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The Parallel Trajectories of Apparel and Beauty, Part II: The Allure of Luxury Fashion in Fragrances

October 2nd, 2013
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IStock_000018310014XSmallAnalyst Insight by Nicole Tyrimou – Analyst, Beauty and Personal Care
and Ashma Kunde – Analyst, Apparel and Footwear

In the second article of this series, Euromonitor International
examines the evolving relationship between fashion and fragrance.

The global fragrances industry is being propelled ahead, primarily on
account of Brazil, which is set to account for a third of overall
growth over 2012-2017. However, Brazilian consumers’ strong preference
for mass fragrances is eroding premium brands’ share of the overall
category. In light of this price competition, premium brands have been
looking for an edge.

While some premium players are using smaller packaging and body mists
to lower their average ticket prices, others are seeking to justify
their high prices through bespoke formulations. However, most
interestingly, we have observed fashion alignment in branding emerging
as a key competitive advantage.

Fashion brands rule premium rankings

This is not such an unexpected development as fashion brands dominate
the fragrance rankings across the world, including in the emerging
regions. In fact, 14 of the top 30 global fragrance brands come from
fashion houses. In premium it’s even higher, with nine of the top 10
best-selling fragrances globally in 2012 coming from fashion houses. The
main reasons for fashion brands’ love affair with fragrances are their
ability to evoke emotions and stories, their artisanal nature and of
course their accessibility to the consumer.

To best exemplify fashion’s power in fragrances one must look at the
golden beauty industry in China, where fragrances is still one of the
smallest categories, with less than 6% of skin care’s sales in 2012.
However, despite cultural barriers, China is expected to be one of the
top five fastest growing markets for premium fragrances both in
percentage and in absolute terms over 2012-2017, showcasing how the
category is evolving. This is partly due to Chinese consumers’
fascination with fashion brands, with nine of the 10 best-selling
premium fragrances coming from either Chanel or Christian Dior in 2012.

Fashion’s influence on fragrance branding

With Generations Y and Z becoming increasingly crucial, fashion is
proving to be a useful marketing tool in capturing the attention of
these demographics. LVMH’s Guerlain, despite having no fashion division,
launched La Petit Robe Noir in 2012. In its bid to target a younger
demographic, the brand chose to associate itself with the bastion of
fashion, the iconic little black dress, and has met with great success.

Likewise, British perfumer Jo Malone, similarly bearing no direct
links with fashion, chose an unconventional way to link its fragrances
with the industry through the launch of its latest creation, Peony &
Blush Suede Cologne. While fabric scents have traditionally been a
popular element in fragrance formulation, their profile has been boosted
of late by an increasing number of launches specifically named after
them, from Jo Malone’s latest scent to Yves Saint Laurent’s Noble

Even fashion houses themselves are using links to clothing to promote
their fragrances, with Gucci’s latest Made to Measure for men being a
prime example. The fragrance references the brand’s bespoke tailoring
service which was launched in 2011, and was also fronted by Mr James
Franco. This launch runs in the same vein as that of Gucci Premiere,
which drew inspiration from the brand’s couture line. This type of
intrinsic linking highlights how fragrances have emerged as a tool for
fashion houses wishing to create a more holistic lifestyle brand.

High street brands try their hand at premium fragrances

The relationship between fashion and fragrance has been manifesting itself in more than marketing associations.

From an apparel perspective, while designer fashion brands use
fragrances as an accessible means for consumers to buy into their brand,
the reverse has also become evident, with mass-market brands using
fragrances to add a bit of luxury to their product offering.

British high street brand Reiss launched a fragrance in September in a
bid to evoke a more luxury feel to its name. Managing Director David
Reiss likened the sensory response of a bespoke fragrance to that of
beautiful garment fabrication. The fragrances will not just be sold at
the brand’s boutiques but also at premium department store Selfridges,
further highlighting the product’s aspirational image.

Some mass apparel brands have already made their mark in fragrances.
For example, Abercrombie & Fitch offers a selection of fragrances
which are completely in sync with the brand's heavily perfumed stores.
Lingerie market leader Victoria's Secret has also found success in
fragrances by transferring its ultra-feminine image to its products.
Victoria’s Secret continues to be one of the top 10 fragrance brands in
the US, with sales of nearly US$200 million in 2012.

Olfactory branding and storytelling

The strength of scent in branding as well as for evoking emotions is
becoming increasingly visible, with apparel brands employing olfactory
branding as a means of generating footfall, as well as completing the
brand experience. From high street brands like H&M to high fashion
houses like Bottega Veneta and Calvin Klein, retailers are placing
nearly as much importance on the scent of their stores as their

The success of both luxury and certain mass apparel brands in
fragrances emphasises the importance of image and branding in this
category as it is the one beauty area where storytelling is of utmost
importance. With its ability to evoke emotions and complete a look,
fragrance appeals to a consumer’s personality in the same way as a
fashion accessory. Its position as an ‘affordable luxury’ and the
intriguing creative process behind its formulation will continue to
 fashion and high street brands alike to expand in the category.

On the other side, the fragrance industry is expected to continue to
draw inspiration from fashion, whether by using fabric scents in
formulations, branding products in tandem with fashion lines or
promoting a fragrance ‘wardrobe’ to consumers.

Have a question or a thought to add? Leave us a comment below.