Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Are we focusing enough on giving the consumer a reason to buy a second time?"

The Fragrance Foundation hosted the inaugural Executive Roundtable Discussion: “The Fall and the Rise of the Fragrance Industry,” at the French Institute / Alliance Fran├žaise on Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

The Fragrance Foundation President, Elizabeth Musmanno, led panelists Robin Burns-McNeill, Chairman and Co-Founder of Batallure Beauty; Michael Gould, former Chairman and CEO of Bloomingdale’s and Frederic Jacques, VP of Fine Fragrance NA at Takasago in a discussion that ranged from the challenges of growing the business in today’s economy, to the role of mobile and online retailing, to how best to reach millenials.

“The key to doing it right is to build desire and awareness. You have to understand who your consumers are and what media they use, and you have to build an imaginative plan to reach them,” said Robin Burns-McNeill, “There is a lot of sameness out there. Without imagination and courage, you tend to stay in one place. You have to be very agile. You need ‘fast feet.’”

“The challenge is not in the launch,” said Michael Gould. “The issue is what we do after. We need to build transactions into relationships. It’s about what creates excitement. People want an emotional connection. There is not a lack of traffic, there is a lack of conversion and a lack of follow-up.”

“We need innovation from the bottle to the packaging,” said Frederic Jacques. “Are we focusing enough on giving the consumer a reason to buy a second time?”

The Fragrance Foundation President, Elizabeth Musmanno ended the evening saying, “Clearly there is an opportunity for an innovative product to stand out.”

The Executive Roundtable series was conceived by The Fragrance Foundation to bring together industry veterans twice a year for a no-holds-barred look at the state of the fragrance industry.


  1. Anonymous15:59

    Is it just me, or are they not aware that the reason people buy a second time is that they like the juice!! Sigh.

    -- Lindaloo

  2. The real problem is that they create a scent that people like, and then they reformulate it so that it smells nothing like it used to. My mother adored Dior Addict so I bought her a large bottle for Mother's Day and she was deeply disappointed that it wasn't the same as her previous bottle — thinner, with no lasting power. I had to tell her all about reformulation and advise her that it was best these days not to get attached to a scent, because by the time you are ready to buy a second bottle, it will no longer be the same thing you fell in love with.

  3. Argh — not Dior Addict (though that's changed, too) but Hypnose by Lanc├┤me, which is not at all the same as the original launch.

  4. Anonymous07:50

    Like Lindaloo and Pyramus, I feel that they entirely miss the point - if you create a perfume that people like make sure that it smells the same thereafter or lose those customers! But part of me also thinks that we "perfumistas" are different to the majority of purchasers, who are probably very young and regularly buy something new for the sake of it and are enticed by packaging, marketing etc, and not so much the actual smell!


  5. Well, in short terms this may work a little bit. But after 10 years of cheapening the juice, focusing on the packaging and expanding, expanding, expanding, any "emotional relation" with perfume will be drowned.

  6. i agree with all of the above...brand loyalty is key to success..but if the product changes so does the loyalty...

  7. Anonymous16:58

    i wish i knew how to get my name on here so will try this once more

  8. Agreeing with all the comments above. I don't even purchase a full bottle anymore let alone a second bottle. I so often buy decants to ensure that I am not wasting my money on something that has changed for the worse. In the past I have too often spent over $100 on a new launch then let the bottle languish due to its weak or unpleasant fragrance. If they can't satisfy their customers on the first purchase, how can they possibly obtain return customers?

  9. Anonymous18:50

    i am trying to post again as i think i got the idea...we don't need new fragrances...the old ones are comforting...but then again i have no sense of sticking the old and mixing with keihl's orignial musk..enhances all those addition i would go with fragrant soaps...this is my new luxury gift to myself and to anyone who comes to my house!!!!!!!

  10. wow...what a stunningly obtuse bunch of marketers.

    as everyone above seems to be saying, they completely missed the point! people re-buy a product because they like it and want it again.

    here is a shocking idea: perhaps they could survey their customer base to see what consumers actually want, what they like, and why they buy or re-buy a given product. (or don't...)

    better still, they could hire me to deliver such an insight to them. :)

  11. If they Stop changing it or - this is my big "hate".... "Special Edition" so get it quick and buy , buy , buy - won't be back again ------ then you might get repeat customers!!!

    Oh ..... and stop paying $$$ to celeb's and models to advertise your products too!
    I Hate (its that word again Helg) to ADD more money to their pockets by having to pay even more $$ just for their mug (face) on a advert on TV or in the magazines.
    Yes perfume floggers - I don't buy a perfume because someone is Pretending to love and wear your scent! Save your money too - do better juice and watch me and other consumers come back and back again with a better produced perfume at a decent price !!!

    I have to go and relax now! :)

  12. I'd say no, you're not focusing on customers and much less return customers. An average consumer might go with the flow and like the idea of a famous spokesperson or a nice bottle. They might even like the perfume. They might just get it because it's the it scent or because a friend wears it. They aren't repeat customers; as soon as a new shiny new bottle comes along, they'll go after that. A more knowledgeable perfumista won't go go after all that, they'll follow their nose and gut. They'll buy something because they love or like it. With rising prices, cheapening of formulas and marketing, personally I'm not buying. Lose the marketing attitude, stop butchering scents (as much as possible thanks to IFRA), stop the flankering pleaseeeeee, up the quality so that it reflects on the price you expect us to pay, and then, only maybe, if you show some respect and appreciation for the customer, then the customer will show some respect for you. And please, we are not toddlers, we know reformulations. Be mature and admit what we know. It's for the best.

  13. Lindaloo,

    I think the thinking is solid (an emotional bond is important), but in today's world that rests rather too much on the sentimental to the point of…beneficiary illusion.
    If your love becomes unrecognizable, do you still love it?

  14. C,

    this is a problem I have found myself in on occasion. Sometimes the problem is the reformulation (in some distinct cases, I don't subscribe to the point of view that everything is ruined irrevocably). Sometimes it's the confusion: someone beloved or otherwise says they're using X perfume. But do they use version 1.0 (original launch), version 2.0 ("eau de toilette"), 3.0 (flanker #1, L'eau), 3.1 (L'eau sportive), 3.2 (l'eau sportive vivifiante), 3.3.(l'eau sportive effervescente with sparkling particles inside the bottle…), 4.0 (flanker "minuit"), 4.1 (minuit sans retour), 4.2 (minut sans retour au bal), 5.0 (I'm getting bored….)…..know what I mean???
    It's an Herculean task to distinguish the favored juice and zoom onto into, there are just SO EFFING MANY around!!!

    Advertising champions the new, but there's something to be said about keeping it easy to remember too!

    Sorry about your mother. It's so annoying to have something you love changed for ever.

  15. I wasn't even aware that Hypnose is still around!! (Thought it's discontinued, with only its flanker Hypnose Senses around)

  16. Jillie,

    you kno I used to think that perfumistas think differently from more conventional buyers, but the truth is there is not such a vast difference if you think about it, despite the arguably vast difference in experience and knoledge of course.
    Both categories of people need something that hits a certain seet spot for them; it doesn't uniuely pertain to the scent itself. Lots of perfumistas struggle to "get" something, just because it has a history and lore behind it; they don't instinctively like it, otherwise why the struggle? But the object in question (the perfume) has managed to create brand awareness, to drive desire, to establish itself as an icon, or a cult item, and that in itself provides the lure for the emotional bond ith the consumer. It validates the consumer, the same way that a status purchase or a celebrity perfume shared ith a famous singer's fans validates a certain manner of viewing things, of BEING.

    And I kinda feel it's a common fallacy in our circles to think that the majority of things are geared to the teen market that doesn't know any better. The purchasing money lies with a different demographic (the professional ladies in their 20s and 30s, the ladies who lunch and the men shopping for a gift), so the "extreme youth" factor can only account for so much. Agree?

  17. Idomeneus,

    I can't but wholeheartedly agree with that. Opium for instance has been weakened after decades of being such a strong brash thing; it's a let down one doesn't recover from.

  18. unknown,

    very aptly put!
    I think the industry is at a no man's land at this particular moment. They're reassessing the policy of the last decade and seeing the influence of the online world influencing purchases.

  19. mrs weiser,

    you did it perfectly, so welcome to PS!

  20. mrs weiser,

    you did it perfectly, so welcome to PS!

  21. JOY,

    exactly! Very true.
    But come to think of it, this is the reason so many ne things are out. As one makeup artist told me years ago as I contemplated a possible discontinuation of something I really digged "don't worry, by the time you run out there will be a new thing out to buy!" (she didn't get it, did she?)

  22. I forgot to add that this is also probably the reason the industry is opposed to decant sales: the itch is scratched and there is then no need to upgrade to a full bottle! ;-)

  23. mrs eiser,
    smart move, soap doesn't go bad either!!
    Thanks for commenting. I like your approach of underscoring ith Kiehl's, it's really something.

  24. NFS,

    it's a bit of a wonder, I agree, since the industry DOES have an extensive network of focus groups etc. (Are you sure you'd like to be part of that?? LOL)
    These are made up by consumers. But the trouble is the method is skewed to begin with. The products are compared to already successful -in market terms- products and the consumer is bent on giving high marks to familiar things (it's human psychology 101), therefore the market re-perpetuates itself unto eternity. This way nothing shall change, like ever. So unless a different method is introduced or there are tools to access qualitatively (besides just quantitatively) the impact of a given product and its reception by the market, things are bound to remain like this and interest in repeat purchases is going to decline.

  25. M,

    I love your rants! They're special because I kno they're keenly felt. :-D

    I believe the modern industry could learn a lot from Francois Coty and his innovative concept of offering fragrance. Good product, eye catching design at a decent price.

    But you kno the crisis has divided the world into the even richer and the rather poorer and the luxury axis has been re-calibrated. Suddenly 100$ is the new cheap and one has to peddle their products at 300$ a pop to establish "luxury" status. Never mind that everyone is copying one another in that regard (the price competitiveness I mean),

    As to celebrities, perfume is part of their "brand". If people just stop clicking on the gossip concerning them (*thus generating value*), the market value share drops and the "brand" becomes non sensical. ;-)

  26. Alexander,

    you have a perfect point in everything you say.
    The problem is (and perfumephiles can't admit it, as shown by my previous Tauer marketing interview) perfumephiles do NOT represent a big segment of the market; even the niche market or the luxury market. People that are not vocal, do not have blogs, do not have perfume wardrobes, buy loads perfume at 300$ a pop because it sounds like a luxury thing and "in the kno" and therefore fill the pockets of the niche and luxury companies. They don't need US. They need to keep pleasing their biggest segment of purchasers, because these are the purchasers that shall continue to buy (repeat or not) and they shall continue to buy at even more elevated prices in the future if they perceive this as a sign of status/luxury.

    1. Unfortunately you are right Elena. But people will eventually get tired, and as they say things come but things also go, and at some point everyone will want some quality.

  27. A,

    I sincerely hope so! This is indeed the missing element. But with so much product out there, there can be no attention to quality any more. So the implosion of the market, like Andy says, might take care of that… :-D


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