The beauty behemoth completed the acquisition of Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle this week, following on from its recent purchase of other fragrance player Le Labo.
Frédéric Malle offers a collection of exclusive, luxury fragrances crafted by perfumers from around the world and personally curated by Malle, and with this acquisition Estée Lauder will gain this expertise and reinforce its premium alignment, joining brands such as Tom Ford and Aramis.
Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com about the deal, Nicholas Micallef, Beauty and Personcal Care analyst at Euromonitor says the know-how gained from its new acquisitions can be applied to Estée Lauder’s existing brands and turn them more exclusive.
“Le Labo and Frédéric Malle are known for their craftsmanship and personalised nature (over industrialisation) tending to enjoy a stronger entrepreneurial spirit. This has the potential to boost the company’s share of the luxury segment,” he says.
“Both Le Labo and Frederic Malle are small and to maintain their niche status they ought to remain small and focused. However, forming part of a bigger company in terms of scale means that they can be taken to more markets globally i.e. maintain their specialised nature but launching them in more markets globally – targeting high-end consumers beyond the developed world.”
As for the effect this may have on the rest of the fragrance industry, there may be a move towards the niche segment, with or without acquisitions, as some of the bigger players compete for this lucrative market share.
“This may also mean more use of exclusive ingredients. The prevailing growth flatness in the mainstream market may be alleviated if more players move into this direction; however, the high price points of niche fragrances and exclusive collections, as well as the tendency to sell these perfumes in select distribution channels may limit this,” explains Micallef.
“Niche cannot remain niche if it goes mainstream (with lower price points and wider distribution). However, we might see more mid-income consumers become somewhat price insensitive, opting to purchase the higher-priced niche perfumes even if less frequently,” he tells CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com.
The impact that this may then have on the mainstream market could be negative and Nicholas says that as a result there will be less frequent launches in this space, as more time and resources are invested in exclusive and creative scents,whose prospects look brighter.
“It is also worth noting that acquiring ‘independent’ niche perfumeries, which have a focus that is generally on man-made and fewer creations (as opposed to mass-manufactured), carries a risk,” he adds.
“The explosion of niche brands increases competition, and marked efforts, in terms of authentic scent compositions, are needed to sustain the niche positioning of such acquisitions, which target relatively price-insensitive consumers willing to buy at higher price points. Not doing so risks absorption into what is perceived as the run-of-the-mill market and competing on price.”