‘Americans Have Never Smelled So Good,’ yet the Perfume Industry Is Suffering

A country that smells increasingly better without having to spray itself down with eau de cologne is a nightmare for some businesses. Particularly for those that sell low-price perfumes. As The Washington Post states, these businesses have been experiencing financial difficulties for some years now in the U.S.

To Each His Own Perfume

The Washington Post says that “the typical American smell[s] sweeter and cleaner than ever.” Fine-fragrance consumers can thank the army of workers who fabricate the scents of their deodorants, detergents and even household cleaning agents. An increasing number of brands are banking on your sense of smell to win you over. Even major hotels, cell phone stores and airlines now have their own perfumes.

Unfortunately, these fragrances, which were created to stand out from the rest, end up smelling the same. This is what Euromonitor analysts have outlined in their studies, in which they report a “standardization.” Brands must stretch their imagination in order to continue to exist in spite of this. Euromonitor notes that, “The saturated environment in fragrances has arguably contributed to consumer confusion and apathy, making it very difficult to make a brand stand out.”

Through their fame and prestige, luxury brands are not affected by this crisis. Since 2000, they have posted incredible growth of 16 percent. Last year, the sector was worth a record $5.2 billion. Nevertheless, these companies too are continuing to produce increasingly “bolder or more pungent” perfumes to make their own niche. While they may be determined to stand out from the competition, sales continue to decrease for mid-range perfumes, which have not proven to be sufficiently innovative. In 15 years’ time, sales will be reduced by 50 percent. Today’s market may not be worth more than $600 million.

Celebrity Fragrances No Longer Appealing

Some brands, however, have tried to get back on their feet. For example, the Parisian brand, Coty, tried to rejuvenate its image with celebrity fragrances by Beyoncé, David Beckam or even Katy Perry. Other businesses have followed suit. But the Justin Bieber, Jay Z, Nicki Minaj and One Direction perfume brands are not selling as well as before. According to The Washington Post, this is due to the fact that “their target market of tweens and teens” spends less and less money on bottles of perfume. And they’re not alone: “While rich and discerning perfume lovers are happy to spend more to not smell the same as everyone else,” Euromonitor analysts said, “value shoppers couldn’t care less.” Lower-income clients prefer, for example, lotions, creams or scented body sprays, which are cheaper and equally, or almost as, fragrant. When they crack open a real bottle of perfume, there’s no question about settling for a low-end or mid-range brand; priority is given to miniature luxury perfumes.

However, all is not doom and gloom for the world of low-priced fragrances. The spiciest types are even doing fairly well among male clientele. Very musky eau de parfum sales have thus taken off from the $15 million-a-year mark. Women, on the other hand, are gradually reverting to the mythical eau de cologne — a conversely “softer” product — which, according to The Washington Post, is perfectly in line with the “natural beauty” trend.

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