Why is fragrance such a seasonal market?


I find it bizarre that so much fragrance is sold just in December. In 2010, December accounted for a staggering 40% of many fragrance houses’ annual turnover, a figure I know has hardly changed in 20 years. Yet, it’s not as if people use fragrance only at Christmas –for most a squirt of perfume is an essential part of their daily routine.

To give the fragrance industry its due, there have been countless initiatives to spark consumer interest in fragrance buying outside Christmas. Some of the big fragrance companies have a promotional programme to push sales for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but they are a drop in the ocean compared with the effort they put behind Christmas.

I remember when the Fragrance Foundation launched Fragrance Week during the summer of 2000 with the theme “Imagine a world without scent.” It never really caught on and instead of becoming an annual event was quietly phased out. These days, the annual FiFi awards are meant to stimulate interest in fragrance halfway through the year, but I suspect most consumers have never even heard of FiFi or know what it stands for. Do you?

As I see it, the problem is that fragrance is regarded as a gift, not something that someone buys for themselves. The brands also make it easy to buy gifts, offering all the best deals at Christmas such as boxed sets with fragrance and a free body lotion.So consumers don’t bother to buy the rest of the year and wait till they know the best deals are on. Which is, of course, Christmas.