[Investigation] Perfume: an extension of the luxury domain (Part 2/3)

In the first part of the investigation, the context was set for Perfume as a gateway to the brand universe for an aspirational, less affluent clientele. But also as a geographic gas pedal and anti-crisis remedy for luxury brands. While uncertainty is gaining ground, the potential of the Chinese market is giving new importance to this market, to the point that many players want to challenge L’Oréal on its own ground.


Less restrictive than a skincare routine and providing instant gratification, high-end perfume appears to be the most dynamic category of beauty products in recent months, with an acceleration in sales in 2022. Launches have resumed but with less fuss and a higher price point.


Perfume, a priority playground for brands


Global sales of prestige perfumes in 2022 have thus recorded a 19% growth on a comparable basis. This situation can be explained by a change in the behavior of Generation Z, for whom perfume is part of a malleable self-expression that is less fixed than with millennials. These behaviors challenge the monopolistic position of signature fragrances in the hearts of consumers. As Nylon magazine describes it, “The challenge is no longer so much to wear a popular, instantly recognizable fragrance as to seek mystery and exclusivity.


There is also an increased quest for a fragrance to become part of one’s personal narrative, as with Parfums Margiela’s Replica collection, which launched in 2012 but went viral on Tiktok recently. With names like “By the fire”, “Walk on the beach” or “Lazy Saturday morning”, the brand proposes to explore the concept of “olfactory memory” where each fragrance transports the customer to places in his daily life.


©Maison Margiela


For example, in France, sales of prestige fragrances in selective distribution have increased by more than 177% between 2019 and 2022, according to the NPD group research institute. So much so that the fragrance universe was the first in the Beauty category to return to its pre-pandemic level. As RBC Capital Markets analyst Nik Modi tells Business of Fashion, “Fragrances have been kind of neglected. That’s starting to change.”


Indeed, the strength of LVMH’s fiscal 2022 was largely driven by strong fragrance market growth. Dior’s Sauvage, for example, was crowned the world’s number-one seller. This same product category was also behind the Spanish group Puig’s sales growth of more than 74%, making it the world’s fifth-largest perfume manufacturer.


A trend that has convinced La Bouche Rouge, a single-product brand until now – in lipstick – to diversify into niche perfumes, at 195 euros each. A first collection of perfumes in the image of this responsible company and embracing the expectations of a young generation increasingly focused on sustainability and natural materials, from the bottle to the essence used.  A world first, the result is a series of five perfumes designed by the greatest perfumers, each with 93% natural ingredients and 30% upcycled ingredients (recycled products revalorized). La Bouche Rouge is also capitalizing on the trend of refillable perfumes. A segment that Prada had already explored in 2022 with its Paradoxe fragrance.






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Featured photo : © Maison Margiela

Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin is a journalist specializing in luxury, HR, tech, retail, and editorial consulting. A graduate of EIML Paris, he has been working in the luxury industry for 9 years. Fond of fashion, Asia, history, and long format, this ex-Welcome To The Jungle and Time To Disrupt likes to analyze the news from a sociological and cultural angle.

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