As a tool for wellness and self-expression, fragrance has taken on new meaning in consumers’ lives, and fresh trends are emerging
Hair perfumes, mood-boosting scents and trending notes are among this year’s report highlights
This article was originally published in the Fragrance Trend Report. Receive your copy here.
Storytelling is at the heart of fragrance, and its latest tale is a captivating one.
Fragrance has enjoyed a boom period as consumers rediscovered the ability of scent to positively impact mood and wellbeing, and in 2023, it continues to stand out as a category in fierce demand.
As consumers spend more and wellness exerts a growing influence on development, the sillage of its modern-day revival has persisted despite the rising cost of living.
“We have seen a very strong performance since the start of 2023. We could have expected a slowdown, but this is not the case,” says Mathilde Lion, Executive Director, Global Client Development at Circana (formerly NPD and IRI).
The latest data from January to March 2023, reveals growth of 15% in the US and 10% in the UK.
This is on the back of double-digit sales throughout last year across many countries globally in 2022, bringing the fragrance market to a value of $57.4bn in 2022 according to Euromonitor International.
Price rises have clearly had an impact on value growth, but consumers are spending more on fragrances for different reasons too.
One of the most important drivers is the focus on wellbeing which has seen an emphasis on wearing fragrance for oneself rather than for others. “Fragrances are not seen so much as being used for social behaviour, but for what it can bring to your own mood,” says Lion, “this is very important.”
Arnaud Guggenbuhl, Head of Fine Fragrances Global Marketing Insight & Image at Givaudan, adds: “The need for wellness, but also to live ever more immersive and advanced experiences, or even to be in tune with oneself and to reveal one’s authenticity, are all drivers that explain why the industry is doing well and will continue to do well.”
There is also a premiumisation trend as consumers are willing to spend more on better quality, long lasting perfume to find the fragrance that completely meets their needs. Consumers on a budget are also increasingly exploring ways to buy the luxury fragrances they want for less – whether that’s through miniature formats or hair perfumes.
The result, says Emily Austin, Senior Marketing Executive at CPL Aromas, is that: “Consumers are demanding more from their products, whether it is added claims, multi-use or longer lasting fragrance, consumers want to believe they are receiving added value when making a purchase.”
Here, Cosmetics Business gives a taster of five of the latest fragrance trends impacting the industry right now.
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Trend 1: ‘Beast mode’ fragrances
Fragrance has taken a super powerful turn. Scan through social content and conversations across multiple platforms, from online fragrance communities like Basenotes and Fragrantica to YouTube and TikTok, and the term ‘beast mode’ soon appears.
Most often associated with men’s fragrances, the term describes powerful, noticeable and ultra tenacious fragrances that last at least ten hours, and sometimes up to 18 hours or more.
Highly concentrated fragrances, some of the most frequently cited examples of scents labelled as beast mode fragrances include Sauvage Elixir by Dior and Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s BaccaratRouge 540 (both the Extrait and the Eau de Parfum).
While it is no new concept for perfumers to actively strive for longevity in their fragrance creations, it’s what consumers have been increasingly looking for. Cosmetics Business finds out why – and whether ‘beast mode’ is here to stay.
Trend 2: Energy-raising scents
When the beauty giants start investing, it’s a sure sign that a trend is getting serious.
Estée Lauder Companies’ New Incubation Ventures’ recent investment in Vyrao, a brand which says its fragrances are designed to “connect us to ourselves and raise our energy” demonstrates ELC’s “belief in the opportunity where fragrance and wellness meet,” says Simon Murray, Brand Manager of The Red Tree.
The connection between wellness and fragrance has always existed, but over the past couple of years, it has become one of the key reasons why consumers are investing more in fragrances.
Today, 71% of fragrance wearers look for a scent that lifts their mood, according to Circana.
And now a new crop of brands are thriving with fragrances that consumers can use to amplify their intention and boost their energy, and ultimately, bring their mood to the centre of their fragrance story.
Trend 3: Zeitgeist notes
Fragrance notes may waft in and out of fashion, but they endlessly capture the spirit of the times. Consider patchouli – a a note synonymous with the 60s, and a symbol of peace and love.
Or amber, which was used in some of the most iconic 80s fragrances, and reflected the opulence of the power-driven decade.
The notes that come to the fore in perfumery are already in the air – and they can also say a great deal about how consumers are feeling, and how they want to feel.
Here, Cosmetics Business highlights three fragrance notes that are trending in 2023, and finds out how they are capturing the zeitgeist.
Trend 4: China: the fragrance battleground
Given that only 5% of its population currently wears fragrance, the buzz and fervour around China’s perfume market may initially seem puzzling.
Legions of international perfume brands have been clamouring to enter the country, while local fragrance brands have been attracting investment from the biggest multinationals.
The reason why China’s fine fragrance market is garnering so much attention is that it is on the cusp of exploding due to the rapid uptake of fragrance among millennials and Gen Z. But what do we know about the perfume preferences of these cohorts?
Trend 5: Hair perfume
Unassuming agents of the fragrance world, hair perfumes have long played second fiddle to the main event – the pillar edp or edt.
But while they may have once been viewed as superfluous (albeit delightful) indulgences, hair perfumes are taking on fresh appeal with cost-conscious consumers due to their lower price tag.
At a time when inflation has risen exponentially, hair perfumes offer consumers a way to experience the same scent at a fraction of the cost of the regular perfume, giving an option to consumers who still want to buy their desired brand, rather than opt for a dupe.
And the budget-friendly hack is catching on: hair perfume is now the fastest growing fragrance trend on TikTok according to Spate, with views up 35% in the last month.
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