Mainstream fragrance brands smell the fear from niche perfumers

December 19th 2014 / Elizabeth Bennett


Industry analysts report that small, niche perfume brands are starting to steal market share from the £17 billion fragrance industry

You only have to visit the recently opened Salon de Parfums on Harrods sixth floor to see the current trend in the fragrance market. Harrods’ fragrance hall, once reserved purely for storied fashion houses, is now offering an expanding selection of niche and world-exclusive brands. Analysts report the shift is down to a greater number of customers now favouring a more unique scent and dismissing mainstream fragrances that can inevitably end up smelling the same. Although there are no official statistics confirming the market share held by niche fragrance brands it is predicted to now be at around ten percent.

The increase in smaller trendy cosmetic stores such as Space NK and the decline in the interest in celebrity perfumes is thought to be the reasoning behind the change. Perfume sales at Coty - who make celebrity fragrances by Beyonce, David Beckham and Katy Perry - have been flattish to declining in North America and Western Europe for the past two years. Plus, niche brands, although often more expensive suit savvy customers who prefer the higher concentrations of perfume extracts and more natural ingredients which tend to last longer.

Consequently, larger brands have now started to up their game when it comes to their scent collection. As opposed to just offering ‘flankers’ - multiple variations of one scent which can confuse the customer and crowd the market - they are focusing on using more original ingredients and limited edition scents.

Interestingly, Estee Lauder Companies have also recently jumped on the niche fragrance bandwagon. The company which owns Jo Malone – once considered a niche brand – alongside fragrance favourites Tom Ford and DKNY, recently added niche fragrance brands Le Labo and Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums to their repertoire.


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