American Marketer

Fragrance and personal care

Leading with emotional connection boosts female fragrance engagement metric

June 15, 2017

Angelina Jolie based Mon Guerlain on memories of her late mother. Image credit: Guerlain


Female consumers in the United States are 35 percent more likely than their male counterparts to select a fragrance based on mood, causing an emotional tie to her preferred scent.

According to the latest research from The NPD Group’s Scentiment, a consumer insights and tool suite for the U.S. fragrance industry, the emotional connection to fragrances causes female consumers to be more frequently engaged with a particular scent. Emotional connections and nostalgia are often leveraged in fragrance marketing to better speak to female consumers.

Scent, senses and cents
Scentiment’s report also found that more than one-third of surveyed women see fragrances as a “personal treat” or a mood enhancing pick-me-up.

In addition, a woman often purchases a new scent based on her personality rather than other factors such as brand positioning or fragrance profile. When selecting a new fragrance, female consumers take approximately 10 to 20 times longer, compared to men who take about 30 seconds after testing a sample scent prior to purchase.

The hastiness of male consumers’ purchase decisions leads to men buying cologne on average only once or twice per year. Women, on the other hand, often purchase a new fragrance as frequently as once a month.

Consumer behavior has increased the popularity of smaller bottle sizes, as they offer a chance to enjoy the fragrance at less cost than full-size and open up space for purchases of other scents.

Per the report, NPD’s point-of-sale data found that sales of perfumes of less than one ounce have grown by 16 percent in the last two years. The sale of small fragrance bottles has increased two times faster than the total women’s perfume market.

Angelina Jolie worked with Guerlain to design a fragrance based on her late mother's favorite pressed powder (see story). Image credit: Guerlain

“Creating separate and unique strategies for men and women that align with their distinct purchasing behavior is important for brands and retailers to grow their fragrance business,” said Kissura Craft, director and fragrance industry analyst at The NPD Group, in a statement.

“To appeal to women, arranging fragrances on store and virtual shelves based on scent families allows women to gravitate toward a mood rather than be overwhelmed by the abundance of fragrances,” she said.

“For men, arranging scents by brand allows them to easily find their go-to scent, while at the same time considering a new one within the brand they already know.”

Additionally, from a marketing perspective, marketers should draft women’s fragrance campaigns with elements that recall a person, place or moment in time.

In 2015, Chanel personalized its fragrance marketing for N°5 by staging an intimate conversation with model and campaign ambassador Gisele Bündchen about the power of fragrance and smells.

During the monologue, Ms. Bündchen says “smell is a very powerful thing,” and connects this thought to how, when she visits her home country of Brazil, memories return because of the scent of the place.

Ms. Bündchen continued on to explain that if you smell a fragrance worn by someone, it may remind you of someone, even if it was from 20 years before. In the video, she linked this sentiment to the scent and perfume of her mother and hopes that her children remember the same (see story).