Sampling is the key to selling fragrance online, according to the experts at L2.
Discovery kits that include trial sizes of a brand’s fragrances have been working very well for indie brands because they let consumers try before they online buy, according to Becca Edelman, senior research associate at L2.
“The trend right now is pointing toward greater demand for personalized fragrance,” Edelman said. “These fragrance kits and discovery kits are ways for brands to expand their reach, and a way for users to get over their fear of spending a lot of money [and then not liking what they buy].”
Those sets can also work for design-led fragrance houses, Edelman noted, citing Elizabeth and James’ holiday collection from 2016, which contained several deluxe-sized samples.
“There’s definitely opportunity there,” she said. “If [designer fragrances] were to put their power behind it, I think they would be able to steal back some of that visibility from the small brands.”
Sample kits make up 71 percent of the products on Sephora’s primary fragrance web page, according to a recent fragrance L2 report, and the retailer promotes the discovery sets with paid search on Google.
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Some brands are using their own web sites to promote trial sizes. Atelier Cologne, Juliette Has a Gun and Le Labo all have discovery sets, which sometimes can be purchased with a credit applied to a full-size purchase. Diptyque sends a sample with each full-size fragrance so if the customer doesn’t like it, they can send the unopened fragrance back. YSL Beauty used Instagram to promote Black Opium and offered free samples to followers who provided their name, e-mail and shipping address on a photo. Burberry executed a similar campaign on Snapchat for Burberry Blush, the report said.
Those samples should be combined with refined search marketing tactics, according to a recent L2 report on the fragrance category. While the market remains driven by brand equity and online purchases remain mostly replenishment buys, brands can maximize online and search visibility by working with retail partners to secure placement on perfume pages.
“The key for brands is to work with retailers and promote those retailer partnerships as strongly as possible,” Edelman said.
She called out Pinrose as an example of a small fragrance brand that, absent the marketing budget of a fashion house, was able to leverage the reach of a retail partner — Sephora — to get its fragrance diagnostic quiz and samples into the hands of shoppers. Pinrose uses an algorithm-based test to match users to the right scent. That quiz was featured on Sephora’s Snapchat story, and made its way into stores on tablets near Pinrose displays.
For fragrance online, the next step is likely more influencer action, Edelman said.
“In the past, we thought about fragrance brands as the ugly stepsisters of the beauty world…but we’re starting to see a select number of brands overcome [being digital laggers],” Edelman said. L2 has started digging into influencer posts and found that less than 1 percent of the ones by top influencers feature fragrances.…The guys winning on YouTube are very education based. People want reviews, they want to understand the set notes, how it works during the day and how it combines with other fragrances.”