While innovative new packaging can create excitement around a brand, can it truly pick up a floundering market? Industry expert Michael Edwards identified 815 fragrance launches in 2007 in his Fragrances of the World 2008 book, compared with 581 in 2006. These numbers reiterate that while there is much talk in the industry about there being too many launches, nobody is willing to really address the problem. Perhaps it is finally time for the industry to put its money where its mouth is.
— From Spring brings a flurry of design to fragrance world, by Alex Wynne with Naomi Marcoulet at Cosmetic News (please note that the link is to the front page and not to the article itself, as Cosmetic News does not make its archives available to non-subscribers. If you want to read the article, read it soon).
So, if we got 581 perfumes in 2006 and 815 in 2007, how many will we get this year? Can we stand 1000 new perfumes a year?
An aside: I posted a little rant on this subject last year (see News flash: there are WAY too many perfumes), and thought it would be interesting to know how many perfumes I actually announced here in 2007. The official Michael Edwards count is likely to be different than mine: I miss all sorts of mass market fragrances and I don't always list fragrances that won't be released in the United States; Michael Edwards doesn't include many of the little "indie" brands that I try to cover. I am still working on my own count (i.e., I am still procrastinating so it isn't finished yet), but it looks like it will turn out to be fewer than 800.
That really is an outrageous amount, be it 800 or 581 – completely pointless. I wish there was a way this could change but I'm afraid that will not happen in the near future.
What a waste alltogether.
It is true, 581 was already too many. And nope, short of world economic disaster, no end in sight.
I wish someone would do a study on how many of each year's launches are still in production in 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years.
At this rate, everyone in the Western world who wears perfume will be able to have his/her own signature scent without anyone duplicating anyone else's.
Well, no need to spend thousands on a bespoke fragrance. I don't know what the answer is to all this. Should companies spend their money on re-launching old classics instead of coming out with so-so fragrances that eventually fade from the marketplace? Wouldn't a big splashy expensive launch for a frgrance that will sell for years be better? If only celebrity fragrances would go out of style like reality TV and rap music probably will/should…
So true — but even then, it leaves an awful lot of product on the counters.
And LOL — good point on the signature scents
I confess I don't really understand the issue concerning the increasing number of fragrances being launched each year. It doesn't really feel like a problem to me. What exactly IS the problem? As your average busy human being, I've got plenty of time to try any number of them at my leisure and buy anything I like (wallet allowing). There are lots and lots of great scents being released along with scents that somebody else might love. I might not get a chance to sniff every one of them, but that's okay. And if they're successful or unsuccessful, that doesn't really have a negative effect from a consumer's perspective; that's the industry's issue, and if they're content to play the game this way, all the better for me; deep discounting is half the fun!! Just because there are zillions out there doesn't mean somehow there's this finite pie of that's being divided so that each fragrance is necessarily reduced in individual quality. The great lines will continue to produce great fragrances regardless of what the rest are doing. New lines will find a way to be discovered; if they're good, we'll hear about them through Now Smell This and any number of other great blogsites, and Lucky Scent, The Perfumed Court et al will be happy to have them aboard. As for established lines, will Ormonde Jayne somehow suffer because of the sheer numbers of competing fragrances? Will Hermes? Guerlain? Of course not. Consumers are intelligent enough to spot quality when they sniff it. It's kind of like love itself: why is lots “too much”? I'm not trying to be facetious; I'm truly curious as to why there's this sense of alarm.
Here are two points in my argument about why it is too much:
a) Getting yourself noticed is now massively expensive. Many brands now find it necessary to spend upwards of $20m on advertising. When you have to spend that much just to get somebody to try the juice, you can hardly afford *not* to have the juice be an easy crowd-pleaser.
b) The “quality” pie isn't entirely finite, but it is *somewhat* finite. In the happy golden days, perfumers might work for years on a single scent. Perhaps not all perfumes were given that much attention, but still, the turnaround time was far more lenient. Now it is rush, rush, rush — and that is the main complaint I see perfumers themselves making when they're interviewed by the press. So it is no surprise that everything smells like everything else. Do note that while there are more perfumers working now than there were 10 years ago, there aren't *exponentially* more perfumers — in other words, clearly more stuff is being made in less time. There is no way this does not impact quality — and I'd say the quality is suffering in the niche sector (which has less monetary resources to expend) even more than in the mainstream sector.
So, it might be true that consumers are intelligent enough to spot quality when they sniff it, but I'd argue that there is less quality out there to spot. To take just one of your examples, Hermes — there is no way this does not impact Hermes. Fragrance is the cash cow for almost every luxury brand on earth, and Hermes is no exception. JCE no doubt has more time to develop at Hermes than he might as a younger perfumer at one of the big fragrance & flavor companies, but I do not think for even a moment that the development of Kelly Caleche took place entirely outside of commercial considerations. It is easy enough to imagine KC in a more daring form if it did not have to compete w/ 800 other perfumes. With 800 other perfumes, it HAS to perform well on a blotter in the first 60 seconds, or it isn't going to sell.
I have a perfume database of my own. I'm working on it for a couple of years. For my pleasure In the year 2007 I have 1263 perfumes. A bit more then 815.
I think that amount of perfumes is a waste of time and money. Not to mention essential oils…They are making perfume like it equals the need for gasoline. We all know that most of those perfumes won't be around in even in year…
I meant in even a year…
I think part of the problem is the flanker phenomenon. Look at Givenchy – the sales are good for Very Irresisitible, so they introduce flankers of VI to capture a larger share of their customer. But it just becomes confusing… I love Issey (yes, it's aquatic but i love it, no excuses ) but I tend to feel a bit hamster-on-a-wheel-ish because every year they come out with a new LE version that I have to chase down and purchase because God Knows if I'll ever need it. And that's what flankers are for – to keep us on that path of fragrance consumerism.
Anyway. I just ignore most of the new ones anyway, unless I think they're appealing and truly have something to offer. And I tend to revisit older ones… like AG Petit Cherie (wearing it now!) and I ended up selling 2 bottles of it today. lol
Very well spoken Robin and I completely agree with you.
The question is how can the tide turn, how the 'Niagara waterfall' of scents each year diminish?
Will most people even give it 60 seconds?
Think about it. 800 new launches a year is about 16 a week. If a big department store gets even half of these and you go once a month, then there are 30 new things for you to sniff every time you go. Are most people willing to spend a half-hour trying these things, and really thinking about them? No; they're going to make a beeline for the celebrity name, the spectacular bottle, the scent with the huge unavoidable advertising campaign, which means that every scent that means to succeed is going to have to raise the stakes in the same way.
I would imagine that most people (not us) just take a sniff of the blotter and make a snap judgement, so the scent has to be instantly likable right out of the bottle. It can't be interesting or challenging; it has to be an immediate blockbuster, and that means it has to be almost exactly like everything else that people have already indicated they like (focus groups!), with a minor change–a new molecule, a different concentration of some element–to set it apart.
Another problem with all these launches is that sales people have to be (theoretically) trained about each of them, which is not only improbable but impossible.
Oh, I don't think it will diminish. But that won't stop me complaining about it
That all presumes that most of the 800 are “prestige” mainstream designer launches — I don't think there are quite that many scents going into department stores. But your point still stands, which is that most people won't smell most new perfumes at all, and they'll discard them quickly if they don't smell good.
But I can't claim I don't ever “just take a sniff of the blotter and make a snap judgment” — I do that all the time. I don't have time to give serious consideration to everything. If the scent isn't “newsworthy” AND it smells mind-numbingly dull, I might ignore it.
I don't know what the answer is either. There ought to be fewer launches is all I know
WOW!!! I'm absolutely positive I did not announce that many — your list must be very inclusive (?)
Perfumesecrets, it is true, most of them are not on the market long, and a huge number of the “800” are limited edition anyway.
I'm grateful to you, R., for the enlightenment. Do you know if any of the famous/great noses out there — JCE, for example — have commented in the press about the current state of affairs? That would be interesting. . .
Of course, far be it for me to argue for one second that the development of KC took place devoid of commercial considerations. And I wouldn't argue that there may be fewer quality releases out there in percentage terms. I guess I still wonder if the basic argument — that the root of the problem is that there are too many fragrances out there, period — doesn't entirely capture the complexity of the situation. Perhaps to say there is not enough time taken in the development of fragrances, not enough commitment to quality, and too much emphasis on the potential for commercial success in the industry would be more to the point. I realize it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg predicament, too. In any case, Robin, thanks again for such a helpful response.
I think that it is impossible to count …
From the small shop making it own Eau de Toilette to the major brand … how are you able to count ?
“Limited Edition”, “Summer Edition”, “Collector Edition”, … do you count them each time ? It s not “real” launch, but only something based on advertising in order to retain the costumers.
I am more interessed in real “new creation” per year … in my opinion less than 20.
We know all that there is two different battles.
1 – The advertising battle between each major house, which is reduced in fact to launch limited edition on the major success of the house.
2 – The niche battle between “private collection” (“l'art et la matiere”, “hermessence” … ) and niche house.
I am only interested in the second battle. It is still concerning less than 10% of the sells (even in France) but certainly more than 90% of the creation.
In 2004 i have talked with a commercial from LVMH who told me that the great perfume houses were bitter. They have lost credibility and creativity during the last 20 years. All energy has been concentrated in advertising battles.
The mojor perfume houses have now their own “niche collection” fellowing the Serge Lutens/Shisiedo exemple.
I try to put perfumes from all nationalities and brands. If a perfume is released in 2007 even if in only one country, for me it was released in 2007, I also try to put every limited edition. Well, I do a lot of research and try to find every fragrance that is released.
Right now I'm checking the database to see if I have any errors or double entries, but even if I have that kind of errors I have a lot more then 815 perfumes in 2007
I haven't read JCE's new book since it's in French, but perhaps he discusses the issue there? I don't know.
It is a big chicken-and-egg situation. But personally, I would argue that there are fewer quality releases, percentage-wise.
That must be a lot of work — I'm impressed.
Agreed, it is very hard to get an accurate count — esp. since you can't always easily find out if a limited edition flanker is in fact a new juice or just a repackaging of an old one.
I'm with you, Robin. I really, truly meant, “I would NOT argue;” that sentence of mine was a bit confusing!