Friday Chronicle #9: the Fragrance Christmas battle, The “Vampire Ball”

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Every Christmas, while Santa Claus is getting ready, the Fragrance industry prepares the end of the year sales program. Christmas represents berween 30 to 60% of annual sales for most of Fragrance brands. So you do not want to mess up with it. This year, there are loads of new fragrances and the all brands will dine at the Christmas table. Some of them will get a bigger piece of the cake than others. Remember the Polanski movie: The Fearless Vampire Killers? Well welcome to the ball.
The Fearless Vampire killers

The fragrance industry, breaking to the Castle

With more than 400 new product launched every year, the Fragrance industry is probably one of the most segmented markets in the world. This means that with less than 2% of market share you are a leader. The most challenging part of such a segmented market is to last. Indeed, from those 400 products launched, only one or 2 still lives in the top of the charts in the market only 2 years later. So we can see that getting to the noses of consumers does not do the job. You need to reach their hearts, and that is sometimes an impossible castle to penetrate.
Lady Gaga Perfume
The entire global Fragrance industry represents today around $ 28 Billion (source: Perfume & Flavorist). According to many experts, by 2018, the entire Fragrance market might reach the big number of $ 45 Billion. It is a big bite. So Brands will fight to the end to secure their seats at the dining table. For many brands this will represent a double digit growth for the next 4 years. That is why the competitive spirit of Christmas sales is released to the world, starting mid-october every year.

The “New” word will suck your blood

Le bal des vampires
Perfumery shops were considered as boudoirs, private places even. You would know your sales advisor and he would be calling you not only to propose a sales rendez-vous but also to wish you a happy birthday to you and even to your kids. Perfumery was elitist and brands pretty unique. When certain brands would launch a new perfume, the 8 o’clock news would talk about it. Entire families would be loyal to Guerlain, Chanel or Estée Lauder.
Today things changed. Perfumery shops looks more like supermarkets, with 300, sometimes 1000 different references. They have so many perfumes to offer that they are obliged to classify them by alphabetic order. The supermarket look is also kept with all their gondolas, promotional areas, baskets and other cash register asking for your loyalty card. The sales advisor does not call you anymore. It is a clever automatic computer software who send you a postcard with -10% on your next purchase. And even that postcard arrives one week later. At the end people only look for cheap prices as that is the only relationship foundation brands develop.

The beauty advisor, a vampire diary

Beauty Advisor
Christmas is a special time of the year in which the sales advisor will be waiting for you. In one hand (s)he will have a fragrance flacon ready to spray and in (her) his other hand he will show you the gift you will get if you buy that fragrance. And if usually there are 2 or 3 sales people in the shop, be sure they will be 10 during the end of the year holiday season. All ready to spray you nicely.
And what about the advice? It is not really their fault. With more than 300 new launches every year, how can you memorize all of them. As Brands have drastically reduced their product life-cycle, why should you bother to learn every detail from a fragrance that will disappear within the following 6 to 18 month? So “New” is the new black.
Let’s imagine for one minute, you wish to buy a new fragrance for yourself. This is basically what you will experience. After declaring to a sales advisor that you wish to buy a new fragrance for yourself, here is what a bad dales advisor will do (and trust me, the world is full of them). (S)he will ask you what kind of fragrance you wear. Normally this question is supposed to help (she)him understand what kind of scent you usually like. Unfortunately (s)he just want to know how much money you wish to pay for your fragrance.
Fragrance advice
So to start the sales person will show you the new launches. Why? Well, generally because (s)he has a sales challenge on it and (s)he will be happy to win a new iPhone or other gift that brands call “sales incentive”. They will also show you new fragrances because as these products are new, you might not know them. You might then find a new happiness. Let’s say you are a hard customer and none of the new products pleased you. The next step for the sales advisor is to propose you the best sellers. Why? Well, because if so many people like them, probably you might like them as well. Bad luck and you are still not satisfied. Then we have a problem because the sales person realizes that no sales will come out from this action and that (s)he should be focusing on another customer. So in order to get rid of you, the sales person, often called Beauty advisor, will offer you a bunch of fragrance samples that you get in the bottom of a paper bag. Here you go. actually you get home, have a look on the samples that you got from the store, most of them without any single explanation and you just throw it in the garbage bin. If you are wondering why Perfumery became a mass-market business, you understand that Distribution has a very important part of responsibility. Fortunately for them brands still manage to make you dream and wanting to buy their fragrances. And christmas is the best time to bring some magic.

The battle for the number one place starts often with a new video commercial

The end of the year releases a new race for sales. Brands will prepare the end of the year in a very precise way: to support the new launches, defend the classics and highlight the new offers of giftsets and gift with purchase. And to wrap up everything, nothing better than a new TV spot. And this incoming christmas the battle will be hard as several brands will be pushing their classics thanks to a new video spot. Here is 2 examples. The first one is Dior J’Adore and the second is Thierry Mugler Angel.


The battle will be hard and we are still wondering which fragrance monster will win. Last year, Christmas sales were up by +8.3% (NPD2013/2014). It was one of the best Christmas for the Fragrance industry since 2008. Everything predicts that this Christmas will also be a good one in which the apple pie will be big. And getting a big bite of that delicious market is something that every brand wants.

If you visit a fragrance store during Christmas you might want to wear a garlic collar or throw some holy water to the sales directors in order to survive that experience. At least if you get bitten, chose well.

LA
Fragrances Christmas

Info sourced at Perfumers & Flavorists, NPD, Le Figaro and the respective brands websites. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. All images are for illustration purposes only.

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