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Fragrance Wardrobing Seen as Opportunity to Connect With Millennials

Presenting fragrances to match moods may tap into a consumer that values experiences over products, said NPD analyst Kissura Craft.

NEW YORK — Signature scents are out; fragrance wardrobes are in.

The shift presents an opportunity for fragrance makers — provided that they can speak to their consumers in a meaningful way, according to Kissura Craft, an NPD director and industry analyst for beauty.

She cited an example where one brand at Sephora had broken its scents out to match mood categories. “If you feel like it’s a red-lip day, it’s retro-glam, and these are the fragrances you should wear,” she said, adding that type of messaging is more likely to connect to a Millennial consumer.

“What’s interesting about this particular age group is they’re really about the experience,” she said. “They’d rather pay for an experience than actually buy a product, so fragrance can use that…what’s a bigger experience than your mood?”

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“If they can harness it, the category…could start to have some movement again,” Craft added, noting that fragrance has been seeing about 1 to 2 percent growth, slower than prestige skin care or makeup.

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Artisanal scents, which make up about 7 percent of the category, are where the growth really is, according to NPD. Craft said that subcategory is outpacing the rest of the segment by 17 points.

It’s an area where some brands have developed fragrance collections in order to tap into the various moods of their consumers. It can work sometimes, according to Craft.

“You’re speaking to both needs — the fact that they like to try new and different — and the fact that they want to be able to change it up with their moods,” Craft said. “You may have some loyalty with that group, or you may not because they always like trying new and different [fragrances].”

A segment more likely to be brand loyal is the 46 percent of fragrance users that told NPD surveyors they have a small perfume wardrobe, according to Craft. That group tends to be white, while the 43 percent of those surveyed who said they had a more expansive fragrance collection were more likely to be under 45, female, black or hispanic, according to NPD. Those with a signature scent are more likely to be white men over the age of 45, NPD found.