Fragrance brands

How Fragrance Brands Are Digitally Adapting to a Pandemic Holiday Season

This story is part of our week-long series on strategic fashion and beauty brand trends for the holidays of 2020.

To drive sales during the end-of-year gifting season, fragrance brands are turning to digital tools rather than enthusiastic department store salespeople.

Perfume relies on the holiday season more than any other category. According to Data of The NPD Group, more than 35% of fragrance sales are made from Thanksgiving to Christmas in the United States This year, this period coincides with the peak of the second wave of Covid-19, which makes it more difficult to sell a product that people are used to testing in person before buying.

According to data from the NPD Group, one on three fragrance consumers are influenced by in-store samples. According to Sensormatic Solutions, foot traffic in physical retail decreased by 52% on Black Friday this year. Department store footfall is about half of what it was a year earlier, according to SafeGraph. For some retailers, it’s even lower — foot traffic in Nordstrom is just 30% of what it was a year ago.

As a result, brands are turning to social media platforms to virtually convey fragrances. The L’Oréal group, for example, has teamed up with Pinterest to launch a virtual fragrance search tool that asks users about gender, preferred mood and clothing style. The tool then recommends a fragrance and links to product pages on its brands’ websites, including Armani Beauty, YSL Beauty and Viktor & Rolf.

“What we were hearing from fragrance brands at all levels was, ‘OK, the holidays are our biggest time, and we need to hit our sales target this holiday season, but people aren’t in store. “,” said Rachel Goodman, Director of Beauty Partnerships at Pinterest. “In our fragrance best practices, we always talk about showcasing the bottle, [as well as] figure out what is the right way to translate the scent and notes of that scent, so that people have an idea of ​​what that scent stands for. According to Pinterest, sSearches for “spicy scent” increased by 35%, “earthy scents” by 34%, and “floral scents” by 25%, year-over-year in 2020.

Coty, meanwhile, has invested heavily in Gen-Z apps this year. For the holiday season, her perfume Gucci Bloom deployed an AR campaign with Snapchat. Launched on November 29, the campaign features an AR experience allowing users, through a virtual maze game, to find five Bloom fragrances, including Gucci’s new Bloom Profumo di Fiori. The AR experience refers to the Gucci website to browse and purchase the fragrances.

“Many brands – especially beauty brands – had already started integrating AR into their campaigns a long time ago, because they saw how much it improved overall performance. But there is no doubt that Covid has accelerated the investment many brands in AR,” said Carolina Arguelles, Snapchat’s leader in AR marketing.

For its new anniversary fragrance Aventus, cult fragrance brand House of Creed hosted its first-ever virtual launch, replacing its usual influencer trip, in October. The brand hosted a virtual speakeasy event with influencers and customers, featuring a cocktail-making class.

Before the pandemic, online had “represented 10-15% of our business,” said Emmanuel Saujet, co-founder and CEO of Creed’s official North American distributor, ICP. But he “has been exploding for 6 to 7 months. I think we are catching up with the bigger boys, which are already 30% [or more] in line. I think that by next year our business will be more than 30% online. »

These historic fragrance brands are increasingly facing competition from DTC fragrance startups such as Scentbird, Skylar and Snif, which have incorporated online sales into their business models from the start.

Perfume brand DTC Snif, which launched on October 13, takes a Stitch Fix-style approach to online sales: shoppers receive both a full-size product and a free sample. If they don’t like the sample, they can return the full size bottle free of charge.

“When you look at traditional fragrances, they’re super disconnected from today’s millennial and Gen Z consumers,” said Phil Riportella, co-founder of Snif. “In a world where consumers buy almost every product online, perfume is still one of those things you don’t do, because you want to smell the perfume in real life. In order to make it a success, we had to eliminate all weak points; make buying perfume online as easy and straightforward as possible.

Proprietary fragrance brand Skylar, meanwhile, has created a “fragrance club” with small roll-on perfume bottles for $20. If users like the product, they can purchase a full-size bottle online for $78. For the holidays, the brand caters to gifts that want to give the recipient more choice in their scent: it sells a sample kit of nine scents with a card redeemable for a full-size scent, for $78, so that the recipient can choose his own. favorite.

“Large-format fragrances, box sets and our sample palette saw the biggest increases during the holidays,” said Cat Chen, Founder and CEO of Skylar.

“We believe e-commerce will continue to grow over the next few years in the fragrance category,” she said. “While you can’t smell it on your phone or laptop, we have tools like our Scent Quiz and strong visuals and product descriptions to ensure you find the scents that are right for you.”