By  on May 20, 2011

As we were putting together this, our first fragrance issue, I asked Ron Robinson, the founder of BeautyStat.com, to canvas his members and ask them what drives their fragrance purchases. While some talked about buying into the gestalt of a specific brand or celebrity and others talked about the appeal of the bottle, most of the answers centered around the emotional appeal of scent. “What makes me buy a fragrance is, of course, how it smells, but more so how it makes me feel,” said Carol H. “I feel better about myself when I smell good. I love trying new fragrances and it’s a pick-me-up, especially if I’m not having a good day,” wrote Dana K. A contributor named MJ wrote: “To me, fragrances are very evocative of specific times and places, even people. I like to get a new fragrance to embody an event or time of my life. Whenever I smell that scent, I’m transported in time to the special moment.”

No one is better at creating compelling stories around fragrance franchises than this issue’s cover subject, Coty chief executive officer Bernd Beetz. Over the past decade, he has transformed Coty into a fragrance powerhouse by creating a three-pronged strategy consisting of celebrity, designer and lifestyle brands. Now Beetz has set his sights on dominating in skin care and makeup as well, with the goal of becoming a top-five beauty company by 2015. As Molly Prior reports in “The Player” on page 38, those who know the ubercompetitive executive say he is more than up to the challenge. To those companies already in the top five, including Beetz’s friend and tennis partner, Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. chief executive officer Fabrizio Freda: Consider yourself warned!

No one knows better than Beetz the challenges of the U.S. fragrance market, but as Pete Born writes in “The Age of Ambivalence” on page 30, the picture is growing rosier. A year of strong launches has helped propel sales to almost prerecession levels. Now, the question is whether marketers can reestablish the category’s relevance with a generation of young consumers who aren’t predisposed toward wearing scent.

Holding equal amounts of promise and challenge is Brazil. On the one side, you have a fast-growing middle-class population with an inherent affinity for beauty, particularly scent. On the other, you have punishingly high duties, an underdeveloped infrastructure and retail network and an extraordinarily competitive local landscape, as I discovered while reporting “The Power Within” on page 34. Find out what the future holds for international brands eager to make inroads in this developing nation.

What is a fragrance issue without an ode to the FiFi’s? As the Fragrance Foundation’s annual awards head back to Lincoln Center on May 22, we present our first insider’s guide to the event. Curious about what some of beauty’s most stylish executives are planning on wearing? Eager to plot the easiest route for your driver? Wondering what the industry’s favorite wordsmith, Procter & Gamble’s Don Loftus, might advise when it comes to making acceptance speeches? You’ll fi nd all of that and much more starting on page 18. Just as the best fragrances aim to transport, so, too, do we with each issue of WWD Beauty Inc. Drop me a line at jenny_fine@condenast.com and let me know how we’re doing.

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