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Eau de Cologne Sells Out in Turkey Amid COVID-19 Crisis

In the week following the first case reported in the country, purchases of eau de cologne shot up 256 percent, according to Ipsos.

While many countries saw their stock of hydroalcoholic gel plummet as soon as the coronavirus hit, Turkey had a run on another type of product: eau de cologne.

There, eau de cologne isn’t traditionally used as men’s scent. Rather, its historical purpose has been as a hand sanitizer, thanks to its high — 80 percent — alcohol content, explained Ahu Sendilmen, global and Turkey service leader, consumer panels and member at Ipsos market research company.

When people visit friends’ homes, for instance, eau de cologne is often proffered to clean hands, and in the past it was on offer in buses on routes through the provinces, alongside treats to eat.

Turkey’s Ministry of Health announced the country’s first case of COVID-19 on March 10, and in the days directly following, from March 11 to 17, Ipsos noted a significant change in people’s buying patterns.

Eau de cologne had “the biggest growth we saw among all the market categories,” said Sendilmen, referring to Ipsos’ study of 5,000 households’ purchases of fast-moving consumer goods.

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Between March 11 and 17, purchases of eau de cologne shot up 256 percent versus the prior week.

“All the shelves are empty at the moment,” said Sendilmen, adding Ipsos has never before noted such an uptick of eau de cologne buying.

“Purchase activity increased as the schools were closed and the spread of ‘Stay at Home Turkey’ statements, especially on the 16th and 17th of March,” Ipsos said in a statement. “Eau de cologne and vinegar were the most increased categories due to a need of protection from the virus and sanitization.”

Turkey’s top-selling eau de colognes are produced by homegrown brands and include: Rebul Kolonya, Duru Kolonya, Bogazici Kolonya and Taris Kolonya.

The most popular products have a lemon scent, Sendilmen said.