SEPAWA CONGRESS 2019

That ‘signature scent’: Fragrances perfect to explore personalisation

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Personalised perfumes remain 'quite niche' in the market at the moment, says Mintel (Getty Images)
Personalised perfumes remain 'quite niche' in the market at the moment, says Mintel (Getty Images)

Related tags: Personalisation, Perfume, Fragrance, DIY, Mintel


Consumers consider perfume an excellent way to express uniqueness and boost confidence, offering significant potential to develop personalised fragrances, says Mintel.

Personalised beauty is an important and growing trend, with significant opportunities in DIY kits, micro-targeting and smart marketing​. And whilst skin care and base make-up offers clear opportunity, Margaux Caron, global beauty analyst at Mintel, said fragrances held significant promise for personalisation.

Fragrance wardrobes and signature scents

Addressing attendees at the SEPAWA Congress 2019 in Berlin two weeks ago, Caron said the fragrance industry had diversified considerably over the past few years, with affordable body spray formats enabling consumers to build ‘fragrance wardrobes’, but demands for uniqueness were rising.

“We still see consumers want a signature scent,” ​she said. “Maybe they’re going to build a fragrance wardrobe but it’s going to be around a signature scent.”

Mintel data indicated 70% of young UK fragrance consumers wanted to wear a ‘different fragrance to everyone else’. Caron said many consumers clearly wanted to differentiate through perfume and a large number wanted to do this proactively – 92% of UK fragrance wearers preferred to choose their own fragrance.

Margaux Caron, global beauty analyst at Mintel
Margaux Caron, global beauty analyst at Mintel

“Fragrance is really a territory or a place to explore differentiation and personalisation,”​ she said.

Perfumes for confidence and uniqueness

Younger consumers – millennials and Generation Z – were a key target for this, Caron said, because these groups were looking for products that boosted confidence and enabled them to express uniqueness.

Mintel data showed 50% of young UK fragrance consumers felt it was important a fragrance made them feel confident, for example, and consumers in Western Europe also typically looked for “unusual scents”​, she said. “This is something that has been growing because what’s interesting for [consumers] is expressing their uniqueness and having a product nobody else has and, obviously, smelling unique.” 

The perfume industry had already started to cater to this desire in some ways, she said, with a significant expansion of unisex fragrances that empowered younger consumers to buck ‘gender norms’. However, there was much more that could be done, Caron told CosmeticsDesign-Europe, because efforts around tailored or personalised perfumes remained “quite niche”.

“A lot of what has been emerging has been kits to layer fragrance. So, you have companies like The Experimental Perfume Club that launched a kit to layer three different bases; three different accords (…) You also have a high street retailer called ‘& Other Stories’ – they also launched a kit to layer your fragrances,”​ she said.

There were also brands like Sillages Paris offering consumers custom blends based on online questionnaires about note preferences and how consumers wanted to feel when wearing a perfume, she said. 

High numbers of consumers look to fragrance for confidence boosting and self-expression (Getty Images)
High numbers of consumers look to fragrance for confidence boosting and self-expression (Getty Images)

Cost barriers to personalised perfumes 

Asked what may be holding industry back from advancing further in personalised perfumes, Caron said much of it stemmed around investment and perceived cost from the consumer side. “The main barrier is the perception that it’s going to be extremely expensive. So, it’s the price – the price barrier is really high.”

With online custom blends, for example, consumers didn’t want to end up with perfumes that weren’t suitable, she said. One way to counter this was to offer reimbursement schemes for unsatisfied customers – like Sillages Paris was doing – and another was to offer these blends in brick and mortar stores.

“The ‘phigital’ thing is really important – mixing digital and physical retail – or at least the services. You have this really interesting concept in Paris that’s just opened called The Alchemist Atelier. You have this tool on your phone, this app, that allows you to visually blend notes and you’re accompanied by human perfumers and you’re able during this workshop to blend your own fragrance in store,”​ Caron said. This concept provided consumers the emotional and expert touch, she said, but also the versatility and instantaneity of an app.

Personality and mood key for personalised fragrances

Caron said one aspect that presented a particularly strong opportunity for fragrances was the link consumers made between perfumes and mood and personality.

“What’s really interesting is personality and moods are something that is addressed by consumers in fragrance, especially fragrances that are going to either let them express their mood of the day or mood in general, but also fragrances that are going to have an impact on their mood.”

If industry could provide fragrance offerings that enabled consumers to change or express their mood, that would be “a step forward”.

Related topics: Market Trends, Fragrance

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