Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Top 10 Best-Selling Feminine Fragrances for First Quarter of 2013 (USA)

How do people decide what to buy? The million dollar question for the marketing and research & development sectors in the fragrance industry isn't answered by previous best-selling perfume lists but the latter do give a glimpse into how the preferences shift in the x and y axis (x for time, y for market) and therefore in a way help shape the future market. Continuing therefore on our posts on Top Popular Fragrances for 2012 (France) , and Bestseller perfumes for women for 2011 (USA) today I bring you a collection of the most popular fragrances in the mainstream circuit in America. As you can see there are unshakeable mainstays, which have at the very least through sheer bulk of sales earned the badge of modern classic, and there are newcomers, usually propelled to the very front of the line in part thanks to a major advertising launch that involves famous, familiar faces fronting the campaigns.

via Ade/Pinterest
Gucci advert for Guilty featuring actor Chris Evans

In no particular order these are the best-selling fragrances in department stores across the US right now:

J'Adore (Christian Dior)
Guilty (Gucci)
Flowerbomb (Viktor & Rolf)
La Vie est Belle (Lancôme)
Brit (Burberry)
Angel (Thierry Mugler)
No.5 (Chanel)
Miss Dior [modern version] (Dior)
Light Blue (Dolce & Gabbana)
Coco Mademoiselle (Chanel)

Honorable mentions for Hanae Mori (Hanae Mori) and Viva La Juicy (Juicy Couture) and there is an augmenting segment for Jimmy Choo, Chloe, Lanvin, Coach and Marc Jacobs thanks to the new fragrant launches.

Burberry is a strong player in both the US and international market with a 53% increase in its sales total (calculated at 83,1 millions of euros) for the first trimester of 2013 according to Interparfums who hold the license for the brand.

What do you think about this list? Do you smell these fragrances often in your midst? Share in the comments. 


  1. yes, i smell many of these around town on a friday or saturday night...all the time. *yawn*

    stop into any sephora branch, and those are what you'll see on the shelf, hence, those are what you will be smelling on 75-80% of your fellow humans. i don't think there's anything wrong with any of the individual perfumes per se, and i'm not a snob about "exclusivity" nor do i equate difficulty of procurement with desirability; but it's just so boring to smell the same things over and over again, everywhere you go. in another season, or next year, sephora and its clone stores will bump some of these perfumes in favor of newer releases from the same houses or along the same lines, with a soupcon of the latest "celebrity" scents, and then we'll all be smelling those for heaven knows how long. a little diversity, a little individuality, would be so refreshing!

  2. Anonymous14:26

    horrible fragrances ...lol

  3. Anonymous14:32

    Interesting! Must check a few out but, what about the lower end fragrance..

  4. annemariec00:40

    No surprises really except that there is no Lauder fragrance on that list. I was interested to see that La Vie est Belle is (so far) paying off for Lancome.

    I suppose the range of popular fragrances - the fragrances that people actually buy again and again - has always been relatively small. Once upon a time it was Emeraude, or Soir de Paris, or Bluegrass,or Charlie!, Or Anais Anais, or Pleasures, or L'eau d'Issey, or CkOne, etc. I don't think we can expect diversity; most people don't think deeply about their perfume purchases, they just buy the 'smell nice' perfume of the day.

    It's the same with books - want something to read on the train? Most people wander into a bookshop and buy the first bestseller or prominently displayed new release that takes their fancy.

  5. Now I know why they dump So much $$$$ into advertising!!! LOL

    I would not buy one of those.

  6. NFS,

    I think you nailed it. This is why placement plays such a huge part in marketing. What you see is what you buy, well, most of the time, if you don't know any better ;-)

  7. Anon,

    well, they're not horrible exactly, I wouldn't go that far (at least for some) but they have become ubiquitous and that has "burned" any of their distinguished qualities, if that makes sense. So many people use them the wrong way too! *hold nose from overspraying of Angel*

  8. Joanna,

    I believe in the lower end of the US market you will find it crammed with Bath & Body Works, Victoria's Secret and the celebrity scent du jour. These sell incredibly well by all accounts.
    There are of course a couple of mainstays from past eras, though I don't know how low or middle end exactly they're considered to the average American buyer (Liz Clairborne Curve, Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds etc).

  9. AMC,

    I suppose that Lauder is within that group, somewhat lower in the list. There can be no US list without some Lauder really. But they haven't brought out a smashing hit that would appeal to the 25-34 demographic recently (their BG is extremely popular to that crowd but it's a seasonal release so it doesn't count) compared to the rest of the designer brands (Chanel, Dior), which affects their percentages.
    Lauder still have, via their skincare and makeup too, a more "mature" profile in the US. on the contrary Dior especially has invested heavily in attracting the young (to catastrophic results sometimes!), enhanced by the fashion directives. Lauder simply doesn't have that tool. :-/

    Totally agree with your comment about staple of huge hits and their rotation and about the placement of products influencing decisions (see my reply above to No Fixed Stars)

  10. M,

    it goes without saying that they must know what they're doing. No one (least of all L'Oreal who holds Lancome licence) throws money out of the window! Sometimes the results are ridiculous of course (Pitt and No.5).

    Hmmm, I would buy No.5 and Angel (in the most minuscule bottle available because this stuff lasts a lifetime, it's so potent!!), though I would prefer their vintage versions to what currently circulates. At any rate I'm well stashed, so no need. Plus I have so many perfumes which are more "me" than those.

  11. Miss Heliotrope08:47

    I wonder what my purchases in some field I care less about (than perfume) say to those obsessives about me?

    I would like to know how people feel about these scents - why they buy these ones, if they find they give them pleasure - if so, they can buy them, & I'll go on buying thick soled work-boots for everyday wear...

  12. Mary P.16:19

    I am a perfumista newbie and I have tried (but don't own) all of those fragrances. With the exception of Light Blue (which doesn't really work on me) I like them all and I like a lot of non-mainstream unique, niche, even strange genre fragrances as well. Echoing annemarie's thoughts, just like any other consumer good, most people just purchase items that meet their desires, that work, that might have been peer recommended, and that are convenient and/or inexpensive. Not everyone has the means or the desire to purchase original 'art', and that has to be okay. Just as long as artists continue to create and have venues to exhibit, and there are those who continue to appreciate and support what they do, that's really all that matters to me. When I wear something vintage, unusual or niche I know that no one else will be, and that is part of the fun :)

  13. Rather conservative - 7 of them are at least 10 years old. Maybe younger consumers don't play such a crucial role after all.

    No.5 1921
    Angel 1992
    J’adore 1999
    Light Blue 2001
    Coco Mademoiselle 2001
    Flowerbomb 2005
    Brit 2003

    Guilty 2010
    Miss Dior [modern version] (Dior) 2011
    La Vie est Belle (Lancôme) 2012

  14. Ariadne00:06

    Top selling? But exactly WHO and what percent of all women are buying? Methinks the number is dwindling the more that the "masses" are discovering alternatives.... say via the perfume blogs. ;+)
    I had a lady ask me for my scent at the supermarket deli counter a few days ago and she wrote it down on the scrap of paper containing her grocery list. My scent was NOT any of the frags on this list but I could tell she wanted it BADDDD!!! She couldn't praise it enough! (Cartier's Baiser Vole). IMHO the big houses are losing ground because they cannot by nature offer diversity or differentiation.

  15. patricia01:58

    I heartily agree with nofixedstar, miss jicky and others. I have no attraction to heavily advertised brands or what "everyone" else runs to buy. I did smell the scent stip in a magazine :Ivana Trump's new fragrance and it was elegant powdery fresh. Chanel#5 of course is exquisite. Most others are probably a play on already marketed well selling scents. I am trying more niche perfumes:Serge Lutens etc. The tried and true (Shalimar for instance) are the bomb. Sorry Flower Bomb. Patricia

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  17. MH,

    if we are what we eat, then why can't we be what we buy? :-D

    Your question is indeed the focus of the industry: why people buy what they buy? I think it boils down to having something in front of them for the picking at the right moment and accessorized with a veil of desirability (this varies with the individual and the product, hence the relative diversity of best-sellers); some buy status, some buy peer acceptance, others buy memories and a few buy what spontaneously hits them as "smelling great" (those last ones have potential as perfumistas!)

  18. M,

    thanks for chiming in and commenting with your experience and POV. It is as you say.

    Personally I believe that perfume being a commercial commodity first and foremost (it is conceived that way) it usually is best described as a craft. A refined one, but to be art it needs to meet other criteria; not that it cannot be, mind you.

    There's such a wide variety of brands and price points today that anyone can wear what strikes them as the proper thing at any given moment. The "exclusivity" involved with niche has been a major advantage of course, you're absolutely right!

  19. Idomeneus,

    good observation, thanks!

    Yes, best-selling lists are conservative by default. For something to reach the status of best-seller (and gain momentum through sheer familiarity of smelling it on people and being peer pressured sometimes) there needs to be a few years behind its launch. The industry professionals I had spoken to used to say that anything that survives the 3 year mark with solid sales has a potential to "make it". (I don't if with 1000 releases a year this margin has dropped down significantly, though I doubt it).

    In your own chronological list, if you notice, with the exception of No.5 (and maybe Brit or Flowerbomb? I don't know), everything else is a modern classic, either through meeting a certain zeitgeist need, being the first to say a particularly something strong enough or through ubiquitousness.

    To further this thought, I also think Miss Dior is a modern classic, though I suppose this has to do with the brand of Miss Dior (Cherie) as a marketing concept more, rather than the smell itself (because it changes all the time!!!)

    As to the young making decisions that affect best-selling lists: They assuredly hold a major piece of the cake; it just doesn't show on the very very top (as here) because the bulk of repeat sales and gift sales is made by people in the 35-50 group. The young's preferences are distinctly clear in the 10th to 20th top billings where things like Bieber, VS, Marc Jacobs, Coach and BBW appear. They're buying into hipness & cool or a quick fix, not socioeconomic status, like the over 25 do.

  20. A,

    perfect point, thank you for bringing it to the table.

    I know that people are increasingly seeking alternatives. Every research I have read about market preferences and market assessment points to the luxe and niche sectors being the only ones growing. Exponentially too!
    I like to think that blogs and boards have contributed to that increased awareness.

    Fun about the Cartier exchange with the lady! Now, allow me to dissect a bit: You were buying at the deli both. So we know that she wants something she perceives as 'diverse" and quality in other areas of her life too. Cartier is not as weird out as CDG for instance, but their BV is a bit different than most (and very nice). Powdery is also perceived as classy. So essentially (no pun intended) we have a discerning lady (she was mid-30s I suppose?) going for what smells to her like something mildly different and classy. No surprises there! ;-) :-)

  21. P,

    we seem to be in agreement. There are mainstream gems as are niche ones and they're irrespective of sales top-billing or not; they exist hight and low.
    Btw, I always found FB extremely sweet. I guess that excess was its selling point.

    Thanks for commenting.

  22. P,

    we seem to be in agreement. There are mainstream gems as are niche ones and they're irrespective of sales top-billing or not; they exist hight and low.
    Btw, I always found FB extremely sweet. I guess that excess was its selling point.

    Thanks for commenting.

  23. Anonymous15:28

    A few of those seem to be the same fragrances heavily pushed in the Duty Free area at Heathrow, which I had the pleasure of visiting yesterday. Gucci Guilty had a huge display. As did, Dior, Cartier, Cachaerl and Burberry. All different ethnicities were quite caught up with sampling and buying.

    I love Chanel No. 5 in all its forms and I love Flowerbomb but in the extrait only. It's very smooth and I love the way it smells.

    I don't care if the fragrances I wear are in the top 10 or the bottom 10, mainstream or niche. I buy what I like and what smells good on me and makes me feel good. Marketing be damned! I have to like it and all the marketing in the world won't make me buy a fragrance if my nose or skin does not like it.

    By the way, I bought a nice sized bottle of Chanel No 5 in the Extrait from Heathrow yesterday. Saved me a $100.00 plus tax if I were to buy it here in the USA.


  24. D,

    oh great!!! Love what you bought (and the RD too! will review it , now you have mentioned it!), the extrait is really the way to go with classic Chanels. No other way around it. Drop by drop, pure beauty.

    To be honest *ducking* I haven't tried the extrait of Flowerbomb (yet). The weaker concentration was so very powerful I didn't hold much faith in the parfum being less so, but if you say it's smooth and wearable, I'm game. Will give it a try! :-)

  25. Barbara21:18

    Would love to smell Chanel. No. 5 on someone even though I don't like it on myself. Of these scents I smell Light Blue all the time on young women during the day, and Angel at night!

  26. B,

    funny, eh? Where are you located? I hear US women saying they don't smell Chanel No.5 on people, and yet it apparently makes it to the best-selling lists, so I wonder whether gift giving accounts for all the sales or whether women choose it only for special occasions. Who knows...
    Here I do smell No.5 on people sometimes, with no particular demographic in my experience, it's totally random (and there are a few who also wear some No.5 dupe from what I can judge off the air at the street; local pharmacies have their own recipes for that, so makes sense).

    I agree on the other two you mention: I smell them here as well. LB in summer, A in winter. Irrespective of day/night.

  27. Hi dear E,

    This list is really interesting. I'm just curious -- what is the source of the data?


  28. Joe,

    thanks for asking.
    It's based on sales figures via Sephora and Macy's contacts, crossed-checked with industry reports from Interparfums, Gucci Group and LVMH. (I could have even compared them to the forecasts previously issued by the Euromonitor International, but that would have been too much work on my hands. Next time.)

  29. Anonymous22:17

    these fragrances are not so recent at least not all of them. I do like J'Adore but what about the new Jimmy Choo "Flash" or the new Lady Million fragrance which is really nice also.

  30. Anon,

    no, they're not, but best-sellers rarely are; established perfumes usually top the lists and that takes some time (to become established, I mean)
    I'm sure the ones you mention do nicely enough, even without endorsement. :)


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