There has been another round of acquisition of niche perfume lines by the big cosmetics companies. By Kilian was purchased by Estee Lauder followed by the recent Atelier Cologne sale to L’Oreal. While there is plenty to talk about in whether these are good for the niche/independent perfume business that is not what has struck me about all of the sales of the last two years. What I realized is every one of these had a strong identifiable brand to go with their perfumes.
When I was at Cosmoprof most of the beauty products I saw were very conscious of creating a brand. In that sector it is what separates you from others essentially doing the same thing. In perfume it is easier as the products usually at the very least smell different. That doesn’t mean that a perfume should not consider that a distinct brand can provide a consumer a particular guidance.
This has been true since the earliest days of perfumery. Chanel and Guerlain have used their brands for almost a century. When I write about the new releases I very often say how closely it tracks to what I consider the brand identity.
For the independent brands the same has been true. Of the four niche brands which have been acquired; Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, Le Labo, By Kilian, and Atelier Cologne. All of those have distinctive identities which come from the top down. The creative directors for each of those perfume lines kept true to the vision that was in place on day one. These are as identifiable by aesthetic as Chanel or Guerlain.
The other part of all of this is a recognizable package. All of these six brands I’ve mentioned have pretty simple bottles but most perfume lovers could recognize them by their silhouette. All of this comes together to become eye-catching enough to have a casual consumer be attracted to it to give it a try.
It is why when I am asked by emerging independent perfume lines how to take the next step I pass along this advice. If you are looking to expand your market you need to think seriously about what you want not only your perfume but your packaging and your personality to say to the perfume buying public. That is the foundation of building a brand. More in the independent perfume business should understand the importance of making the effort to do it.