Magnificence & Wellness Briefing: Perfume continues beautiful progress throughout an more and more bifurcated class

This week, I checked in with industry analysts to better understand the phenomenal growth happening in the fragrance category, which appears to be further bifurcated across mass and luxury offerings. Additionally, the latest celebrity hair-care and sunscreen launches and the executive moves worth watching. 

The fragrance category is on a tear with high-end prestige and masstige offerings sending growth in opposite directions

It could be argued that 2023 was the year of fragrance, but according to new market research data and an onslaught of interesting new launches, the category shows no signs of slowing. Exactly what shoppers are buying, however, is nuanced. 

“Consumers are simultaneously trading up and trading down, when it comes to fragrances,” Jacquelyn Wenskus, fragrance category analyst at market research firm Circana, told Glossy. 

On one side, “[Shoppers] are gravitating to more approachable, low-price-point alternatives such as body sprays, private label mass scents and prestige mini sizes,” Wenskus said. This includes masstige and dupe scents that are trending on social media, such as offerings from Phlur, Sol de Janeiro and Skylar. Also included are discovery sets, which are especially alluring for shoppers who prefer to own a “fragrance wardrobe.”

“Consumers are building their fragrance wardrobes with three out of five [consumers] saying that they change which scent they wear depending on how they are feeling that day,” Circana’s Wenskus said. “This is especially true for younger generations who are becoming increasingly engaged in the fragrance category.”

On the other side of the coin lies prestige. Circana reported that U.S. prestige fragrance was the fastest-growing beauty category in Q1 based on sales revenue, up 13% YoY. And within this category, fragrance gift sets grew by 22%. 

According to Mintel market research firm, prestige and luxe fragrance launches have continually increased over the past five years. To wit: In 2018, prestige accounted for 20% of all launches, but in 2023, it accounted for nearly 30% of all launches, the largest growth between all categories. 

Quality, craftsmanship, self-indulgence and customization are key drivers, Lauren Goodsitt, director of beauty and personal care at Mintel, told Glossy. “Consumers look to fragrance as a means of self-expression, and many are willing to pay more for hyper-personalized offerings,” she said. “Fragrance can also be viewed as being a part of ‘treat-culture’ and a way to increase overall happiness or well-being.”

This can be seen in a rush of new fine fragrances launches that tap into differentiation of some kind. For example, Bella Hadid’s hotly-anticipated fragrance launch with Ulta Beauty, called Orebella, is made up of oil-based fragrances. Meanwhile, Sephora is betting on water-based fragrances with its December Clean Reserve launch. Historically, alcohol-based fragrances, which are long-lasting and don’t stain clothing, have been the most popular formulation.

Whereas customizable scents, like those from luxury French perfumer Ex Nihilo (which opened a Los Angeles flagship in 2022) or Olfactory NYC (which expanded to Washington D.C. earlier this year) offer truly personalized options, many formulate around archetypes to fill the gap. For example, Charlotte Tilbury entered fragrance earlier this month with not one, but six fragrances that lean into mood and personality. This allows customers to select their archetype between Calm Joy, Magic Energy and More Sex, among others, or choose a discovery set of all six. Hadid’s Orebella also launched with three scents, plus mini rollers for sampling. 

Meanwhile, Coty, which owns the fragrance licenses for Burberry, Gucci and Marc Jacobs, announced a 7% growth of its luxury fragrance category in the third quarter of its fiscal year, which ended March 31.

Still, sets reign supreme. “Fragrance gift sets have outperformed the overall fragrance category over the past couple of years, pointing to a consumer that is increasingly motivated by value,” said Circana’s Wenskus. This includes bundled sets with full-size offerings and accounts for the majority of all fragrance sales. “Meanwhile, travel-sized sets inclusive of discovery sets accounted for a third of sets sold and are increasingly gaining popularity among consumers. On average, these are half the price of a full-size set.”

Younger shoppers also continue to show their buying power within fragrance. Prestige fragrance sales within households making more than $100,000 per year, which also have children in the home, grew at twice the rate compared to households without kids, according to Circana’s receipt-based checkout data. “[This ties] back largely to the rising interest in beauty products among younger consumers, particularly Gen Alpha,” Circana’s Wenskus told Glossy. “Within the prestige market, certain areas of the market benefited more than others when it comes to these buyers, such as body mists and mini or travel size scents.” 

“Established brands have the opportunity to leverage varied product formats, such as hair perfumes or body care products, to allow consumers to experience luxe scents while on a tighter budget,” Mintel’s Goodsitt told Glossy. Capitalizing on the opportunity is Ouai, which just launched a hair fragrance; Phlur, which released a body oil version on its TikTok-famous Missing Person scent last month; and Chanel, with its new Gardenia scented body oil. 

“Based on Circana’s forecast models, the outlook of the fragrance category over the next few years remains positive,” said Circana’s Wenskus. “There remains ample opportunity for brands and retailers to win over consumers that are driving the continued demand for fragrance.”

Executive moves: 

  • Amyris, the California biotech company known for its synthetic squalene manufacturing, has appointed Kathy L. Fortmann as its new CEO. Amyris recently sold its consumer brands including Biossance, Rose Inc and JVN Hair, among others, as part of its bankruptcy restructuring. Fortmann was previously the CEO of ACOMO N.V., a Dutch publicly-listed company focused on conventional and organic niche food products and ingredients.
  • Henry Rose, the genderless fine fragrance house from Michelle Pfeiffer known for ingredient transparency, has appointed Laure de Metz as its new CEO. Previously, de Metz was the gm at LVMH’s Benefit Cosmetics.
  • Hannah Beals has been promoted to CEO of P&G-owned Oaui hair-care. Previously she served as the brand’s chief brand officer.
  • L’Oréal USA CEO David Greenberg has been elected as the board chair of the Personal Care Products Council. Previously, he served as vice chairman of the industry group.
  • Beacon Wellness Brands, which is owned by Yellow Wood Partners, has appointed COO Maria Warrington to the role of CEO. 

News to know:

  • Three Ships Beauty, a clean skin-care range sold DTC and through retailers like Credo and Detox Market, has raised $2.5 million in funding from Thrive Venture Fund. 
  • Violet Grey and Instagram sponsored a dinner in New York City on Met Gala Monday to celebrate the artists working behind the scenes. A decades-long tradition, the dinner welcomed more than 100 artists and was co-hosted by makeup artists Troy Surratt and Harold as well as hairstylists Nai’vasha Grace and Jacob Rozenberg. 
  • Oddity, which has incubated beauty brands Il Makiage and Spoiled Child, lifted its full-year outlook after a 28% surge in Q1 revenue.
  • ColoupPop, the L.A.-based fast beauty retailer known for its collabs, has teamed up with Pokémon to create eye, lip and cheek color cosmetics. They will be available DTC on ColourPop’s website and at Ulta Beauty. 

In the headlines:

Surfing icon Kelly Slater launches Freaks of Nature sunscreen brand with reef-compliant zinc oxide, vegan squalane and ocean-bound recycled plastic packaging. Curly hair styling tool brand Richualist scored a $150,000 deal on “Shark Tank” from Emma Grede and Mark Cuban. Brooke Shields is the latest celebrity beauty founder: The star released a line of hair-care products made for women over 40 called Commence. Emma Roberts has been named Kiko Milano’s first-ever global brand ambassador. 

Need a Glossy recap? 

How Laneige is taking on Temu counterfeiters. Thayers taps DJ Pauly D for its first-ever celebrity campaign. EltaMD launches Deep Tint, sunscreen protection for darker skin. Glossy reporters discuss Pat McGrath, Charlotte Tilbury and the beauty opportunity at the Met Gala. Prose CMO Megan Streeter appears on the Glossy Beauty Podcast. 

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