Why Fragrance Sales Have Been Booming During the Pandemic

Fragrance gross sales have been hovering since final August, and jumped 45% in the first quarter.
They grew to become a small luxurious throughout the pandemic, in response to NPD Group’s Larissa Jensen.
“If you consider what all of us went by way of it might be … customers wanting to flee,” she stated.
See extra tales on Insider’s enterprise web page.

During arduous occasions, economists have traditionally turned to one thing known as the “lipstick index.” The pondering goes that even when occasions are powerful, individuals will nonetheless carve out room for small luxuries — like, say, a tube of lipstick. In 2020, occasions had been definitely powerful, however shopping for a tube of lipstick was out of the blue pointless on condition that masks obscured our noses and mouths. Lipstick gross sales, and make-up gross sales general, plummeted all through 2020, making the lipstick index basically out of date.But there was one magnificence class that not solely prevented free-fall final yr, however thrived, resulting in a surprising surge in gross sales in the first quarter of 2021 that has even business veterans scratching their heads: fragrances.Fragrance gross sales had been up 45% in the first quarter of 2021 versus the yr prior, in response to information from market analysis agency NPD Group. Of course, the first quarter of final yr included the onset of the pandemic, when worry and uncertainty might have began to have an effect on shopper habits, so it is value evaluating it to the similar interval in 2019 — when perfume gross sales had been down 27% from the place they’re now. 

“I’ve been doing this 16 years and I’ve by no means, ever seen something like this,” Larissa Jensen, vice chairman and wonder business advisor at NPD Group, advised Insider.Why do individuals hold shopping for fragrance?The ballooning gross sales beg the apparent query: Why, in the midst of a pandemic that has sickened tens of hundreds of thousands of Americans and shut down a lot of society, did individuals hold shopping for fragrance? It’s not possible to know for positive, however Jensen has just a few guesses, the essential one being that perfume could also be the new lipstick index. NPD Group lately performed a shopper survey that requested why individuals had been shopping for fragrances. Half of the respondents stated it was a deal with for themselves — one other 20% stated it was a present for another person. It appears that in the absence of events for placing on make-up, customers opted for one more small luxurious, one which solely required a fast spritz. 

Read extra: TikTok is reshaping magnificence and skincare developments amongst teenagers. Here are the manufacturers which might be the largest winners.But Jensen took it one step additional. She stated that she thinks the rise in perfume gross sales is inextricably linked to the pandemic, a darkish time when individuals had been in search of a getaway, if solely mentally.”There’s a science behind your sense of scent and the way it’s straight associated to reminiscence — you scent one thing and it brings you again to a second in time,” Jensen stated. “And if you consider what all of us went by way of, it might be, to a level, customers wanting to flee.””You can see how perfume could be that magnificence class that is actually well-positioned as a method to carry our spirits,” she stated. 

‘Out of management’ gross sales

Jo Yong Hak/Reuters

The perfume class features a entire host of merchandise, not simply commonplace fragrance. As individuals stayed dwelling extra, they began searching for dwelling fragrances and candles, a sector that “has been, no pun meant, on fireplace,” Jensen stated. But what’s driving the skyrocketing gross sales is prospects shopping for jumbo-sized bottles of extremely concentrated scents like eau de parfums from luxurious manufacturers — and shopping for them in shops, not on-line. “The second shops began to open up regionally in June [2020], gross sales instantly pivoted again to predominantly brick and mortar, and it stayed that approach, and it nonetheless is that approach by way of 2021,” Jensen stated.According to NPD’s information, the perfume class climbed again into the positives in August of final yr and stayed that approach by way of the of the yr earlier than surging in 2021 — Jensen stated she expects that gross sales will probably be “uncontrolled” all through the second quarter of this yr. 

That upward trajectory mirrors the magnificence business extra broadly, which is seeing a resurgence as masks mandates recede for vaccinated individuals and society begins to reopen. Now, customers are going to wish to not solely look good once more, however refresh magnificence merchandise they in all probability have not touched in over a yr. Lipstick gross sales are anticipated to rise now that we do not have to cover our mouths behind masks, and weddings and journey alternatives will reignite the must dress up and put money into make-up, perfume, or hair care merchandise. After dwelling by way of a pandemic, these merchandise might sign, each outwardly and inwardly, that life is returning to regular. “It’s type of like a approach of type of ending your self and providing you with a way of normalcy that all the things’s going to be okay,” Jensen stated. 

Recommended For You

About the Author: Jessica