Shaping the market of scent is not within our capacity, however mapping it is. And it seems like our antennae have been tuned to all the talk lately about a shift in consumers' tastes and a seismic change due to the increased information received by the Internet. This manifests itself with many signs, which we will tackle one by one.
First of all, the reign of "celebrity scents" is coming to a slow end. (Those are fragrances bearing the name of a famous person, produced by a couple of companies excelling in that brief, like Coty or Parlux). It's not simply that perfumistos, people with an acute interest in fragrance, are getting completely jaded and being vocal about it on online fora. It's also that there is simply too much celebrity juice out there.
In the article "Celebrity Scents Fall Out of Style: So Over It" by Carmen Nobel in Thestreet.com the author stipulates that "Tagging a perfume with the name of a celebrity goes back to the days of Coco Chanel. But the trend got a little out of control after the success of Jennifer Lopez's Glow, launched in 2002". After everyone and their grandma and their grandma's cook having a celebrity scent in the works, from athletes to actresses/musicians and authors all the way to reality-games-participants, it's getting a little tired and lots of people do not see the glamour or the relevance with certain celebrities.
The stats are a little shocking and show the proliferation of what seems like an oversaturated market: "In 2005, there were some 20 celebrity fragrances on high-end department store shelves, and by 2008, there were at least 47, according to Karen Grant, a beauty industry analyst at the NPD Group, a market research company in Port Washington, N.Y. And those were just the fragrances in the "prestige" and "premium" brackets, those that cost at least $50 and upwards of $75 per bottle, respectively."
The analyst also foreshadowed that the celebrity scents which would do well in the near future would be only the ones which are packaged in fancy presentations (Harajuku Lovers being an example)
But people are also avoiding perfume altogether sometimes: Too much juice sometimes produces a saturation across the boards. In an quizzical article on the Frisky fragrance shizophreniac (by her own playful admission) Erin Flaherty prompted by a no doubt exaggerated statistic (NB statistics can be manipulated the way one wants them to) intelligently discusses whether fragrance as a concept is knowing diminished popularity lately: Has perfume gone out of style? "When it comes to women and our relationship with fragrance, there’s something I’ve noticed lately, and it makes me wonder how many women out there wear any perfume at all? [...] the whole douse yourself in perfume before you leave the house thing hearkens back to another era. A lot of 20- and 30-somethings I know just don’t bother.[...] A recent NPD report showed that prestige fragrance sales in the U.S. are down 10 percent. This could just be due to the recession, but still. There’s also our generation’s obsession with individuality: Maybe we don’t all want to smell like the latest designer fragrance (or God help us, Britney Spears), and are more likely to create our own signature mixes using oils, a combination of perfumes, or are just content with our bodies’ own natural scents. Or maybe it’s just allergies".
On the other hand, there seems to be an indirect marketing strategy in which the familiar and old stanby, the fashion designer turned fragrance-churning big name, is used again in new and ingenious ways to provoke the response of a more aware consumer who is leafing through glossies like always, but is also interested in online information. Evidence: the latest column by Tina Gaudoin in the Wall Street Journal Magazine which tackles the Italian designer Giorgio Armani and his illustarted talk about scents and sensuality. (I admit I had no idea he had been in medical study at any point in his career! The things one learns...But I do adore capers!!!) Are the people reached that way more likely to sample his latest venture, Idole d'Armani?
On the same issue of the same medium there is another interesting piece about the most prized spice, saffron, a literal stamen by stamen worth of gold foil due to the labour-intensive harvesting. Saffron notes in fragrances have known a surge in niche releases and the reason is not hard to see, judging by the culinary effect the red spice possesses: "Comparing saffron to other culinary objets d’art is a nonstarter. Drugs are more appropriate. Too much and a dish overdoses on flavor. In excess, it can even become toxic. “Eating handfuls of raw saffron will shut down your liver,” Sharifi warns. But a tenth of an ounce, say, what Andrés might add to a saffron cake, can carry a dish on its shoulders, brightening the color to a golden orange and cutting the sweetness of a dessert with its grassy, metallic punches. (And just a dash will add at least a few dollars to the price of any dish.)" Would the popularity of exotic ingredients in cuisine result in an increased awareness of "scentsorial" experiences out of the perfume bottle? After all, smell and flavour are closely entwined and the discenring perfume wearer is often an equally investigative, adventurous foodie. Could these old, nay, ancient ingredients (crocus from which saffron is extracted was known by the prehistoric Aegean populations) become the new items to replace the pink pepper, the iris and the ~synthetic, by now~ oud which have taken the niche and mainstream market by storm these past two-three years? Cheers to a new route chosen, if so, and I raise my glass to this back to the future!
So the baton is on to you: What do you notice in your neck of woods about fragrance trends? Do people wear fragrance or avoid it, what is getting chosen most, are people inquisitive about new exotic or perhaps old-fashioned scents?
pic credits: bloogoscoped.com, aphrodisiology.com, girlinaglasshouse.blogspot.com