Smells Like Success At L’Oréal Luxe

How is L’Oréal Luxe developing and expanding its fragrance market?

Marc Dubrule, Director of Strategic Development at L’Oréal’s Selective Divisions shares insights into the Group’s artistic mastery of fragrance.

Fragrance at the peak of growth in last five years

Ever since the launch of Lancôme’s hugely popular La Vie est Belle back in 2012, L’Oréal has gone to from strength to strength with modern iconic fragrances. Think Giorgio Armani’s Sì, and YSL’s Black Opium and Mon Paris, just to name a few. With La Vie est Belle being Europe’s number-one perfume, and the recent Mon Paris in the US top ten, L’Oréal Luxe is certainly paving the way as global leader on the perfume market.

“Our perfumes are reporting average annual growth of 5.5%, putting us well above the market average, which has hovered around 3% in the last four years”, comments Marc.

But this recognition is far from new. It goes way back to 1964, when L’Oréal Group acquired Lancôme and set off half a decade so far of sweet smelling success. Let’s pick out a few highlights, starting with Fidji by Guy Laroche, the Group’s first fragrance in 1966, followed by Anaïs Anaïs in 1978. Drakkar Noir, in 1970 then became one of the world’s biggest selling perfumes. The nineties started with a bang with Trésor by Lancôme, with ten bottles still selling every minute around the world today, according to Marc. Then, Acqua Di Gio stole the show in 1996, and is still today an embodiment of masculine sophistication.

Inside the strategy of L’Oréal Luxe

Marc identifies two strategic strengths that explain L’Oréal’s high-calibre perfume profile.

Number one: quality, quality quality

It takes a multitude of different expertise areas to make this happen. Take the L’Oréal Olfactory Department for instance. “Expert perfumers identify the most interesting and complementary olfactory directions within each brand. They then work in partnership with the great perfume houses to figure out the composition of each fragrance, check the technical qualities — strength, diffusion and tenacity — and oversee the meticulous selection of raw ingredients,” says Marc.

Then there’s the Operations team,who take care of industrial excellence, from technical design and manufacturing, to packaging. “This task might involve 100 numbered and engraved units for a prestige limited edition just as easily as a run of several million units for a global product such as La Vie est Belle”, says Marc.

Number two: Capturing brand personality in a bottle

L’Oréal Luxe’s extensive portfolio consists of several brands which each have their own universe. The eternal femininity of Lancôme, the edgy cool of Yves Saint Laurent, to the modern chic of Maison Margiela, one of the alternative designer brands. It’s key to capture the essence and personality of a brand within a fragrance, especially for consumers who personally identify with brands for this reason.

All eyes on emerging markets

Now that L’Oréal Luxe sits comfortably in Western Europe and North America, the largest markets in terms of perfume consumption, it sets its sights on Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Luxury goods and beauty is gaining more attention in these parts of the world, and is reflected in recent figures. “Today, on a global selective perfume market worth around €15 billion, South America represents approximately €700 million, the Middle East €300 million, while China stands at over €350 million already”, Marc shares.

It comes down to understanding local trends and needs in order to localise strategies in new markets. No region is the same. The Middle East, for example, sticks to an ancient perfume tradition that dates back to 9th century, where the strong scent of agarwood is the core ingredient for unisex fragrances. Asian consumers go for the opposite side of the scent spectrum, and prefer fresh, feminine flowery notes. It’s no reason Miracle by Lancôme is so well received in China.

What’s next for fragrance?

Marc envisages a stronger focus on luxury for one. Then there’s a need for personalisation, to respond to the consumer preference to be original and stand out.

“The only thing certain is change. We are constantly making adjustments in our quest to create high-calibre, original and creative fragrances that match with men and women’s aspirations all around the world. Perfume is the quintessential expression of luxury”, says Marc.

Let’s keep our eyes peeled for 2017!

Source: Monthly Digest

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