By  on December 14, 2006

PARIS - The shopping season has kicked off full of holiday cheer, since most European perfumeries expect to close 2006 with a single-digit to low-double-digit rise year on year.

Although some of that gain will be thanks to an easy comparison with 2005, when business was soft, an uptick in numerous Western European economies has contributed.Yet, that’s not to say fragrance is an easy sell these days. “Our competition is much broader than in the past,” said Damien Viel, fragrance category director at Marionnaud Parfumeries, with 560 doors in France, referring largely to electronics, which have in many instances supplanted fragrance as the must-have holiday gift.

“To be successful today, a scent introduction must be multidimensional and create a very strong impact at the retailer —visually, through sound, through smell and so on,” added Fabien Petitcolin, Printemps department store’s beauty buyer, overseeing 17 doors in France. “A page of advertising in a magazine is not enough. Of course, you have to recruit initially, but once a customer is in the store, you have to continue creating the dream and conveying the magic of the product.”

In a poll conducted by WWD of perfumery buyers representing 1,940 doors across France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., a handful of bestsellers were mentioned. Among the top eaux for women are Parfums Nina Ricci’s Nina, Guerlain’s Insolence, Dolce & Gabbana’s The One, Jil Sander’s Style, Hugo Boss’ Boss Femme and Parfums Giorgio Armani’s Armani Code. For men, Yves Saint Laurent Parfums’ L’Homme Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein’s Euphoria Men and Prada Amber Pour Homme were making waves Europe-wide. And then, of course, there are always the regional favorites.

For complete coverage of what people are saying about the state of the fragrance business on a country-by-country basis, see tomorrow's issue of WWD.

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