American Marketer

Fragrance and personal care

Organic search discovery presents a problem for fragrance brands

September 26, 2017

Search is very important for retailers as they compete with Amazon. Image credit: Bloomingdale's


Fragrance brands are struggling in the search category, as the particular nature of the fragrance industry makes it difficult to attract organic search hits.

As outlined in L2’s new report on the beauty and fragrance categories, searches for fragrance usually turn up retailers rather than brands or customers specify the brand in their search queries, stifling organic discovery for fragrance brands. This data shows that fragrance brands need to strengthen their search presences in order to capitalize on the valuable discovery hits the channel can provide.

Organic search
Search is one of the more valuable channels for brands as it allows them to capture attention from new customers who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in or familiar with the brand.

Organic search discovery is a tool that can help a brand grow its customer base in a natural way.

One category that is struggling with search however is the fragrance industry. The reason for this has to do with customer search behavior and who dominates search results.

For the most part, when customers search for fragrances through a search engine, they specify the brand they are looking for already, shutting out other brands from appearing in those search results.

If the customer does not specify the brand, however, the results are usually dominated by retailers whose collection of fragrances are more appealing to the average customer than the single collection most brands have to offer.

In response to this, L2 notes that many fragrance brands are shuttering fragrance-only sites and instead relying on traffic from retailers and bigger fashion brands to get more hits from search.

Stiff competition
Search has become of growing importance in the past few years, particularly as stiff competition in the ecommerce space means that retailers and brands need every advantage they can get to acquire new customers.

Hoping to combat problems caused by digital retail giant Amazon, department stores are now looking to paid search to increase visibility, according to L2.

In a recent report, L2 found that department stores see positive results from organic search visibility but are lagging behind major beauty leaders and cosmetic brands. Cosmetic brands are leaning more towards specialty retailers instead of department stores, which is why the search visibility is a problem (see story).

In order to deal with this increased difficult in search, L2 suggests that brands work more closely with retailers for paid media and advertising so that those brands will show up alongside the retailers that tend to dominate those search results.

Secondly, brands need to work with licensers to ensure that fragrances are being promoted on the main navigation page on the site and not tucked away in several layers of navigation, which can hurt fragrance labels in terms of search results.

Finally, L2 recommends taking a heavy-duty approach to Instagram, which for many is one of the primary ways the search out and discover new fragrance brands and products.

With these strategies in mind, the particularly difficult search situation that fragrance finds itself in can be alleviated.