By  on February 18, 1994

NEW YORK -- While the mass fragrance market has been lackluster lately, scented products of a different sort are selling quite well.

"Fragrance is probably the single motivating factor behind impulse purchases such as bath and body products," said Susan Swartz, senior cosmetics and fragrance buyer at I Got It At Gary's, Eagleville, Pa.

"It certainly overshadows any therapeutic benefits a product may have," she added. "We have some bath products that are really great for you, but they're slow sellers because they don't smell great."

According to a survey of retailers and manufacturers, fragrances with fruity notes are the fastest sellers, with light florals and ozonic blends coming in second.

"We tend to do better with lighter fragrances because people layer their bath and body products," said Gina Russo, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for The Rx Place in New York. "If you are going to use a shower gel, followed by a scented lotion and body powder, you certainly don't want to use a strong or overly sweet-smelling product. It would be overpowering.

"Lighter florals tend to appeal to a slightly older customer and are more of a gift-giving item," she continued. "Things like strawberry or raspberry tend to be more for everyday usage for a younger consumer."

"Fruity fragrances are something the customer can relate to for everyday usage," agreed Marty Cucinotta, health and beauty aids buyer for Revco of Twinsburg, Ohio.

"Fruit scents are not as distant as some of the other fragrances out there. I think aromatherapy is a limited market. Not everyone knows what it is or is familiar with the fragrances. Everyone knows what fruit looks and smells like."

Fragrance consultant Ann Gottlieb said the direction in bath and body has affected fine fragrance trends in department stores.

"We are seeing fragrances with a fair amount of fruitiness, such as Lancome's Tresor, becoming enormously popular with prestige customers," she said. "The edible part of it is a big issue. There is strong link between the olfactory sense and the taste buds.

"Fruity scents also make it more fun to bathe, since they are less serious than traditional scents," she added. "Since the fragrances are so light, people are much more concerned with the instant gratification of a bath product, rather than its lingering impression. Fruitier scents give more of an initial, bright burst than some of the others. That is what people want in bath products."

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