Global sales of high-end fragrances began to pick up during the pandemic and have been gathering steam during the past year.
Glassmaker Pochet du Courval SAS has been making perfume bottles since before the telephone was invented. It says it produced the first bottle designed by a perfumer in 1853 for Guerlain. The company delivered 270 million glass perfume bottles and beauty jars this year, a record for the 400-year-old company.
Sales of high-end fragrances began to pick up during the pandemic. While sales of other luxury goods have slowed somewhat, demand for perfumes has remained robust. The growth has led to a debate among analysts and beauty company executives. Fragrance is "a bit of an acquired taste, like wine," one analyst says.
High-end fragrance sales in the US from January through October totaled $4.6 billion, up 56 percent from 2019 levels. Unit sales were up nearly one-quarter in the first 10 months of this year versus pre-pandemic. Fragrance manufacturers and retailers expect demand for their high-end products to remain strong throughout the holiday season.
Perfume is increasingly seen as part of daily or weekly practices to boost overall "wellness," Coty CEO Nabi says. Consumers increasingly view perfume as similar to skin care, Nabi has said. Fragrances were popular during the pandemic because they were accessible luxury and a pick-me-up. Sephora expects its home-fragrance business to nearly double over the next couple of years.
Beauty executives are bullish on the demand for fragrances globally, especially in Western Europe and China. Fragrance demand is "a mindset shift that I do not see going away," Coty CEO Nabi says. Analysts are concerned that the category could take a hit from high inflation and dwindling savings.
The sector has already met traditional supply-chain challenges that may hinder expansion. Fragrance companies are having difficulty obtaining the glass, caps, and spray pumps required to construct perfume bottles. Some suppliers have also struggled to meet increased customer demand, particularly those who were already playing catch-up after halting operations during the pandemic's peak.