For my PEST report I am focusing on the perfume market in the UK. I find the way the fragrance industry displays its products interesting. I am going focus on the idea of “buying a moment of ownership” that this industry uses to sell their products. Being part of the cosmetic market it almost completely relies on peoples’ vulnerability of wanting to be more attractive to a possible partner. Therefore there is a distinctive style used to promote these products. Display and packaging design are important in this industry, as they tap into peoples’ desire of wanting to own something beautiful (even if the object has no use). A lot of peoples decision of which perfume to purchase is based on the design of the packaging; it has to look attractive on the dressing table. Sales also depend on displays customer service – there is a luxurious quality to buying cosmetics and fragrances that can make the experience enjoyable (unlike any other sort of product), especially in department stores. In this report I compare the product portrayed by the brand and the reality. I also explore how fragrance companies protect their identity and how the current economic climate has affected them.
All fragrance brands are protective about thire ingredients and visual identities. This is because, unlike most consumer products, the customer completely immerses themselves into it. Not only do they choose the product based on its packaging and display design – they also inhale the product and allow it to become their scent (a very intimate experience for a consumer item). People have a favorite perfume and wear it everyday – as a consequence they become walking advertisements for that product. Understandably, fragrance companies defend their identity and scent through copyright. For example, according to International Law Office (February 2013) “In 2002 Lancome won court appeal to get their perfume trade marked after Kecofa infringed on it”. However this was a landmark case and trade marking a scent can be very difficult, which is why brands go to huge efforts to design unique packaging and displays, as this persuades customers to choose their perfume and become a loyal customer.
In 2013 new EU legislation was brought in help strengthen the safety of cosmetic produce. Companies can now only use chemicals that are authorized and given a safety assessment by the EU. This is interesting because, like everything for human consumerism, perfume has to have the list of ingredients on the back of the packaging. This is finely printed on the back of the box, deliberately not wanting to draw attention to the long list of chemicals. This is very different from the language used and how much effort is given to inform the customer of the “scent’s” ingredients. For example the perfume L.I.L.Y by Stella McCartney describes itself like this “L.I.L.Y is a journey through the senses. It begins with the smell of a spring morning, dappled sunlight through the trees and a vision of delicate lily of the valley. It is the passage of time across a forest floor. The touch of moss and the darker intensity of truffles. It is masculine and earthy, but still seductive and sensual. The bottle, inspired by English cut-crystal vases, is encased in a double, silver metallic frame and was inspired by Stella’s love of vintage glassware and modern art” (Stella McCartney December 2013) After comparing the two very different ingredients lists, It is perhaps reassuring that there is someone monitoring the chemicals used.
The cosmetic and Fragrance market has been hardly effected by the recession but it is in fact still growing, “The brand strength of cosmetics and fragrances has played a key part in this, with consumers still favoring well-established premium brands, such as Estée Lauder, Dior and Chanel, and many prepared to pay that extra bit’ to obtain higher quality goods” (Research and Markets: Cosmetics & Fragrances Market Report 2013). Also there has been growth in male fragrances “Sales of fragrances for men are soaring, driven partly by…ever-growing acceptance of male grooming” (Bainbridge, January 2013).Most woman use perfume “83% of women wear perfume occasionally and 36% wear fragrance every day” (Capozzi February 2013). Even though the high end brand is increasing, the fact that wearing a fragrance has become so engrained into our lives (even in this economic climate), explains why there has been a recent shift towards cheaper scents. In 2011 Lidl launched its first fragrance (under a private label) called “Madame Glamour”. It is interesting, even when faced with new competition from suppermarkets, that high end fragrances are still growing. Customer service has a lot to do with this, for example when recently buying a high end perfume for a present, not only did the attendant make me feel important, she also placed the lovely designed packaged product into a matching bag, protected it with tissue paper and then sprayed some of the perfume from a tester bottle into the bag. This made making the experience of buying the item and then owning and opening it even more special. People are prepared to pay more for this, “The fact that many consumers now consider both cosmetic and fragrance products to be essential, everyday items is likely to have boosted spending within the market in recent years, with many analysts suggesting that it could even be considered recession-proof” (Research and Markets 2013).
The designer has an interesting job of designing packaging, in particular the bottle itself, and the shop display for the fragrances. Humans have evolved to appreciate, love and want to own beautiful objects, even though they have no purpose to maintaining our existence. For example “Long ago, by the banks of a fast-running river in southern Africa, an inquisitive apeman….picked up the pebble and gazed at it…he was so impressed by it that he carried it a long way back to the cave where he lived….This remarkable stone, know today as the Makapansgat Pebble, is the oldest known are object in the world. There is no evidence that it was fashioned by the ape-man, but its presence in the cave confirms that he saw it as something important. It was the first knick-knack…and its owner was not yet quite human” (Morris, 2013 ). So the designer has to design an attractive bottle to ignite that strange desire in us to own it and take it back to our “cave”. However the design of the display is equally as important, “I see perfume as beautiful design. For some people, myself included, a beautifully designed space can have an immediate physical or emotional effect, through light, proportion, use of materials, colours and textures. The creation of scent is exactly the same …… architecture and perfume can have a profound effect on us…And the creative process for a fragrance or an interior space in not that dissimilar” (Vareldzis 2013). Hence a welldesigned display helps sell the experience of the high end brand; we know that the bottle of perfume is not going to look as beautiful in our home as it does on a stand surrounded by lighting, but it persuades us every time that the high end fragrances are desirable, creating a desire to buy them. This is the reason that even in a recession the industry is growing.
Having discussed animal instincts in the previous section, it also applies in this section. When we first evolved into a tribal society that is when we first started washing. If the tribe is to function efficiently, you cannot sleep with each other’s partners as this causes wasted energy on fights within the tribe. Therefore you wash to get rid of the smell of unwanted pheromones, to make yourself less sexually attractive. However sexual attraction is also power, so in replace of pheromones, woman use hand made scent. This is why in today’s modern society the fragrance industry is so strong. In a more and more equal society man now have to play this game. Male grooming is one of the fastest growing markets and this demand has boosted the fragrance industry “new research from Mintel reveals that beauty and personal care launches specifically targeted at men have increased globally by 70% over the past six years, 2007/2012” (Mintel, February 2013. It has also created a whole new audience for the designer to communicate with. Standards for men’s fragrances have gone up considerably as there is now more competition (you only have to compare modern fragrance design for men with the retro “Old Spice).
While there has been a major shift towards cheaper ranges of fragrance, the premium fragrance market is still growing, suggesting when is comes to looks and “attractiveness” we are still willing to spend more (even in a recession). It is the designer’s role to exploit that way of thinking and create beautiful packaging that hacks into consumer psyche that makes them want to own something beautiful and willing to spend that additional money.
People are becoming more conscious of ingredients in products, and are also becoming more aware of ethical issues involving consumer goods. “With new EU legislation limiting ingredients and animal testing, fragrance companies may feel the strain on adapting to these new rules” (Leah Tutt, 2013). However, being forced to change to benefit the customers peace of mind may well benefit fragrance companies in the long run; if the packing is designed correctly, using the label “not tested on animals” can help increase the value of a product.
Where places such as supermarkets and cheap perfume shops are affecting the sales of upmarket brands, the same can be said for apps, online shopping and shopping channels. Clever fragrance apps allow the user to select flavors that they want from their perfume, and then provide the consumer with a list of available brands that can be bought at a click of a button. Shopping channels and online shopping threaten the department store and high-end retailers in the same way, by offering quick purchases at cheaper prices.
However as the high-end fragrance market is still growing, this shows that the consumer is still willing and wants to pay more for a good service and real contact. The magic created by good display design and the experience created by this is what people are purchasing rather than the object itself – because as soon as the product is brought home and put in normal surroundings even the best designed perfume bottle loses a bit of its magic.
Technology is something that designers can incorporate into their displays; to help the high end retailers make the shopping experience more stimulating. Technology is developing more and more and creating new and exciting lighting and video displays and increasing use of lazier cutters and 3D printers it will be easer to create extravagant stands and displays quickly.
According to Burks (February 2013) “Eric Feigenbaum predicts how visual merchandising will change throughout the 21st century. For example, He expects companies to invest billions of dollars to gain worldwide recognition for their brands. Feigenbaum also expects stores to incorporate more technology into shopping experiences as they use strategically placed flat-panel screens to display the latest fashions and other items to shoppers”. The fact that brands are willing to spend billions on displays shows how important this is to selling a product.
The fragrance industry is probably only ever going to rise. The reason we want and need the products are so embedded into our human psyche, we are unlikely to stop purchasing this sort of product, as we are never going to stop wanting to appeal to a partner.
The design of the shop display and the way it relates to the product itself is incredibly intertwined, helping to persuade the customer to purchase an item because it looks good. This mixture of wanting to be attractive and to own something attractive is the strongest persuader in purchasing a consumer product. All the designer has to do is capture the imagination of the customer and create a beautiful space.