Pay Attention to Fragrance

No. 1 Growth in Beauty Market

Pay Attention to Fragrance

Despite the strain on the beauty market caused by the Covid-19 pandemic over the past few years, the fragrance industry continuously grew. This is also true within the beauty supply industry. Just look around the shelves and display units. Almost all products for body, hair, face, to lips are scented. Customers are sensitive to scents while many retail business owners are surprisingly ignorant. This gap should be narrowed if you want long run success in the beauty industry.

PART 1. Evolving Fragrance Market

Fragrance industry dodges the pandemic

“Invisible cloth”, “the best accessory that cannot be seen”, and other expressions refer to the fragrance. Many people desire to smell good with a scent that suits themselves and gives positive impressions to other people. As if people do not discard clothes and pillows of the lost loved ones and keep their scent around, it is said that in a crisis, the most primal sense, the sense of smell, becomes most relied. Is that why? At the onset of the pandemic, the global cosmetics market was in a crisis mode while the fragrance industry flourished. America was not an exception.

NPD noted high growth rate of the perfume industry in “Report on Perfume Consumption” (2021)

American market research institution NPD Group reported that the U.S. retail sales growth of fragrance in 2021 surpassed all other beauty categories, and the sales of fragrance reached the same level as skincare products for the first time. In 2021, 45% of the total fragrance sales revenue of the year was attributed to the fourth quarter, and the holiday seasonal sales grew by 35%. This trend has not stopped in the first half of this year, and it is anticipated to show continuous growth through May with many holidays and the summer vacation season.

There could be a few reasons for the unprecedented growth of the fragrance industry during the pandemic. First of all, smell is closely related to hygiene, which has made to the center of attention for the public during the Covid-19 pandemic. Second, the sense of smell can be simultaneously satisfied while doing other things such as working. Third, many people who have confined themselves in their home increased their spending for stimulating senses, and the fragrance became largely utilized for its low cost and being a good choice to calm their emotion. In other words, people naturally became highly aware of scent while spending most time at home wearing masks.

Aside from perfumes and colognes, home fragrance products such as candles and diffusers to cover an area of indoor space with scent have become popular. Also popular is body products that allow you to enjoy a bath while enjoying a great scent. Fragrance is becoming more and more important in the beauty industry.


Shifting Fragrance Trend

Perfume and Cologne: focus on personality

When it comes to luxury perfumes, you think of Chanel No. 5 and other names like Bvlgari, Lanvin, Gucci, and Hermes. However, the luxury perfume market is now shared by new names who are expanding their territory. They are so called niche perfumes, and most notable names include Jo Malone and Blanche. As in the Italian word “nicchia” meaning a small gap, niche perfume refers to the expensive premium perfume for few.

Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay Cologne Just like the manufacturer’s description “childhood memories of blackberry picking”, the fresh and sweet fruity scent is well balanced with heavy and cool scent. Made of natural ingredients, the fragrance does not feel artificial and provides a neutral scent.


Byredo Blanche The signature perfume from Byredo is often compared to soap or fabric softener smell. This nostril-refreshing scent comes with a fresh laundry feel mixed with floral-musk-sandalwood notes.

Niche perfumes have unique personalities that cannot be found in brand name perfumes. They are often for both genders, and instead of heavy notes that dominated the perfume market traditionally, such as floral, citrus, and so on, heavy and impressive notes like woody and earthy are frequently found. As opposed to the expensive niche perfumes, there are many smaller perfumeries who make “indie” perfumes with unique identities at much lower costs, and a beauty supply store can be a great distribution channel for them.


Fragrances: well being in mind

In the age where everyone wears a facial mask, “aroma therapy” is an important reason for the rise of the fragrance industry. Aroma therapy aims to benefit the body and mind using the essential oils extracted from fragrant plants. Many essential oils with natural fragrances are known to stimulate the cells in the skin for regeneration, improve the blood circulation and muscle tone, and reduce mental stress.

On the other hand, the artificial fragrances are made from a mixture of dozens of fragrance materials and reportedly increase the risk of allergies and central nerve system diseases. Hence, in the fragrance market, plant-based all natural fragrances are preferred by an increasing number of consumers. Consumers can use them at home, forgoing a visit to a spa, through an inhaler or a diffuser and adding a few drops in the body lotion to massage into the skin. The increased popularity of home therapy use for essential oils caused many beauty supplies to carry them.

CCDC Shop Black Castor Essential Oil

PART2. Beauty Supplies Embrace Fragrances

According to a report by Nielsen, African Americans represent the biggest consumer of fragrances as they spent $151 million in 2018, amounting 23% of the total spend. Beauty supply retail stores who mainly serve the African American consumers carry many fragrance products throughout the store. Generally speaking, when consumers make a purchase, they consider price, features, and scent, in that order, but nowadays a new consumption pattern of considering features and scent over the price is trending.

Various body oils occupying the counter tops at a retail store

Air fresheners and incense sticks are sold at most beauty supply retail stores. They can be sprayed or burned

Scent plays a significant role in product development as well. From chemical companies, we could hear that scent can be the game changer in addition to features when asked about the new product trend. Accordingly, they do a lot of market research and survey of beauticians about the scents. A company that develops and supplies natural ingredient body and hair products to beauty supplies shared its experience where they tried to go without scent in the beginning but after noticing that customers almost always smell the product, turned back to including fragrances, although only in small amounts and subtle ones.

“Good products smell good,” is a widely accepted common sense in the beauty supply market, so the fragrance is quintessential. Products should be developed upon constant research and analysis on trend and customer preferences on fragrance.


The Fragrance Wheel Methodology

Generally, the following terms are typically used to categorize different fragrances.

1) Floral: Scents of flowers and their leaves. A classic example of fragrance.
*4 major floral scents: rose, jasmine, muguet (lily of the valley), and lilac
2) Citrus: zesty and fresh smell associated with lemon and oranges
3) Green: refreshing scent of grass and plants
4) Woody: wood and fire licked wood, pencil-like, Buddhist temple
5) Mint: menthol and various mint scents
6) Herbal: herbal scents such as lavender, rosemary; clean and fresh sensation
7) Fruity: smell of fruit, this sweet smell is often associated with fruit juice and appetizing
8) Spicy: scents that you can smell from pepper and cinnamon
9) Powdery: dry and warm, often associated with cosmetics
10) Wateric: scents of water and sea, pear, magnolia, and moss
11) Soapy/aldehydic: scents often associated with soap and leather
12) Balsamic: vanilla, Tonka bean, and so on; heavy and sticky
13) Oriental: scents of oriental culture, infused with rich and dramatic scents or spices

It is understood that people can smell about 400 distinct scents. And the combination of these 400 scents can create uncountable numbers of unique scents. Just to take an apple as an example, different kinds of apple smell different and the same apple can develop different smell over time as it ripens, contributing to 400,000 apple scents.  It would be impossible to identify and analyze each individual scent. Therefore, the fragrance industry adopted the Fragrance Wheel as a standard for categorizing smells. Developed in 1983 by Michael Edwards, it was updated several times and as of 2010, we have the four families, namely floral, oriental, woody, and fresh, which are further divided into 14 sub-families.


Fragrance in beauty supply products

If you ask at a beauty supply what is the most popular scent, the answer is often vague: “sweet and minty“. Sweet scents would include those popular fruit scents such as mango, peach, and pineapple.

Shelves filled with fruit scented products at a beauty supply

Minty refers to those mint/herb scents including peppermint and tea tree, and they are mostly associated with odor-fighting, itchy-relieving hair products. Especially, the preference of mint can be traced back to the African Americans’ peculiar love for menthol cigarette. Menthol cigarettes are infused with mint flavor, and a predominant 85% of their buyers are African American.

Hair spray products with mint and herb scents

However, when it comes to the millions of scents used in beauty supply products, sweet or minty would be too simple of an expression. Scents are diversifying and the trend is shifting. Let’s analyze the scents of popular products at retail stores.


Water/mist—floral, fresh (wateric)

Rose water and mists for moisturizing, controlling sebum production, and soothing skin are longtime steady sellers. For healthy growth and great smell, they are often sprayed onto hair. As rose extracts are used, the prominent fragrance family is floral. However, lately the niche market for products with whitening, moisturizing, milder scents and antioxidants is growing. Notable examples are rice and aloe water/mist.

Rose water / Rose/rice/aloe mists

Edge control & styling gel—fresh (fruity)

When it comes to hair products, sweet fruit scents are the most common. Recently, soft and subtle scents incorporating natural fruit extracts are preferred over artificial and strong scents.

Ebin New York 24 Hour Edge Tamer Refresh
Popular for the lasting hold for 24 hours as its namesake, the Edge Tamer product line is now available refreshed. Each item includes fruit extracts that provide nourishment, shine, and strength. From wild berries to watermelon, banana, acai berry, kiwi & pineapple, mango, citrus, coconut, and peach; the total of nine sweet fruit scents are available for your taste.


Style Factor Edge Booster
Found at the end cap in most beauty supplies, these yellow, pink, blue, and green gels catch people’s eyes. Made of natural argan oil, it dries quickly without leaving oily residue and enables various styling with strong hold. Each color comes with different fruit scents including cherry, blueberry, and pineapple. This wide range of fragrance choices has been received well.


Universal Beauty Via Natural Premium Styling Gel
Newly released in 2022, these styling gels were developed through Universal Beauty’s long research. With olive, aloe vera, vitamin E or camellia oil, the gels are packed with features including strong hold, wet texture, no damage and no flaking. In addition to all those, the fresh scents created by fruit extracts make the gels outstanding.


Shampoo/conditioner – floral, fresh & woody, oriental

Consumers can be nit-picky about scents here. Traditionally, floral and fruity scents dominated the field, but currently soft fruit scents with powdery/aldehydic notes and woody, oriental families are winning popularity over strong and stimulating sweet smells.


Cantu Acai Berry Collection
Cantu, a hair care brand, introduces a new product line. Shea butter and various essential oils nourish curl, wavy, and kinky hair, and the blend of acai berry, shea butter, and safflower seed oil brings a soft and sweet scent.


Creme of Nature Pure Honey Shampoo/Conditioner
Under the slogan of “hair food”, Creme of Nature® brings Pure Honey Collection, incorporating natural honey, coconut oil, and sha butter to provide moisture, soft texture, and shine to dry and frizzy hair. Mild and subtle coconut and vanilla scents are beloved by customers


Mielle Pomegranate & Honey Shampoo
Only containing organic ingredients, Mielle’s all natural hair care products are considered high end in beauty supplies. With pomegranate and honey, this non-sulfate shampoo maintains moisture and effectively removes oil and tangle in the hair. Critics say luxurious, subtle scents last for an extended time.


Body oil/butter—fruity, woody (herb) plus an extra

Like other product categories, fruits and herbs make up the majority, but the recent trend calls for “natural, organic, and pure” fragrances. Essential oils become even more important.

CCDC Shop Le Cercle Essential Oil
Without chemical fragrances, these essential oils are made of organic, natural ingredients. Extracted and distilled from flowers, leaves, fruit peels, and wood barks, the essence oil is packed with great scent and ingredients. Comes in high potency for making lotion, shampoo, soap, and aroma candles, you should dilute it before applying onto skin.


The Purity Body Butter
The Purity brings handmade body/hair products with all natural ingredients safe for the human body, and the scents are created by essential oils or skin-safe grade fragrances. The body butter comes with gummy texture and rich nourishments and available in 10 varieties with nine scents, including mango, baby powder, strawberry, and honey, and a scent-free product for sensitive skin.

On the other hand, specialty premium oils with hundreds of scents are being brought to the market in parallel to the growth of the fragrance market and the niche perfumes for personal identity.

Akim‘s Body Oil
Since 2001, Akim, a local body oil producer, has brought 400 different scented products. Musk families, including pink sugar, baby powder, Egyptian musk, and so on and sweet scents are steady sellers, and exotic scents named after popular brands and celebrities are available.


Well’s oil Premium Perfume Oil
Well’s Oil, renowned for its organic herb and natural oil products, launched a premium oil line. Premium Perfume Oil comes in 160 different scents and promises a long lasting fragrance due to the high potency. Top 5 best sellers are Pink Sugar, P.S.Y., Pink Friday, Paris Hilton, and Lick Me All Over; available in roll-ons for direct application on the skin and multi-purpose caps.


Deodorants—floral, fresh, woody, oriental

Despite being an essential body care item for many beauty consumers, surprisingly a lot of beauty suppliers do not carry them. The possible explanation is that they cannot compete with big-box stores and dollar stores in price. Nonetheless, in many retail stores, deodorants sell well at a higher price, reportedly. Considering the expanding deodorant market and the rise of premium products, they have a potential to become a beauty supply essential. Like others, all-natural, environment-friendly, and organic deodorants are popular.


Native Plastic Free Deodorant
Instead of toxic aluminum, vegan ingredients neutralize odor-causing bacteria. All scents are unisex, across the oriental, woody, and fresh families such as coconut & vanilla, lavender & rose, cucumber & mint, and citrus & herbal musk.


Dove Advanced Care Dry Spray Antiperspirant Deodorant
Antiperspirant deodorant that covers 48 hours against sweat and odor. It can be sprayed for immediate refreshment, and the natural oil ingredients protect the skin gently. Available in 15 different scents, including shea butter, rose, apple, coconut, powder, mineral, and lavender, from which you can freely choose.


New Trend in Beauty Supply Fragrance

A close examination of products available at beauty supplies reveals that the scent became more important while the popularity of each scent dramatically changed. Even for those feature-focused products like hair gels, often available scent-free, most manufactures opt in to include scents, and the scents that used to be strong enough to attract insects outdoor are being replaced with mild, long-lasting, delicate scents like shea butter and coconut.

In the past, fruity and minty scents dominated the field, but woody and oriental scented products are providing more choices to show personality. Refreshing lavender, herbs like rosemary, and calm and comfort aroma scents are also on the rise. Especially, shampoo and body products have shown a distinct movement highlighting eco-friendly scents and ingredients. Like the perfume market focusing on the personality, premium oil industry is bringing more and more diverse scents. To sum, beauty supply fragrance trend echoes the overall fragrance market trend.