance. Before The Perfume Shop, fragrance was shrouded in mystery and sold mainly by distant sales consultants in department stores. Only those with the money and confidence to walk through the hallowed perfume halls dared to buy fine fragrance.

The Democratisation of Fragrance

The Perfume Shop model was one that the fragrance industry had never seen before. Such as setting up shop in working class areas.

Jeremy observes: “Brands/retailers were besotted with the growth of the middle classes. We appealed to people who aspire to brands wherever they are, not just those from the usual leafy suburbs.

The Perfume Shop was at the beginning of the democratisation of fragrance. It was a catalyst for change.

“Breaking down exclusivity is what The Perfume Shop did. Our customers were able to access brands such as Armani and Jean Paul Gaultier. They were able to buy what these designer brands represented.”

According to Jeremy, fragrance is magical but brands and retailers fail to communicate this effectively to the consumer. “It has mystery, but a lot of fragrance is foisted onto consumers to befuddle and confuse them. In department stores, they are shown lists of ingredients that mean nothing. How can we expect them to make a choice?”He maintains: “If we treat consumers with respect, they will come back time and again.”

“Online will change consumer perfume habits”

Currently, fragrance can only be sold online if the company also has a shop. This is due to the way that selective distribution agreements between suppliers and retailers are structured. However, Jeremy predicts this may change.

“In 5 years, the way fragrance is sold online will change. People’s attitude will change. Online may transform in a way that may not be in the interest of the players but in the interest of the consumer.”

Online will engage consumers by making fragrance even more accessible as a resource for information.“It will do an education job in demystifying fragrance,” Jeremy predicts.

“Ultimately, choice will be driven by the consumer.”

Jeremy’s hints on more effective fragrance retailing:

Retailers can help consumers overwhelmed by product choice in-store by:

  • Helping them navigate the choice of brands

  • Editing {or ‘curate’, as they now say} the range

  • Signposting it for the customer

  • One in; one out: every new sku requires another to be delisted

Watch out for our forthcoming blogs on the challenges facing the fragrance industry. We’ll be exploring areas of opportunity and providing recommendations which will be available in our forthcoming research reports.