Fragrance: Luxury Redefined

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the CEW Women in Beauty Series entitled “Time-Defying Scents.”  The panel, moderated by Beauty Inc. editor-in-chief Jenny Fine, featured fragrance experts Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, global brand president of Aramis Designer Fragrances, BeautyBank and IdeaBank at The Estée Lauder Companies; and Christine Dagousset, EVP of Fragrance and Beauté at Chanel.

One point of discussion that really piqued my interest is the current state of the economy and its implications on the fragrance industry.  We can call it “luxury redefined.”  As Gabai-Pinksy said, the fragrance industry’s responsibility is not to fulfill a need; instead, the industry has to create the want.  Hence, market research needs to go beyond just the product and investigate the whole marketplace – What’s going on in the world?  What’s influencing consumers?  Then, it’s a matter of taking those insights and using them to reinvent the consumer experience.

Fragrance brands are using diverse marketing strategies to tell the story about their brands.  Consumers are not just buying the products; they’re buying the experience.  Estée Lauder uses a high-touch method to engage consumers.  To promote Coach Poppy, they deployed a street team to pass out poppies to passersby.  Why?  To brighten someone’s day and share a part of the brand identity with them.

Chanel sticks to a more exclusive approach to marketing.  Chanel limits sampling opportunities and consumer promotions, and instead relies more on the long-standing prestige and iconicity of the brand to make their fragrances desirable for consumers.

Regardless of their varied marketing approaches, both women agree on three things:

1. Never compromise on quality
2. Stay true to the brand and the business model
3. Keep the message simple but interesting

At the end of the day, fragrance is about selling seduction.  Is it working on you?

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