By  on November 17, 2011

For fragrance companies, it could be a merry Christmas indeed: the market could be up 5 to 7 percent for the year when factoring in holiday sales, noted Carrie M. Mellage, director of consumer products for Kline Group, the consulting and research firm.

Mellage was speaking at the Fragrance Foundation’s annual State of the Industry lunch, held Thursday at the Harvard Club in Manhattan. “In 2011, fragrance growth exceeded the industry average for the first time in a decade,” she added, noting that fragrance comprises about 9 percent of the overall personal care market, estimated to be about $56 billion for 2011. However, “the U.S. overall beauty market has surpassed prerecession levels, but the fragrance market has not — yet,” she said. Overall U.S. fragrance sales peaked in 2007 at $5.9 billion and dipped to $5.2 billion in 2008, staying flat until this year. Retail fragrance sales are expected to hit $5.5 billion this year in the U.S. Kline attributes the growth to a number of factors, including “frugal fatigue,” interesting new launches and a boom in foreign tourism.

There have also been an avalanche of launches of late. Michael Edwards of Fragrancesoftheworld.info, a database of the fragrance world, noted that, year-to-date, 1,200 new fragrances have been launched in 2011, with 80 percent of them sold in the U.S. That was compared to 1,180 launched in 2010; 372 in 2001, and just 76 in 1991. Of the fragrances launched in 2011, 766 of them were women’s scents, 305 were men’s and 129 were unisex. While there were no limited edition scents and just three flankers launched in 1991, in 2001 there were 32 limited edition scents launched and 52 flankers. Those numbers skyrocketed to 144 limited edition scents and 188 flankers in 2011.

And while many observers are fond of taking potshots at the celebrity fragrance genre, Edwards said that its popularity showed no signs of abating, with 73 celebrity scents launched this year. Also speaking at the lunch were Wendy Liebmann, chief executive officer of WSL Strategic Retail, who noted that the economy has forced women to be smarter shoppers and employ frugal tactics, and Lynn Franco of the Conference Board, who noted that market trends such as weak job growth and cautious spending do not bode well for a major recovery of the market in the near future. The affluent and shoppers between the ages of 35 and 54 are expected to be the biggest beauty spenders for the holiday season, she said.

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