During the first 10 months of this year, total prestige fragrance sales were $1.7 billion, a 10 percent increase over the same period in 2010, according to a report released Wednesday by The NPD Group.

This story first appeared in the November 17, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

This marks the first gain in the overall fragrance category in three years for the January-to-October time period as well as the strongest performance of any October since 2009. The report also revealed that men’s fragrance sales grew more than women’s, up 12 percent in dollars as compared to 9 percent, respectively. In terms of new launches, which are up 4 percent from last year at this time, Gucci Guilty Homme was the top-ranking introduction for year-to-date sales.

In addition, it is primarily the juice itself that has ignited prestige fragrance sales. “What is exciting is that it’s the true fragrance that is driving sales this year, not the price point of a gift set,” said Karen Grant, vice president and senior global industry analyst at The NPD Group, who credits the popularity of fashion-inspired newcomers to “brand trust” and “consumer aspiration.” Not surprisingly, the classics are also showing strength, led by Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, Thierry Mugler’s Angel and Giorgio Armani’s Acqua di Giò Pour Homme.

“It’s about wanting a piece of something you can’t have otherwise,” said Grant. “It also speaks to the increased sophistication of shoppers.”

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When it comes to new celebrity scents — namely Justin Bieber’s Someday and Taylor Swift’s Wonderstruck — it’s a horse race into the holidays. “For the month of October, Wonderstruck performed better than Someday,” Grant said. “But Bieber’s scent is coming back again for the holiday period. We anticipate a strong showing for gift-giving.” Grant added that she expects a particularly “robust” season, thanks to a dedicated tween market.

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