Table of contents
This essay will be talking about how the branding and advertising of perfume have evolved over the years in the world of fragrance. It will talk about the overall perfume market as well as some of the issues that the world of fragrance is now facing including the stigmas around brands such as celebrity perfumes.
This essay will begin by giving an overview and background on what perfume is and how it came to be the product it is now. It will explain about the packaging of perfume and the role that has played in the evolution of this product.
Following that it will go on to explain the retail market and how that is shaping up in the present day. This will include facts and figures on the current industry and explore the retail experience for customers.
Then finally this essay will discuss classic high-end perfumes such as Chanel and the cheaper side of perfume which is the celebrity perfume range and how each of them has evolved to become the product they are currently.
The Early Days of Fragrance
Perfume is the mixture of alcohol, water and fragrant oils the strength of a perfume depends on how concentrated the actual liquid is. The less water that is in the perfume will vary how long the scent will stay on your skin. Typically, there are three main perfume strengths these are Eau de Toilette which is the weakest, Eau de Parfum and Perfume which are the strongest. The word perfume comes from the word Perfumare which means “to smoke through” in Latin (Norah, 2019). Perfumes are usually organised into a select perfume family. There are 14 different perfume families the most common ones would be fruity, floral, woody and oriental these are all shown on the Michael Edwards fragrance wheel.
Designer perfumes were introduced in the 20th century when people such as Francois Coty would revolutionize the industry (Hoffman, 2017a). He did this by teaming up with Baccarat Crystal House so that they could create bottles and labels so that they could sell this product to luxury clients (Hoffman, 2017b). He knew that he wanted to be able to create a story through scent which means he wanted the perfume you spray to create memories and make you feel emotions where the smell of a certain perfume can take you back to a time in your life giving you a nostalgic feeling. He knew his presentation would need to be of a high quality for it to sell. He understood that selling the best product at a reasonable price he could create a business bigger than ever imagined. Coty is still one of the biggest perfume houses around and sells a lot of high-end product to other retail shops. However, it was Coco Chanel that changed the world of fragrance forever with their best-selling perfume Chanel No. 5. This scent is a powdery floral fragrance in an iconic bottle with a very simplistic design. No. 5 is a timeless, legendary fragrance (The Perfume Shop Limited, 2018). She advertised and marketed the perfume so well and with such intelligence, it started something others couldn’t even think of. This is the perfume which began everything she inspired so many people to do the same thing.
Chanel No.5 was the perfume to have created a refined packaging and they were the very first company to use a woman in their marketing strategy in 1945. For their original marketing strategy, they made simple advertisements “in black and white where only the bottle was highlighted (Bougnoux, 2014). This first lot of advertisement was done on a very limited budget but they successfully did it, they had the look of using a wealthy elegant woman with the bottle and brand name at the very bottom of the page.
Later on in the 1970s the brand Revlon was next to revolutionize the marketing of perfume with the launch of their perfume “Charlie” their advertisement shook the world of fragrance. Shelly Hack was the face of the perfume also known as Charlie girl (Figure 3) who was an independent and employed woman who got to choose her own scent which wasn’t something that happened prior to this point which was an empowering message for women across the US (AdAge, 2003a). It is what convinced women to buy themselves perfume and wear it on more of a daily basis rather than on special occasions. This campaign then opened doors for other brands to do glitzier marketing meaning they were showy, attractive, superficial designs and much more creative.
Advertisement moved on, even more, when Chanel shared their latest campaign using the television. They used extremely surreal images of romance they did this by using images of women looking seductive as well as using images of men and women kissing and being very romantic (Figure 4). They used these images against creative musical backgrounds. The biggest marketing progress in the 1980s was made by Giorgio Beverly Hills who were the first brand to give out samples of their perfume in magazines on little blotters. Giorgio managed to get an advertisement in Vogue for a full year with the blotters.
Perfume is now no longer a product for rich people as there is such a wide market of high end, low end and celebrity perfumes around it is a much more accessible product. Marketing has come a long way since the very first campaign by Coco Chanel they have expanded into TV, Radio, Magazines and instore advertisement is everywhere. Creativity isn’t short in the world of modern fragrance brands are always coming out with new marketing strategies.
Packaging and Bottle Design
Packaging and bottles have also changed over the years most bottles started out as a square shape as it was the simplest to make on a larger scale. Although there are a lot of perfume bottles today that is a simple square shape there are also ones which have expanded into more creative shapes and styles. The first designer to stray away from the square shaped bottle was Paco Rabanne in 1969 (Figure 5). The brand created a fragrance with an artistic packaging and rather than being square the bottles resembled sculptures (AdAge, 2003b).
From this point on as brands brought out more perfumes, they were also very creative with their bottle shapes now you can get perfumes in the shape of heels (Figure 6), men or women's bodies (Figure 7), spheres (Figure 8) and handbags (Figure 9). Although most men's perfume bottles tend to be kept more simplistic and in basic shapes.
The actual perfume packaging is probably what has changed least over time as this is just more of a safety feature and what you first look at when you receive or buy perfume so it has to look engaging. Boxes are mostly square shape that hasn’t really changed. However, colours and box designs have changed they have become brighter and more colourful as this makes you want to buy the perfume. Text on the boxes is more or less similar on all boxes as it needs to be easily read by everyone especially the ingredients for allergic reactions. Boxes have also shrunk making them more environmentally friendly but there were no major breakthroughs in the packaging of perfume.
The current retail market for perfume isn’t as strong as it used to be. Over the last three years, there has been a decline in the amount of profit these companies are making. In the Uk, we have a lot of companies that sell perfume on the high street the most successful companies would include The Perfume Shop, The Fragrance Shop, Boots and Selfridges. Depending on what type of perfume you want each of these stores will stock it. There is a very high competition between all stores that sell fragrance because customers tend to be looking for the best deal or a certain perfume at the best price. A lot of perfume retailers will have weekly offers on different perfumes to help increase their profit and get more customers into their store and converted from someone who is just looking at perfume to someone who is spending their money with your company. Competition tends to be much higher in places such as shopping centre’s where there is more than one company which is easily accessible to buy some perfume which means each company has to try and offer something different to each other in a hope that the customers will come and buy from them.
The Perfume Shop and The Fragrance Shop are one of the biggest competitors for each other and The Perfume Shop has made deals in the past with shopping centre’s to allow them to be the only shop in the centre that stocks only perfume. An example of this is within The Trafford centre which is the second largest shopping centre in the UK The Perfume Shop made a deal with them saying they will open three different Perfume Shop stores in their centre as long as The Fragrance Shop are not allowed to open a shop of their own. The owners of Trafford Centre did agree to this and The Perfume Shop opened their three stores across the centre. However, The Fragrance shop hit back at this knowing they couldn’t trade under their current name they opened a one-off shop called Indulge inside The Trafford Centre so that they could trade against The Perfume Shop. The current overall Uk perfume market makes a revenue of £6.6 billion and has a 0.3% annual increase in overall sales with over 1500 business across the country (IBISWorld, 2018). Whereas over the past five years the fragrance industry in the US has grown by 5.3% and has reached a revenue of £5 billion in 2018 with the number of businesses also growing by 2.3% over the years (IBISWorld, 2018).
The Perfume Shop
The Perfume Shop has been trading since 1992 when they opened their first store in Birmingham. The company prides itself on offering all customers The Perfect Service. This means that if all customers get the best service possible they are much more likely to return at a later date. They now have almost 260 stores across England and Ireland. For many years the company was constantly making profit every single year however since 2015 there has been a decline in the amount of money they have been making. 2009 was one of the best years for the company and its profits as it saw a huge increase, especially around Christmas time. They experienced high sales over the Christmas period and by December 2009 they saw an 8.5% sales increase compared to previous years and online sales also saw a staggering increase of 162% in sales (Cosmetics Business, 2010). Their profits then continued to increase until around 2015 when they began to drop. The company knew they needed to do something to help this so between the years of 2015-2017 they began project rocket which was a plan to help certain stores increase their profits again. This did work for a lot of stores and numbers were up by 0.2% by the end of December 2017 (Santamaria, 2018a). Sales for the period were £212.8 million compared to £212.3 million an earlier year (Santamaria, 2018b). Although in recent years there has been a decline within stores their online sales have been performing much stronger and providing the increase in profit that the company needs. Whereas in-store sales like for like had a growth of 1% the online sales had increased by 33% in the previous year (Santamaria, 2018c). The online sales have been increasing every year since this whereas sales in the store have been on a decline to the point they are having to close down three of their stores including the one on Oxford Street which has always been one of their busier stores.
Retail Market Issues
The reason the perfume market instore is on a decline is because of a range of different reasons one of the biggest issues is because brands keep releasing new perfumes hoping to get all the sales but the market is so full of different types of perfumes they just get lost along the way. Sales in luxury fragrances are on a slight increase growing by 1.4% in 2018 whereas celebrity perfumes are on the decline and had sales fall by 22% in 2018 (Tydings, 2018a). In the past celebrity, fragrances have done really well and sold many bottles but now the novelty has worn off and people are not impressed by a celebrity name on their perfume (Tydings, 2018b). Some are still doing well these include Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Ariana Grande and Rhianna but they are now classed as cheap Fragrances retailing for around £25 a bottle opposed to £70-£80. The experience of going into a shop and choosing your scent has become dull and outdated. There are so many rows of perfume it can all feel very overwhelming and make it very hard to choose a scent (Figure 10). They have rows of perfume which all look relatively similar to each other (Tydings, 2018c). People also tend to be buying into the latest scent or the one with the nicest bottle as it’s a quicker way of them choosing the scent. This means you are quite unlikely to get a second purchase. Brands and companies will need to work together to think of more creative ways to showcase their perfumes. Sephora is one store that is trying to tackle this with its new creative idea Insta Scent (Figure 11). Insta Scent is a much less overwhelming way of choosing your perfect scent. It is a high tech station within Sephora stores which allows shoppers to choose a perfume family such as floral, woody or oriental and then smell it from puffs of air which come out of the machine. The scent doesn’t have alcohol in it so it doesn’t stay in the air for too long meaning you can smell many different scents without them getting mixed up with each other (Stewart, 2015).
Chanel Fragrance’s Campaign
Chanel fragrances are one of the most timeless and classic fragrances you can buy they have always been a high-end choice and are rarely on offer. The price for a bottle of Chanel starts at £57 and goes up to over £110 so they are pretty expensive to buy. One thing Chanel can do well is create an impressive and unforgettable campaign and advert for their fragrances and this has shown throughout the years their best ones including No 5 and Chance. Their most successful fragrance would be the iconic Chanel No 5 (Figure 12) which has captured and held customer’s attention since its release in 1921 (Scrivener, 2016). This fragrance has since gone on to be one of the industry’s most recognizable fragrance’s (Perfume Society, 2019). Coco Chanel decided she wanted “A woman’s perfume, with the scent of a woman” (BBC, 2011). Chanel No 5 was the first ever fragrance to advertise at the Super Bowl which pioneered powerful perfume campaigning. They were also the first brand that recognized celebrity endorsement most known in the form of Marilyn Monroe. Their campaign was so strong one bottle of Chanel perfume is sold every 30 seconds (Young, 2014).
Chanel’s Social Media Presence
The company then went on to bring out new perfumes which went on to be very popular also these include the Allure, Mademoiselle and Gabrielle. Chanel has gained a strong online presence on a range of different social media channels which helps them to promote and campaign their newest products. They create content that is aspirational to its followers and they create their own world which includes overtly edited and arty in nature (Gilliland, 2018a). They are having a very successful outcome with this unique approach compared to other companies that try to campaign their products to fit follower’s everyday lives. In the past year, the brand has seen an average growth of 50% across all platforms in a single year and one of these reasons appears to be because of their new video strategy (Gilliland, 2018b). They frequently post videos campaigning their products on Instagram and YouTube and they’ve had a great response from it (Figure 13). Alongside their direct product campaigns, they have started a series on their YouTube channel which shows behind the scenes such as the “Inside Chanel” series which was created to show remind customers of the unique vision and their own back story (Figure 14). All of the brand's documentaries are in black and white which relate to Coco Chanel as she was an advocate for these two colours (Yurtbay, 2014a). They have also created a mysterious interactive campaign on their Instagram which resembled a scavenger hunt. They shared a photo for its Coco Mademoiselle campaign that shared three different photos trying to be mysterious then followers would need to click on the tags of the image to reveal the different facets of Coco Mademoiselle (King, 2017).
Chanel’s Newest Campaign Designs
Chanel’s printed campaign in recent years hasn’t really changed much except it’s been updated to more modern design. They will also use women on the posters being the centre of attention usually a celebrity of some kind. The reason for this move is to attract a younger audience as they are more attracted to a celebrity they know endorsing a product. Usually, this will be an actress as they are more widely recognized and Chanel believes they can connect Channel’s collection with fans (Yurtbay, 2014b). Lily- Rose Depp is an example of Chanel using actresses and young women to advertise their latest fragrance. Plus, since the interpretation of the classic No5 fragrance is fresher, cooler and younger she is the perfect person for it (Beresiner, 2016). Lily- Rose Depp is a 17-year-old French actress and model and the face of Chanel No5 L’eau. The advert shows her in a variety of very different scenarios including letting her hair down at a party, rioting in the streets and singing on a stage, she’s a girl you expect and what you don’t like the ad says “you know me and you don’t” (Cope, 2016a). The poster for this campaign is very similar to all other Chanel adverts has a strong photo of a woman grabbing the attention and a bottle of the perfume simple but very effective (Figure 15). The director Johan Renck wanted to capture the daring fragrance adverts Chanel has used in the past and flaunting your difference is the only way of making an impact (Cope, 2016b). One of Chanel’s most current campaigns is unlike others they have done in the past the campaign which is advertising the new Chanel Chance range is fun and full of colour. It is the new digital advertising campaign and features four models performing a choreographed dance at an audition as they are chosen to be a part of this campaign (Bargh, 2019). The idea behind the mini comedy to evoke the happy spirit of the Chance Perfumes (Pekic, 2019). The director Jean-Paul Goude tackled this campaign with a much lighter and fun approach replacing tradition with the world of theatre and dance auditions (Figure 16). He also made a range of posters for the fragrance to go along with the digital video advert where he takes the same fun approach and using the same idea that they are at an audition tying to be chosen by showing off their best tricks and moves (Figure 17). It is a fun, exciting, innovative and stylish much like the perfume represents (Elle, 2019). They use four girls all in one advert which is a different approach for them but yet it is still as impressive and unforgettable as all their previous adverts.
Unlike Chanel fragrances, Celebrity ones are more commonly known for being cheap and everyday fragrances to wear. These ones will range from around £9.99 to £45 if they are not on offer however the majority of the time they are on a sale price and under £25. Some of the most popular fragrances would include Beyoncé Heat (Figure 18), Britney Spears Fantasy (Figure 19), Ariana Grande Ari (Figure 20) and Katy Perry Killer Queen (Figure 21). Even though all of these celebrities have very different fragrances the approach to marketing a celebrity perfume is very similar. They will market their perfumes using themselves as the model endorsing the product (Figure 22) rather than someone unrelated to that fragrance like companies such as Chanel do. This is because celebrities are a product in themselves and their own fragrance is an extension of this. Fans will always want to look, dress, act and smell like their favourite celebrities because they are so highly inspired by them (Minton, 2019a). Therefore, by campaigning themselves as part of the perfume brand they get a lot of fans coming to try and buy into their fragrance. Fans will buy the fragrance just because their favourite celebrity is endorsing it rather than caring about what’s actually in the bottle. Kim Kardashian proved this when she released her range of KKW Fragrances which fans happily bought before evening smelling the perfume first. The fragrances when released back in 2017 made $10 million in a single day because her name was on the front of it (Minton, 2019b). Ariana Grande has also made a very successful fragrance range which consists of Moonlight, Ari and Sweet like candy (Figure 23). In the years, she has had her range for she has made over $150 million which is a very quick progression for a new fragrance brand (Utroske, 2018). As part of Ariana Grande’s marketing campaign for her fragrance she had full-size cutouts of herself and sent into stores to grab fans attention, she also offered free gifts with a sale of her perfume including giving away a pair of her signature cat ears.
Britney Spears Prerogative Campaign
Britney Spears released her newest fragrance in 2018 and it's completely different from any of her current fragrance range. The campaign is mostly based on social media with her sharing clips and sneak peeks of her newest product. The newest fragrance which she has called Prerogative comes in a black and pink bottle it has an entirely different look to any of her previous girlie designed bottles as this is her first unisex fragrance (Figure 24). The bottle sits on an angle on its side and is resembling a hexagon It has sharp edges with rounded corners to reflect the contrasting sensibilities that Prerogative represents (Beauty Packaging, 2018). Prerogative is advertised through a variety of provocative scenes each one relating to a time in her career. She promoted the fragrance over her social media for months leading up to the release using the hashtag #MyPrerogative (Figure 25) and tagging @BritneySpearsFragrance (PR Newswire, 2018) this allowed fans to know that she’s working on a new project within her fragrance range and could create hype around the release. In a short clip she also released on her social media she is seen flaunting her physique in a racy leather ensemble with thigh-high boots connected to the waistband (Figure 26) this is because the fragrance has a much more seductive and provocative character and she is showcasing this in her campaign (Katee, 2018).
The End of Celebrity Fragrances?
Celebrity fragrances have been around for almost 100 years and have sold billions of pounds’ worth of bottles. In 2014 celebrity fragrances made ¢1.3 billion a year out of the ¢5.2 billion the fragrance industry made on a whole in the US which is a huge chunk of the total (Bourne, 2014). However, in recent years there’s been speculation that celebrity fragrances just aren’t making the money they did before. Celebrity fragrances don’t quite have the same pulling power as they did in the past however this isn’t down to people not buying as many fragrances its more about how trends change and so people are not currently interested in celebrity fragrances and are more interested in your high-end fragrances such as Chanel and Prada people don’t feel the need to buy into that celebrity lifestyle anymore (Capon, 2018). Figures released show that sales in 2016 of celebrity fragrances have declined by £12 million in the Uk which is a drop of 22% however, the actual fragrance market grew by 1.4% and the high-end brands also grew by 6% so people are changing what they want to wear as trends have moved on (McIntosh, 2017a).
People now appearing to be buying fewer fragrances per year but choosing a scent of a higher price and putting their money into a higher quality product (Sinks, 2017a). The drop could also be down to the fact that there aren’t many new releases of celebrity fragrances for customers to buy into and now the stigma around celebrity fragrances has faded so have the sales (McIntosh, 2017b). People are buying into either much cheaper fragrances or buying fewer high-end fragrances and the mid-range fragrance range which most of the celebrities occupy has been suffering. Although these fragrances aren’t making as much money as they used to the celebrity fragrances aren’t going anywhere purely because people still love them and will continue buying into them (Sinks, 2017b).
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