Republished and adapted with permission from IMA – Imogen Matthews.
Fragrance may well be the largest sector within UK premium beauty. But it’s also the flattest.
While innovation, fashion, and online sales are powering growth in premium make-up and skincare, fragrance has struggled to keep up. In many ways, it’s remains rooted to the spot, relying, as it has, on discounting, Christmas, and selling gifts. Meanwhile, make-up and skincare have forged ahead with new ideas and concepts. A consistent journey of invention that can be felt from product design to the shop floor.
Despite the plethora of new launches, you can’t avoid the feeling that the fragrance industry is playing it safe. That it’s operating a mantra of: “If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always got.”
Unfortunately, in today’s fast-moving world that no longer works. To do what you’ve always done, will invariably get you less. You only have to look at other industries to see where brands have failed to heed the winds of change.
HMV was caught out by the rapid switch of consumers’ preferences for all things digital, while Woolworth just never kept up with competitive retail pressures and people’s changing shopping habits. Are fragrance players also becoming complacent, or even fearful of doing things differently? Neither is good news for the industry. By continuing to focus on the things that have worked in the past, they will surely miss out on the huge potential other beauty sectors are embracing. The businesses that are winning tend to be ones that have taken calculated risks and embraced change.
Opportunities for Fragrance to Up the Ante in Retail
No one can say that the fragrance industry hasn’t been putting in the effort. 2016 saw thousands of new scents released onto the market and the amount of retail space also swelled. It’s just that there’s been too much of the same for too long. Launching endless flankers, limited editions, and short-term products is a lackluster way of engaging with the consumer.
Also, choice is only useful if it can be well navigated. Rows of boxes and bottles, no matter how beautifully packaged, is overwhelming. Where is the aspiration and exclusivity?
The industry needs to get back to what made it great. A focus on brand values and, above all, the scent. It’s what consumers want above all else, as confirmed by the latest research in The Fragrance Report – scent is the number-one factor that drives purchase.
The industry has to swing the focus back onto the smell of the fragrance. It’s about bringing scent to life, telling stories and connecting with the consumer. Only then can fragrance regain its personality and allure. And where better than in retail? Consumers love to be entertained in immersive experience and this is where the fragrance industry can really push ahead. In beauty, Sephora exemplifies this approach.
Sephora Raises the Bar for Premium Beauty
An article in the New York Times (May 11, 2017) discussed how Sephora is thriving amid a retail crisis.
Ranked the leading global specialty beauty retailer by Euromonitor, the company is setting the standard for the whole premium beauty category with its virtual assistants, Instagram videos, bloggers, and YouTube stars.
Instead of one-to-one advice with a sales assistant, the counter has been replaced by a plethora of “advisors” on YouTube.
Factor in a mobile app with augmented reality and digital workstations where customers can attend workshops and this makes for an exciting, buzzy sales environment. And specifically for fragrance, Sephora has introduced an innovative way of introducing consumers to a wide range of fragrances. It’s called Smell-0-Vision and is a touch screen with a fan that wafts out different styles of scents, such as floral, oriental, or earthy. In other words, the scents that characterize most fragrances.
Sephora understands what their customers want and never rests in developing new ideas to satisfy their needs. They have become the beauty industry paradigm that all brands and retailers should study carefully. What a refreshing approach to fragrance retailing. It’s not about ignoring the opportunities afforded by selling online, but melding the two to create a more dynamic, interactive physical environment.
In The Fragrance Report, we delve deeper into the reasons motivating consumers to buy fragrance.
Phot0: Jessica Weiller via Unsplash