It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (To Sell Perfume)

One of the standard Holiday songs is “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” most often sung by Andy Williams. The lyrics talk about the time around the holidays being the “hap-happiest season of all”. Nowhere will you find mention of shopping. For most retailers this time of the year represents the biggest sales of the year across almost any sector you can name Perfume is no different. I have seen various numbers representing the sales anywhere from 20-30% of the entire year’s fragrance sales from Black Friday to the New Year.

One of the ways I am always reminded of how much fragrance is sold in December is I see television commercials. Over the recent past some of the biggest stars show up in them. This year Johnny Depp for Dior Sauvage was the most prevalent new face. I saw him digging in the desert way too many times. The ad by Giselle Bundchen for Chanel No. 5; Charlize Theron for Dior J’Adore, Julia Roberts for Lancome La Vie est Belle, and Natalie Portman for Miss Dior were the holdovers. Selling a perfume via a visual is always an odd choice for me. Having a strip in a magazine makes much more sense but they must work.

Dior-Sauvage

Evidence of this was a recent Women’s Wear Daily article in which Muriel Gonzalez the executive vice president of cosmetics, fragrance, and shoes for Macy’s cited the best sellers of the season heading in to the last week of 2015 sales as Dior Sauvage, Ralph Lauren Polo Red Intense, and Armani Acqua di Gio Profumo for men. The women’s perfumes which have been selling are Gucci Bamboo, Chloe Love Story, YSL Black Opium, and Versace Eros pour Femme. I have seen many ads for five of those seven since Thanksgiving. Polo Red Intense and Chloe Love Story must have some excellent sales teams and attractive looking gift sets.

Those gift sets are another reason I think perfume sales are so brisk. They seem like a great deal as you get some additional scented product to go along with the perfume, usually for a very slight price increase over just the bottle of fragrance by itself. When I am observing the sales at the local mall I definitely see consumers opting for the gift set more often than the bottle when they are choosing to buy.

As I’ve written in the past I am always cautious about buying perfume for someone else because it is such a personal choice for most who wear it. That reticence does not expand to the general population as the sales prove that. I do wonder how many of these bottles purchased as a gift end up gathering dust because the recipient doesn’t feel it is right for them. Probably right next to the sweaters in the wrong color at the back of the closet.

What I do take as a huge positive with the emphasis on how much fragrance is sold at this time of year is it is one of the times of the year when perfume is seen as something desirable; and giftable. There are a lot of external factors adding pressure to the fragrance business. Thankfully the year ends on an up note as those who sell fragrance can be heard humming the Andy Williams tune as they enter the New Year.

Mark Behnke

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