Great article. Thank you for sharing.
Fragrance remains an untrendy gift for American men as they continue to culturally shift away from fragrance purchases. That will help flatten fragrance sales for the first time in four years, according to the NPD Group.
Just 15 percent of American shoppers will purchase a fragrance this holiday, basically unchanged from 2012. But sales to men continue their gradual decline, particularly as those 18-34 continue to lose interest in the prestige fragrance category in favor of basic body washes and supermarket scents.
Euromonitor seems to agree, noting sales are expected to be just 0.2% higher this year over last.
While American women are continuing to drift more down market, especially seeking out celebrity-endorsed, value-priced fragrances, European shoppers are embracing a category of fragrances barely known outside of perfume aficionado circles.
"Niche continues to be a major growth segment in the European market," reports Euromonitor.
For shoppers looking for higher-end fragrances, much of the growth in the prestige fragrance category—sales logged primarily in department stores—is now coming from Demeter Fragrance, including their popular Library's Oud, and a range of scents from Jo Malone and Tom Ford.
The average fragrance shopper in Europe is now older and a more sophisticated shopper with money to spend. The highest growth will come from fragrances in the $250US category in Europe, according to Euromonitor. More mainstream scents expected to do well are Bond No. 9, Estée Lauder's Modern Muse and Coty's Marc Jacobs Honey.
Americans are still flocking to celebrity perfumes, especially scents from Rihanna, One Direction and Taylor Swift this holiday season. Europeans don't care to smell like a pop star, and this category continues sales declines across Europe.
A breakdown from popular retailers:
Bloomingdale's, Sephora and Saks all listed fragrance as one of their top areas of focus for the season, with Bloomingdale's calling out its Tory Burch fragrance exclusive; Sephora its multibranded fragrance samplers; and Saks its mini-fragrance collections and fragrance sets, including Carven and Viktor & Rolf's Flowerbomb.
Total prestige fragrance sales have reached more than $3 billion.
Still, regardless of its volume, it's evident that fragrance doesn't have the same stronghold on consumers that it once did.
Amanda Ripley, 26, said she is considering making a beauty purchase for her mother or younger sister this holiday, but will likely steer toward moisturizers or hand creams. Similarly, she said would rather not receive perfume because she typically doesn't wear it.
"I think I would rather get makeup or something like that," she said.
-- Condensed from NPD, Euromonitor, CNBC, and international media reports....
Great article. Thank you for sharing.
"No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this." Desert Rose by Sting and Cheb Mami, Album 1999.
Two things I find especially interesting in this article: a major growth of the niche segment in Europe unlike in the US and that Europeans don't care to smell like a pop star. making this category continue to decline in sales across Europe. Can definitely relate to their feelings in that regard.
Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
Mean spirited, nasty, snide, sarcastic, hateful, and rude individuals don't warrant or deserve other individuals' acknowledgement or respect.
Most of us are living check to check and barely surviving..
Most of us go to Walgreens and CVS and see the celeb scents and get one whiff and buy it..
Most of us don't care about the new Slumberhouse scent or what's next from CDG..
Most Americans are not Basenoters..
I can definitely see Modern Muse taking off - that's a very solid fragrance for EL. If they ever make a men's match to it, I might be tempted. I was surprised that they mentioned Bond in the same sentence. That is very niche - but they do have two more mainstream entries recently, so maybe I can see it.
When I buy a fragrance anymore, the first questions I ask myself: Will I be able to re-sell it if I need to? Will it hold its value? Will it "go vintage"?
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India was, in all likelihood, the cradle of fragrance as a processed consumable. If people stop wearing fragrance in India, I think I'll move to Mars, cuz something will sure be wrong with Earth.
I find it interesting that I smell more fragrances on guys in Las Vegas, than I do anywhere else in America. Not sure what that means, but it's just one more reason I love Vegas - it's fragrance-friendly.
great article, thanx for sharing!
the golden age of scents ended in the 90's! imo
Last edited by Francolino; 26th November 2013 at 07:45 AM.
Honestly I feel all those IFRA regulations have really strangled the designer fragrance market, so what you end up with are fragrances not far off from Drugstore Axe fragrances of cheap celeb fragrances. So the general US population will go for those Walgreen fragrances. Those with some taste will go for niche or more hard to find designer fragrances which exist in the world of online fragrance stores. 90% of all my fragrance purchases are made online.
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The main point I get from this is that most people think fragrances are too friggin' expensive. I agree with that, BTW.
Maybe all we'll be left with is the choice between low end drugstore frags for the mass market and super expensive niche stuff for the diehard aficionados and the wealthy.
In my experience, i notice less people wearing perfume for the same reason they drive a hybrid auto. I was told once i was "polluting the air we have to share". That ended very badly for the person that made the comment, but thats a different discussion.
In the USA there is a different atmosphere that is creeping up over feelings of the past. I feel like the gentleman is dying.
We're left with the jersey shore guy that will wear 1Million everyday, and the hipster that wears nothing because its "green and organic".
It's a very sad state of affairs. That's how i see it anyway.
Very interesting article! Thank you for sharing.
I actually debated on buying fragrance sets for my entire family, cuz they always compliment me about smelling good.
BTW, $250 for a fragrance? NO.
Perhaps another Gibbon is already contemplating the writing of The Decline and Fall of the Fragrant Empire
Our job is to live joyfully in this world of sorrows--Joseph Campbell
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Eager to read that...
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Axe and Old Spice succesful? Indeed, and globally - Axe in these shores. Plus, they are fleeting scents: I had the chance of researching this and most respondents don't like silage and longevity, except for some of the "Jersey Shore" kind.
Plus, Axe has a policy replicating best sellers. So, basically, consumers are getting what they want: smelling good after a shower without suffocating those around them nor being noticed for their scents. Why paying USD 70 when you can get a good quality scent (in their own terms) for much less? Yes, I know, expensive if you take the quantity / price ratio, but for consumers the end price is what it counts because it is the only way to afford goods, plus the value assigned to it will justify the price, regardles of the before mentioned ratio.
On the other hand, wearers can feel the difference between a good and a low quality scent, but for those around him / her, they will identify the most common one without much ado as to subtleties: I wore a cheapy once done after the XS / Platinum Egöiste style and I was highly complimented for wearing Burberry for Men.
One more point: as aroma chemicals get cheaper, the more scents are launched into the market. I personally find the amount of scents in the market is overwhelming. Who needs so many? So much variety increases costs (which is not limited to price), for consumer will have to think hard before making up their minds: basically, more time searching for information before a purchase decision is made.
Do an experiment: pretend you are a new BNoter looking for a cologne, post a question, wait for aswers, and see if these helped in order to make up your mind. In most instances, it adds to confusion; very few times OPs will get clear answers (no criticism intended, just to make my point as to an excessive supply - read the thread on "What should I expect from Mugler's A * Men Leather" as an example, and do take in mind this is abut one).
At least, that is what I got from my first post in BN,a request for a suggestion on a classic English-style scent. I got many, so many, I ended up confused. Finally, Wify bought one that wasn't mentioned: C&V's Sienna
Dampier, thanks for the article. Darn good article.
Last edited by Pollux; 26th November 2013 at 01:48 PM.
Could it be that consumers have figured out that most modern fragrances sold in department stores just aren't any good? Where's the creativity? Where are the bold new statements? It's kind of like what's happened in the music industry. Corporate bean counters and marketng people have taken over, and the resulting output is all bland, safe and boring. No wonder nobody wants it. The companies behind thiese decisions blame "changing conusumer tastes." Of course they do. Marketing and PR people never admit "we screwed up." Consumers are voting with their dollars. They're either moving on to "cheap stuff I can afford" or high-end investment pieces, the last refuge of creativity in fragrance. What's left is a scorched earth middle ground where reasonably high quality designer fragrances used to reside. The latest bland, "fresh" molecules du jour are a fine choice when visiting the hollowed out wasteland of corporate culture, I guess.
Very informative article. Thanks!
Interesting read. Most Americans I know do not wear fragrances, men or women. Once in a long while I get a whiff in the crowds and I'm thrilled.
Very interesting , great share.....Cheerios
"Thank GOD for the nose, for without it we would not be enjoying these beautiful created Scents" also Remember "Balance is everything and the key to appreciating "
Like the rest of you, cologne is a big part of my personal enjoyment of life. Something that is mostly just for my benefit. I'd hate to think of life without it...would be so BLAND. So at least I will support this segment of the economy, even if sales keep sliding, as long as I am fiscally able. Love my scents!
I do think people have made some decisions about living simpler lives in the USA, much out of financial necessity and also the "green" movement. Choices got real in a hurry with the recession, and some spending patterns were permanately altered. I can respect that.
I also agree with the poster that said that cologne usage among males probably peaked in the 90's. There was a time I could tell you the scent choice of nearly every adult male I knew. Not now.
This article made me sad.....and I miss Vegas.
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The US culture doesn't place importance on scents, and is actually pretty clinical in its seeking of sanitized and unscented venues. People don't have much disposable income to waste on something actually frowned upon. People worry about allergies and offense. And increasing options in a decision makes people less likely to choose anything, as found in multiple test trials from free samples at the grocery store to strategic options decided on by C-level staff. The status quo ends up winning if making a new choice becomes difficult or confusing. Plus, all the variety increases manufacturing and holding costs for a business, driving selling price up.
Not recognizing what people want and don't want, making it harder for them to choose, and increasing their costs... terrible business recipe.
And this is a product sector where there isn't much help from the advocating consumer community. At least here on an enthusiast site, they will inundate new inquiries with overwhelming options priced out of their comfort zone, all based on a theory that a new buyer doesn't know what's good for them. The possible, but not guaranteed, reaction could be a sense of insulting and confusing some while telling them they are being cheap and common. Also a terrible recipe for expanding the market, and it plagues many specialty sites for aficionados. Though it isn't so terrible that memberships cannot grow, it just doesn't have too measurable an impact on the whole industry (unless BN and fragrantica provides a statistically significant contribution to the >$25 billion dollar fragrance industry)
The Bark Bites Back.
Maybe bros did stock up on panty droppers last year.
Thanks for the article it was very informative. Also, some great perspectives on here from all members. I understand the downtrodden economy and most jobs that have came back are lower based and with fewer perks & benefits. So the trends will sadly continue on a downtrend for most US men as far as the eye can see in fragrance purchases as these are mostly seen as a luxury and not a need.
I am very thankful at this point in time I can dip into the market and discover a few gems here and there trying to be conscious of not over doing it so fast as to burn out with to many choices. I have a set limit in mind and will cull only if and when I feel I have over extended that limit. I like prior threads on this in the past as others keep a keen perspective on things and I second that notion.
I have developed an appetite for mostly niche offerings and thoroughly enjoy them. So I understand the Euro motivation.
Interesting article. Thanks.
If any good comes out of this, I'm hoping it'd be that fragrance prices would stop increasing. Houses like Creed and Tom Ford keep increasing their prices every year; I'm wondering if we will see an end to that any time soon. Creed just recently increased the price of their Royal Exclusives.
My personal experience says that the reason Americans aren't buying a lot of fragrance is that in every crowd you will be in, there will be at least 4 people who will complain of allergy/headache induced by scent. Therefore, in a society that avoids offense in every possible sense as something nearing 'hate crime', people stop wearing it.
I think there are a number of factors at work in all this.
First, the U.S. culture shift. I'd guess the majority of men I know to wear fragrance either bought it to go out on a date, was given the scent by a girlfriend or possibly a relative for Christmas, or are metrosexual (or at least comfortable enough to walk into the "Beauty" department of a major department store, and even ask for help.)
There is a real apprehension among a lot of younger guys that feel their masculinity challenged when visiting the fragrance counter and asking to sample a scent. "Guys just don't do that," especially if they are shopping in a group say female sales associates I've asked in the past, unless they are angling for a date with the SA. Girls will without a second thought.
Now at the risk of stereotyping, and I don't mean to do that, I have noticed this apprehension does not exist with Latin American guys, who I've watched scour the fragrance sections at department stores and discounters. They are often informed about different basic scent groups, although not necessarily certain of what individual fragrances fit into which group. So I've heard conversations about choosing scents based on phrases like "that's a clean one," or "you'll get noticed wearing that," or "this would be good to wear at church/party/event." Plus they know that Beverly Hills Polo Club scents at TJMaxx are "trash."
Older men will often shop confidently, although many that don't know any better end up spraying a litany of testers on themselves resulting in a fragrance cacophony. One SA who worked for a regional department store told me stories about one strange man who insisted on spraying testers into his mouth. He was a legend and many fragrance counters experienced his "testing" until he suddenly disappeared.
Notice how marketers have adapted to the culture shift. "Axe will get you laid" is the basic premise of this scent in North America. Adidas makes you feel sporty and active.
European houses will put airbrushed hairless male models wearing next to nothing lying all over the place to sell to men. Americans will put the youth-targeted scents with an average teen or 20-something geek next to a babe and suggest with one spray, you can do anything you want with her. It's far more direct: A will get B if they use C. I'm sure most Europeans don't think if they spray Le Male, they will suddenly transform into a ripped male model in a sailor suit.
Notice the expanding line from Old Spice with names that conjure up dark folklore, creatures of the night, and fantasy icons. It's not your dad's scent anymore. The marketers are selling the imagery as much, if not more than the scent.
The celebutard fragrance lines are another example of how marketers are getting around the disinterest most Americans have in fragrances by marketing the celebrity, not the scent. Unless it smells intolerably bad, the celebrity endorsement is what pulls the buyer towards the product. If one associates with or likes that celebrity, the shopper might assume if the celebrity endorsed it and wears it, they can show their support by wearing it too. Marketers know this because the dirty little secret they don't dare to mention is that scents associated with African-American celebrities sell much higher among African-Americans than, say, something from David Beckham or Paris Hilton. Notice the scent itself barely matters. Most general retailers don't have room for testers anyway or they disappear, so a ton of sales are blind buys.
So this is why there is a big disconnect. The mainstream fragrances these days are celebrity-endorsed or value-priced items with names like Nautica. Slightly more upscale mall stores mass-market scents that are safe sells, hence Acqua di Gio. Niche is not going to turn up a whole lot at Macy's and most guys cringe walking into Sephora or a Guerlain store. Even Yankee Candle is threatening to a lot of guys.
Once you are willing to commit more than $100 on a bottle of fragrance, you are either filthy rich and don't care about money or you are a real devotee. There are fragrance houses committed to selling to both. Based on the various threads here, the one that comes to mind the most for succeeding in that department is Creed, which has its vocal critics and fans.
Most American males that I know wear fragrances, however, they do not wear them every day. Instead most American males, around my age (25-30 yrs old) at least, choose to wear fragrances on special occasions and/or a night out (usually in hopes to attract the opposite...or same sex.)
Very different for women here in the states...I know many many women of all ages wear fragrances on an every day basis. Several women I know have 10+ fragrances...I don't know any males outside of Basenotes that have more than 3.
There may also be the factor of designer houses losing relevance. Brands can still be important for clothing, but in a different way, a way that classic and couture don't matter. Fierce is a legit challenge to Platinum Egoiste because Chanel is no more important than A&F to the average consumer.
Thanks for the article. Interesting read.
Just go to any major metropolitan center in the US and look around. You will see a large mix from ethnicities, most of whom are not culturally given to perfume. Or the men anyway; you will find women from all corners of the globe in the fragrance section.
On the other hand, mass market fragrances themselves seem to have achieved the status of commercial beauty counter junk designed to rip-off the ladies. Quite frankly -- if it can be found at the drugstore, it's not something special. That goes for Channel, Dior, Paco Rabanne, etc.
I think we just have to accept it. As long as we can order our elite premium scents online we don't have much to complain about.
Many of the % coupons or BOGO coupons at retail stores don't apply to fragrance purchases. Macy's and Bloomingdale's especially. When money's tight people will find the best price for an item which isn't at a retail store.
So many great points made here.
What resonates with me is three things:
- The economy -- when it's down, people don't take vacations or make expensive purchases. While a fragrance might be a comfort indulgence for women, it is NOT for most men.
- Pop culture -- from the looks of advertising and marketing, most male fragrances are being targeted to the younger generation, who are more apt to buy an inexpensive fragrance with a celebrity name on it, as hednic suggested.
- Niche frags -- I'd think niche frags would be growing with the female demographic of the population, not necessarily for men. Women may end up buying them for their men, but rarely the other way around (with the exception of men knowing what their women wear and simply buying it for them).
Wow are things and the ecomony so much better in Europe that the biggest scent segment in grown this year is niche at $250 bucks a bottle?! WTF is up with that?!
I have a sizable collection, but try to only spend between $20-40 bucks per bottle...so I shop around for deals and almost solely order online. I can count on ONE hand how many times I've spend over $50 on a bottle.(and only once over $70) Not because I can't afford to spend more, but because anymore just seems excessive and wasteful for me.
Fragrance is similar. Many fragrances costing less than $30 for a 75 ml bottle and often far, far less that I would rate excellent to exceptional are available both from full retail and grey markets.
So, are the more expensive highly rated fragrances 'better' than the highly rated 'cheap' frags?
You be the judge.
Last edited by kbe; 27th November 2013 at 04:02 AM.
Our job is to live joyfully in this world of sorrows--Joseph Campbell
Trendy is fickle. A & F is swirling in the bowl as we speak because, perhaps, the hairless body twink ideal of the American male is finally falling out of favor (along with $60 pants that a Guatemalan worker produced for 85 cents). A & F can talk to The Gap about what it is like to run a mall store that wouldn't draw flies now.
I was in what is left of Sears yesterday and the are moving those Axe gift scents and "niche" Tim McGraw at a healthy clip. Sears is a happening place. Just consider Khloe & Lamar choose a Sears in Downey, Calif. to launch the highly ironic Unbreakable Love. All went well until Spic 'n Span sued for patent infringement and their love crumbled. Now Big Lots can't even move their stuff.
^ Gonna have to check out Big Lots! I've been playing hard-to-get on all the Unbreakables!
I was in Target, sniffing what they had, and was surprised by the latest Tim McGraw Soul 2 Soul Vintage - nice stuff. But the real surprise was how good David Beckham Instinct was. I had never bothered to smell it before. I was appropriately stunned. When you can get fairly decent stuff in celebrity scents, unless you REALLY love fragrances, or a certain one that happens to be pricey, or maybe just the idea of getting "the best" (and have the money for it), then it's simply not going to matter.
Fragrance prices keep climbing. I'm surprised when I see the retail price for designer products at The Bay or Sears.
My local Winners sell alot of discounted designer fragrances. The turn over is high. Even the lower priced Creeds (GIT, MI, VIW, RW) sell out in a matter of weeks when they are priced right ($125-$150 a bottle).
Winners is now pushing for higher prices ($200) on the Bond and Creeds and they are not selling very well.
A few months back Aventus at $200 were gone in days. The latest Aventus are now $250 and have been sitting on the shelf for over a month.
At the end of the day this is a luxury item.
We are fortunate to even be here with this interest let alone having the disposable income to consider the start or maintenance of a collection.
Beauty is in the nose of the beholder.
Beckham Instinct is a very nice scent. Vetiver heavy and very clean. I gave my bottle to my 17 year old son who wears it fairly often.
Just don't like Tim McGraw (or his wife). So there's that.
Wow very interesting, but I can totally see why. Like others have already said, American people seem to want to just smell good instead of smelling like a particular note.
I'm not a huge fan of either Tim or Faith - I find his music enjoyable, but not one of my country faves. Those tend to be obscure, shooting stars, or the "offbeat female vocalist of the year". But McGraw and Hill make a nice royalty couple. On the fragrances, I've liked everything he's fronted EXCEPT for McGraw Silver. YIKES! Not for me.