The Smell of a Paradigm Shift in the Global Fragrance Market: From Celebrity Scents to Lifestyle Tribes

Celebrity fragrances continue to wane replaced by a new genre of hysteria; an aspirational lifestyle. While celebrity status may continue to play a part, the core purchase motivation has shifted from aspiring to imitate one person to being part of a community or a cult. This theme is one of several explored in a recent Euromonitor International global report entitled Bitter Sweet: The Smell of a Paradigm Shift in the Global Fragrance Market.

Today’s celebrity fragrance successes lie in the likes of Ariana Grande, a pop star and social media sensation, and Zoella, a pure-digital influencer. Fundamentally, success is down to authenticity and the ability to convince the consumer of an attainable lifestyle, which breeds consumer tribalism.

UK fast-fashion retailer Missguided launched its debut fragrance, Babe Power, earlier this year and it proceeded to make headlines for outperforming even the most consistent of top sellers. The Missguided brand is not fronted by a celebrity, nor is it a beacon of luxury. However Missguided is relatable, relevant and it has an emotionally-invested young tribe behind it, much like Victoria’s Secret and Hollister before it. With social media acting as an enabler, today’s consumer tribalism is more driven by a youngster’s status and belonging within a defined consumer group, than identifying with the product itself.

Meanwhile, fragrance offerings from the likes of Rihanna and Beyoncé have not achieved market disruption in recent years, despite both women’s high profile and respect within their industry. The disconnect between celebrity status and triumph in the fragrance world highlights the necessity for something more than a famous face. This notion is most pertinent among younger consumers with less money, for whom becoming a part of a universal group is more achievable than aiming for exclusivity.

These market leaders have also lured many mass fragrance consumers away from the typical potent fragrance formats, towards cheaper and more transitory replacements which elongate scent routines; think Victoria’s Secret and Hollister body sprays. The trend for personalisation, mixed with a yearning for nostalgic child’s play, has aided this movement for layering scents. Of course scent layering is a practice more conducive to the mass segment due to the price barriers of owning a premium fragrance wardrobe. As a result, sales of deodorants and body mists have, to an extent, cannibalised sales of mass fragrances in key developed markets. These products are replacing everyday fragrance usage, whilst consumers save for a more indulgent scent for special occasions and social events.