The French touch? France's top 10 best-selling perfumes reflect love of ‘classic’ luxury

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

France is home to 'many iconic perfume houses' and draws strong interest from China, according to Suburbia (Getty Images)
France is home to 'many iconic perfume houses' and draws strong interest from China, according to Suburbia (Getty Images)

Related tags France Fine fragrance luxury fragrance Prestige beauty dior Chanel L'oréal

France remains Europe’s most important prestige fragrance market and its top 10 best-selling list reveals a love of classic, designer French scents, with Dior and Chanel holding six spots, according to Suburbia.

French fine fragrance brands dominated perfume purchases in France last year, according to data analysis from Amsterdam-headquartered tech start-up Suburbia. Using proprietary technology​ to analyse more than three million anonymised consumer purchases from over 130 retail locations across France in 2019 (January 1 – December 31), Suburbia research showed LVMH and L’Oréal held important presence in the category, with Dior, Givenchy and Lancôme perfumes all landing top 10 spots.

‘Old is gold’ – France’s Top 10 best-selling fragrances

Suburbia’s Top 10 best-selling fragrance list for France in 2019 is:

  1. Lancôme La Vie est Belle
  2. Dior Sauvage
  3. Givenchy L’Interdit
  4. Dior Eau Sauvage
  5. Dior J’Adore
  6. Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male
  7. Bleu de Chanel
  8. Paco Rabanne 1 Million
  9. Dior Joy
  10. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle

Suburbia said there was plenty to be learned from this Top 10 list, notably that “old is gold, and classics still reign”.

“Even though it seems like we are assailed by a new fragrance launch or campaign every other day, the best-selling list is actually dominated by scents that have been around for a while. For instance, Dior unveiled Eau Sauvage in 1966. Joy, a relative newcomer on the list that was introduced in 2018, was Dior’s first major perfume launch in 20 years. Likewise for Sauvage, which marked Dior’s first new cologne in a decade,” ​the data start-up said.

“This shows that while successful fragrance launches can be few and far between – once a scent is beloved, it can be a money-maker for years and decades to come.”

Premium over mass – looking for that ‘quintessential French fragrance’

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, Stephanie Tan, marketing director at Suburbia, said fine fragrance clearly remained “extremely important”​ for the French cosmetics market.

“The industry has seen the growth of premium beauty outpacing that of mass market products over the years, and nowhere is that reflected more than in the fragrance category,”​ Tan said.

France was home to “many iconic perfume houses”, ​she said, and with that came important tourism trade, notably from China. Suburbia said Statistica data showed Chinese tourists spent more on cosmetics and fragrances in France than they did on clothing, food or handbags.

“We can only surmise that a quintessential French fragrance is seen as the perfect souvenir,” ​Tan said.

Try before you buy – brick-and-mortar remains central for fine fragrance

Tan said Suburbia analysis also showed many of these fine fragrance purchases were happening in store, rather than online.

“We track, along with e-commerce, brick-and-mortar sales and they show a significantly higher number of fragrance purchases being made, compared to other categories,” ​she said.

“This suggests that fragrance remains an item that people prefer to try before they buy, as scent is so personal. Thus, the in-store experience is still as important as ever.”

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