LONDON — Holiday beauty sales in France, the U.K. and Germany were generally more ho-ho than ho-hum, with many retailers there posting moderate gains year-on-year, according to the 10 stores, representing some 2,900 doors, polled by WWD.
Among the new fragrances for women, Lancôme’s Hypnôse, Thierry Mugler’s Alien, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely and Calvin Klein’s Euphoria were standouts, according to buyers, who added that for men, Dior Homme, Ralph Lauren’s Polo Black and Davidoff’s Silver Shadow worked well.
This year, skin care vied with scent for top beauty gift. And classic scents —perennial holiday favorites — and niche fragrance brands were also strong performers in most markets queried.
“The big classics, such as Dior’s J’Adore, Chanel No.5 and Guerlain scents are always big sellers at Christmas,” said Natalie Bader-Michel, European marketing director for LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned Sephora, which has 441 doors in Europe. “It’s not necessarily new fragrances that sell.”
Yet among the newbies making waves at the chain was Lancôme’s Hypnôse, which ranked sixth among best-selling fragrances over the holiday period. The scent also had a strong showing in France’s 55-door Galeries Lafayette department store chain and in Germany’s 900-door perfumery cooperative Beauty Alliance.
Calvin Klein’s Euphoria also garnered praise from buyers. The scent racked up strong sales in the U.K.’s four-door Selfridges department store chain.
Some European buyers said its advertising, featuring model Natalia Vodianova seemingly lost in a sensual fantasy, packed a punch.
“It was a very good angle,” said Bernd-Jurgen Hohfeld, managing director of Beauty Alliance.
Thierry Mugler’s otherworldly fragrance Alien worked well in Selfridges and in Germany’s two-door Schnitzler perfumery chain.
“For Alien [we] featured material at points of sale and in the windows,” said Frank Schnitzler, owner of the prestige perfumeries. “But then, the fragrance must sell itself. We don’t push, push, push.”
Advertising for Sarah Jessica Parker’s debut fragrance, Lovely, stood out for Daniela Rinaldi, beauty buyer at the U.K.’s nine-door Harvey Nichols chain. It shows the actress wearing an Oscar de la Renta gown.
“Sales were boosted by the high profile of the actress herself,” said Marie-Françoise Stouls, director of the Theatre de la Beauté of Paris in the Bon Marché department store.
The scent ranked among the top five best-selling fragrances over the holidays at the U.K.’s Boots the Chemists chain, which boasts 1,400 doors. Others on the list were Chanel No.5, Jean Paul Gaultier’s Classique, Ghost and Lacoste’s Touch of Pink.
Among freshmen men’s fragrances, Davidoff Silver Shadow performed well in December in Beauty Alliance doors, whereas Dior Homme and Ralph Lauren Polo Black “performed really well” in Selfridges, according to the department store’s buyer manager for fragrance, skin care and salons, Nicola Tompkins.
“We were very pleased with the performance of men’s products,” said Nicky Kinnaird, president and creative director of the U.K.’s 42 Space NK stores.
She added the chain’s own brand fragrances and skin care products performed particularly well. Jean Paul Gaultier’s Gaultier to the Power of Two scent for men and women performed well in Beauty Alliance stores over the holidays.
Treatment also showed its strength this season.
“Fragrance coffret sales were quite poor in favor of cosmetics and treatment brands,” said Rinaldi, who added that skin care sets from Elemis, La Prairie and Bliss did well.
“The big surprise was skin care sets, such as Strivectin’s,” said Sephora’s Bader-Michel.
Agreed Selfridges’ Tompkins, “Skin care sets are definitely a growth category for us during the Christmas period. Brands like Shiseido created sets for the first time, and these proved hugely successful.”
— also by Melissa Drier, Berlin, and Ellen Groves, Paris