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Personalization, Niche Seen as Top Spring Fragrance Trends

Retailers say indie and artisanal labels will drive sales this season.

Niche fragrances continue to dominate beauty counters — not to mention the attention of major beauty groups on the prowl for acquisitions.

This upsurge in demand for niche scents, and a younger consumer demanding a more personalized shopping experience, has forced retailers to provide a more varied stream of options as shoppers seek to outfit their own fragrance wardrobes with indie and artisanal labels.

Neiman Marcus counts the niche and luxury fragrance category as one of the retailer’s fastest-growing segments of beauty, as does Sephora, which continues to build on its assortment.

At Sephora, Brooke Banwart, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of fragrance for the retailer, noted that the season’s top-sellers so far include Tom Ford Soleil Blanc, Pinrose Sun Saint, Atelier Clémentine California and fragrances from Juliette Has a Gun.

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This is also the case at Saks Fifth Avenue, where Kate Oldham, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for beauty, lingerie and swim, maintained that artisanal scents remain strong sellers among consumers this spring. She listed EB Florals, Ex Nihilo and Penhaligon’s as standouts in the niche space.

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Personalization will be another key sales-driver for spring, particularly in the luxury sector. It’s a trend retailers cited as critical to capturing the minds and wallets of consumers.

“Clients are seeking…something that is not everywhere. Fragrances that are created based upon stories, travels and memories appeal to clients today. They are engaged with fragrances that have meaning versus just a designer name,” said Kelly St. John, vice president, divisional merchandise manager for beauty at Neiman’s.

Banwart said a client seeking “something that is uniquely them, something personal,” has become a priority when shopping for scent.

“This has opened up opportunities for the fragrance industry to innovate and think differently in the fragrance category,” Banwart said of Sephora’s continued investment in in-store technology and tools that aim to educate, from the updated Fragrance IQ navigation tool to Sephora’s Fragrance Studios’ new InstaScent technology.

“[InstaScent] helps clients navigate our offerings and demystify fragrance notes and families to find them the perfect fragrance that’s just right for them,” Banwart explained.

From an ingredient standpoint, rose, while always a staple in fragrance, is seeing a renewed focus. Diptyque, Jo Malone and Maison Francis Kurkdjian are among the brands that have introduced rose-centric fragrances — and consumers are biting, Oldham said.

She also noted that flankers are being given fresh life with the help of some creative marketing tactics.

“We’re seeing the transformation of some of our favorite fragrances with fresh, new notes,” Oldham said, adding that Clive Christian will launch Twists, a reimagined collection of its original scents.

For instance, Derek Lam 10 Crosby introduced Parfum Sticks a, solid stick perfume version of the original fragrances he launched in 2015. The $38 Parfum Sticks, which bowed earlier this month, are available in the top five scents from his 10-piece collection.

Banwart agreed with Oldham, regarding the reintroduction of longstanding scents. She said reinvented classics from Dior, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent drive strong sales at the retailer, which carries a wide range of fragrances, from Tom Ford and Hermès, to Burberry and Gucci.

At Ulta Beauty, though, a designer name is still a top priority. Penny Coy, vice president of prestige fragrance and skin, ticked off a slew of luxury designer scents — YSL Mon Paris, J’adore Dior, Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet, Gucci Bamboo and the new Tory Burch Love Relentlessly as being some of the season’s strongest performers so far.