Why it's Time to Put the Consumer First in Fragrance


There’s something not quite right with the fragrance industry today.

All the investment in launches, promotions and advertising simply isn’t having the desired effect.

Far from igniting the imagination, these tried and tested practices are losing their lustre. Yet, rather than innovate its approach, the industry has chosen instead to double its efforts.

2016 witnessed more launches than ever before, extended periods of discounting and cookie cutter advertising that offered little in the way of differentiation.

Meanwhile, marketers also appear to have lost sight of the attributes that made their fragrances a success in the first place.

  • Aspirational, but not inaccessible.

  • Desirable.

  • Beautiful to behold.

  • A delight to own.

Apart from the luxury brands sold in the rarified perfume halls of top-end department stores, fragrance is mostly marketed as a commodity.

Row upon row of similar-looking/smelling products differentiated only by name.The result is a widening gap between what the industry has to offer and what consumers want.

While consumers have moved on, the fragrance industry appears unwilling to move with them. This can only end badly. Recent retail history has seen the demise of a number of seemingly secure businesses that failed to evolve along with their customers.

However, innovation means throwing away old assumptions, behaviours and beliefs and replacing them with approaches borne from authentic insight into the motivations of modern fragrance buyers.

Our own consumer survey for this year’s Fragrance report has uncovered some interesting insights, which shed light onto what’s causing the disconnect between brands and consumer.

Here are 3 standout insights we discovered from the research:

It’s Not Millennials, but Older Women who are Willing to Experiment

It’s not difficult to see why fragrance brands chase the millennial pound - women in their 20s and 30s offer a new untapped market - and there’s plenty of research out there that suggests this is the demographic the industry should target.

After all, aren’t older women less likely to try new products, less confident around social media and therefore not worth bothering about?

That’s the outdated view taken by many fragrance marketers when identifying potential new demographics for their launches. If you don’t believe this, just take a look at any recent fragrance ad.

Our research tells a different story. Older women do not stick with what they know. They are interested in change and willing to experiment. However, they are also discerning and won’t switch just because something is new.

There’s a Clear Cut-Off Price Point but it Changes between Demographics

Fragrance is extremely price sensitive. Price too low and it loses its cachet. Price too high and you put it out of reach of all but the most affluent.In the past few years, fine fragrance brands have been pushing prices ever higher. It’s often linked to bottle size, which has also been increasing.

Of course, it’s better value to buy a 100ml fragrance than a 50ml one, but this can mean consumers are being asked to pay hundreds of pounds for a fragrance.

Our research confirms that setting the correct price point is key - and that point is different for millennials versus older consumers.

Gifting has a Crucial Role to Play in the Marketing of New Fragrances

When launching a new fragrance, the priority is to get it on-shelf and maybe run a promotional/advertising campaign. It’s important to get that listing and find ways of making it stand out.

But what about the consumer?

Too often little thought is given to targeting the consumer and what makes them try something new.Is it advertising that draws them in and persuades them to buy?

Or trying out a tester in-store?

Maybe a sample they’ve picked up and had time to evaluate?

Our research reveals that receiving fragrance as a gift is the number one way to getting women to try a new brand. Not all women, but women in a particular demographic group.

Understanding your customer is becoming even more crucial in such a crowded market as fragrance. We believe we’ve come up with some of the answers in our latest edition of The Fragrance Report.

To get a more detailed overview of what is included in the report, launching Monday May 15th, click here.

You can also download the strategic insights section from last year's report for free here