Top Selling Feminine Fragrances 2010 USA : Popular Perfumes

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Top Selling Feminine Fragrances 2o12 France

Top Selling Perfumes USA : Popular Fragrances Spring 2012

Top Selling Feminine Fragrances 2011 USA

Top Selling Feminine Fragrances for 2010 France

Top Selling Masculine Fragrances 2010 USA

I confess that I find the lists of fragrance top sellers fascinating, not necessarily from the perspective of revealing to me what is the best perfume on the market, but more as an indication of the general trends which shape the market and influence what we might find on the counter next season. Therefore, I decided to take a look at the top 20 fragrances, ranked by their sales in the US. As I browsed through the list, I noticed that feminine market preferences seem to be heavily focused on recent launches, while the masculine (to be posted next week) gravitates towards classics. Is it due to the conservative nature of the masculine market? Or perhaps is it a result of the onslaught of new launches and the lack of support for the pillar brands in the feminine market? I am still pondering this. Nevertheless, analyzing these lists is interesting, if only to know what the majority of people prefer. With the list below, I will provide my own commentary. In the parentheses, I indicate the year of launch.

20. Marc Jacobs Lola (2009)
Lola is a bubbly floral bouquet, liberally garnished with grapefruit and pear. Girly, pretty, with a hint of retro glamor. It does not offer anything new, nor does it have a particularly strong character. It is just like a big Hollywood blockbuster—a lineup of famous actors, a predictable plot, a happy ending, enjoyable enough.

19. Estée Lauder Sensuous (2008)
An unapologetically woody composition explored by a large house, Sensuous is one of my favorite recent launches. It is elegant, distinctive and memorable. While it borrows heavily from Shiseido Féminité du Bois, Sensuous takes the cedarwood-violet theme into a sheer floral direction.

18. Chanel Chance (2002)
Coco Mademoiselle relied heavily on Thierry Mugler Angel for its patchouli-cotton candy concept, while Chance relies just as heavily on Coco Mademoiselle. With a liberal dose of citrus and sheer floral notes, Chance smells like most of the Angelic gourmands on the market today. One thing is true, however: Chance is entirely undemanding and easy to enjoy, which is not something that can be said about Angel.

17. Marc Jacobs Daisy (2007)
A cousin to Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, Daisy is bubbly and fun. The apple-amber idea of Light Blue is interpreted through the prism of a candy shop—there is a strong caramel accent that gives Daisy its easygoing charm. Unoriginal, but very well-made.

16. Chanel Chance Eau Tendre (2010)
As with all Chanel fragrances, Chance Eau Tendre is a high-quality juice. For a quintessential citrusy fruity-floral, it is a good choice. It may be utterly commercial and market tested to death, but when Chanel wants to create a blockbuster, they know how to do it. Grapefruit and apple are set against a violet, hyacinth and jasmine heart, which rests on a Light Blue inspired ambery cedarwood base.

15. Gucci Guilty (2010)
Another blockbuster that plays by all of the rules: vivid citrusy top—check, pink peppercorns—check, sheer floral heart—check, fruity patchouli—check. Still, a very nicely rendered floral oriental idea.

14. Ralph Lauren Romance (1998)
A fragrance that started the trend of sheer mossy compositions with a strong floral heart. I never cared for Romance, which seems to be more sterile than romantic, but whenever I smell it against many new floral launches today, I admit that I find more interesting facets: the use of ginger to bring up the effervescent floral notes, the plush white musks that imitate the scent of clean skin, the subtle touch of dry woods.

13. Christian Dior J’Adore (1999)
For a fresh green floral, one cannot do better than J’Adore. As I discuss in my linked review, J’Adore has been reformulated and the current version smells quite different from the original. Still, the data show that sales of J’Adore continue to increase from one year to the next.

12. Lancôme Trésor (1990)
I was delighted to see something from twenty years ago in the list of top sellers, and I am especially happy to notice that Trésor has made the cut. This plush floral oriental is one of the fragrance legends, and it has inspired a whole family of offspring and outright copycats. Peach tinted rose, iris and violet rest on a delicious sandalwood and almond base, while a discreet touch of sage provides a delightful aromatic counterpoint to the warm layers of the composition.

11. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb (2004)
A peppery rose heart + Angel = Flowerbomb. While it is clearly derivate, Flowerbomb has such a vivacious, exuberant personality that it deserves some attention.

10. Clinique Happy (1997)
If I were to reach for a fruity-floral, I would certainly pick Happy. It is a terrific choice for those who love fruity-citrusy notes paired with crisp floral notes and sheer woods. Happy indeed has a very uplifting aura and an impressive sillage. Those who love dark, moody fragrances should steer clear of it.

9. Calvin Klein Euphoria (2005)
Fruity patchouli notes of Euphoria are common in today’s market, but what makes it distinctive is the strong green note. It serves as a brilliant counterpoint to the sweet, milky fruity accord. Euphoria is certainly quite commercial, so one should not expect any epiphanies.

8. Juicy Couture Viva la Juicy (2008)
A woody gourmand twist on the tuberose of the original Juicy Couture. Not bad, but smells like pretty much any other woody gourmand on the market.

7. Thierry Mugler Angel (1993)
Angel’s popularity has been tremendous, and it continues to inspire new fragrances and to top the lists of best sellers. What makes Angel fascinating is its distinctive character. No matter how much it has been copied, it continues to amaze with its powerful personality and unique signature. It is a love or hate fragrance, of which there are now few and far between.

6. Estée Lauder Pleasures (1995)
A trendsetter and a fragrance legend, Pleasures may have been copied to death, but it is still a terrific fragrance. The green notes accented with peppery notes are overlaid against a lush heart of rose and iris. An American classic.

5. Donna Karan Cashmere Mist (1994)
Another American classic, Cashmere Mist is a woody composition that cleverly uses musk and powdery notes to achieve a soft, velvety sensation. Those who love powdery notes should find it alluring.

4. Chanel No 5 (1921)
Iconic No 5 is the only grand parfum that continues to grace the lists of top 20 best sellers. Some attribute it to clever marketing. Some–to the draw of the legend. Perhaps the story is more complex than this. Yet, one thing is true—No 5 is one of the best quality fragrances one can find today. Smelling it, I invariably feel my heart skip a beat because such beautiful materials are difficult to find in any other perfume on the market today.

3. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue (2001)
Undeniably ingenious composition that takes the idea of an apple and presents it as a dry, crystalline still life. I love the citrusy accents as well as the gorgeous crisp amber that forms the base of Light Blue.

2. Estée Lauder Beautiful (1985) (increase)
While Beautiful is essentially a lavish floral bouquet of rose, jasmine, carnation and orange blossom, the mossy drydown lends it a dark twist. Sage and incense notes further enrich the classical romantic floral blend, making Beautiful a dramatic and memorable fragrance. If I were to name another great classic in this list, besides No 5, Beautiful would be my choice.

Drum roll, please…. The top selling fragrance for 2010 was…

1. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle (2001)
Chanel does Angel with Coco Mademoiselle, but it does so quite distinctively. It was one of the first fragrances to add an effervescent citrusy top and a radiant floral heart to Angel’s concept of patchouli + cotton candy. The result is a vivacious, bold composition with a big sillage. It has been just about as trendsetting as Angel itself.

Source: US department stores sales records

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34 Comments

  • karin: EL Beautiful is #2? Wow, that really surprises me. I’d be curious to know the demographics on this one. Are the wearers all 40+ (my guess) or is it also appealing to the younger crowd (doubt it)? I wore it in the 80’s, then moved on (used to love the body lotion, too, as I remember). Remembering the smell of it – it was definitely great. April 15, 2011 at 8:02am Reply

  • Alice C: Very interesting list. Not really sure what it means; I guess it is something to ponder. April 15, 2011 at 8:39am Reply

  • Irina: Well, who would be surprised with this list? Most names in it are sales associates’ bread-and-butter. SA spray on the people at the entrance, so most customers decide – why not? Why go somewhere else, why try something else? Valentine day, birthdays, anniversaries come and go, gift should be bought, Macy’s push the sales – that the nature of that numbers.
    Personally, I do not like most fragrances from this list. Sensuous – maybe, Pleasures – sometimes, Daisy – mostly yes, especially seasonal editions, Tresor – very much, Cashmere Mist – in the winter, but others? April 15, 2011 at 9:29am Reply

  • dleep: Very interesting article and I guess it is not to surprising. I have a few of those myself. April 15, 2011 at 11:12am Reply

  • Samarkand: Disappointing list of course. But could it be otherwise ? A French list would be quite different.

    I am very surprised to see no Guerlain at all. April 15, 2011 at 11:29am Reply

  • Maria: Lists are a wonderful thing. ‘We like lists because we don’t want to die’ sais Umberto Eco in an interview here [link no longer working]

    Thank you for info. It is good to know. I would have a try and say that it’s a lot about name, more than the juice itself. We have ‘Beautiful’, ‘Tresor’, ‘Euphoria’ etc. I know personaly few women who got ‘J’Adore’ as a present for very different reasons, but all having something to do with adoring. I’m afraid that even ‘Sensous’ made it to the list because of the name. As about Chanel 5, most probably it’s the mith. ‘Coco Mademoiselle’ is a more intersting story, I think it has a very appealing sound, bit kinky, bit inocent (much than Miss Dior Cherie – I don’t know I always think of these two in same category). I know so many women, young and old, who got Coco Mademoiselle as a present. April 15, 2011 at 8:04am Reply

  • Carla: I went through two bottles of Coco Mademoiselle when it first came out. It brings back fond memories but I wouldn’t buy another bottle. April 15, 2011 at 12:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: The data come from all department store sales, it is ranked in terms of the dollars sold.
    Like you, I do not think that Beautiful is a fragrance that appeals to the young market, but it has a very solid audience and a strong following. April 15, 2011 at 1:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: You are right, these fragrances may not be best sellers in terms of juice itself, but rather in terms of the brand. Brand still has the most powerful draw for consumers, both here and in Europe. April 15, 2011 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Glad to see Trésor on it. I love it, and have owned a bottle practically from the moment it first came out. Have you any idea of a European top-sellers list? April 15, 2011 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love these lists, especially comparing the US top sellers to the top sellers in other countries. Just fascinating! April 15, 2011 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Victoria: You are absolutely on the mark here, Irina, and you’ve put it well–these are top brands and they engage in really extensive marketing.

    My favorites from the list would be No 5, Light Blue, J’Adore (but the pre-reformulated version,) Tresor and Angel. Beautiful and Cashmere Mist are excellent too. Most others I can easily live without. April 15, 2011 at 1:48pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, not terribly surprising, although I was curious to see Beautiful so high up on the list (and to see that Lola even made the top 20!) April 15, 2011 at 1:49pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, the top sellers for France look much different (and more interesting for me personally!) I will post the list in the coming days for comparison. April 15, 2011 at 1:50pm Reply

  • Victoria: As for Guerlain, it simply does not have enough presence or brand power in the US, which is a shame. Same for many other European brands like Kenzo, Nina Ricci and Cacharel, which grace top 20 lists in France, while they are hardly in the top 50 in the US. April 15, 2011 at 1:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: Same for me with Coco Mademoiselle. I revisited it recently, and I smell changes in it. Maybe, I should compare side by side with my old bottle.
    The parfum is excellent though. April 15, 2011 at 1:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: Me too, very glad to see that Tresor made it to top 20.
    Yes, I have the lists for all of the European and Latin American countries, and it makes for a fascinating comparison. I will share what I can. One thing I can tell about the French top sellers is that they are far more interesting, with a heavier emphasis on classics. Guerlain Shalimar is in top 10, not just top 20! April 15, 2011 at 1:54pm Reply

  • Olfactoria: Very interesting!
    I am looking forward to the European version! April 15, 2011 at 4:11pm Reply

  • Elisa: My takeaway from this list is “sweet.” I wonder, in ten years, will feminine launches be sweeter yet? (I found Gucci Guilty and a few other big launches this year irksomely sweet.) Or will we start to swing back the other way? April 15, 2011 at 4:35pm Reply

  • sweetlife: I am fascinated by this list! It’s true what you and others were saying about these being the major brands with presence in the stores, but even so I am surprised at the diversity of actual smells present here. Lola and Daisy sharing space with Sensuous and Angel and Tresor–that seems like a real story to me, one that the marketers would do well to pay attention to, though perhaps they would just explain it all away with demographics and positioning and money spent on ads… April 15, 2011 at 5:27pm Reply

  • behemot: Cacharel used to be sold at Sephora . Not anymore. Guerlain (very limited selection) is available at only ONE Nordstrom store in entire Seattle metro area. But if you go across the border to Canada , there is a full range of Guerlain skincare and fragrances, including the classic ones. It has been carried by larger dept stores and many smaller boutiques in Vancouver. Each time I go there, must stop by one of the G counters.. April 15, 2011 at 5:38pm Reply

  • Marion: Hmmm – one way of looking at this from my point of view ‘explains’ why my relationship with perfume became more and more ‘strained and disappointed’ over the years…the fruitless tryings and ho-hummings, and the feeling that Angel (the only one of those in my collecton) had said it all in one big bang twenty years ago…
    Glad to see No 5 in there, but she was a casualty from my Mitsouko epoch!
    Anyway, I’m making up for lost time in the niche end of things…and of course I never came across Lutens in Australia.
    Like the others, am very keen to see the Europe list! April 15, 2011 at 6:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: OK, since there is so much interest in the European version, I will post it next and save the masculine top sellers for the week after. April 15, 2011 at 7:17pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, sweet, sweet, sweet, and more sweet! No 5 and Pleasures are perhaps the least sweet fragrances on the list. Also, most of these are either fruity florals or floral orientals with a strong citrus-fruity note. April 15, 2011 at 7:18pm Reply

  • Victoria: There are more fine tuned studies on what fragrances are preferred and for what reason. I have been reading the reports that show the celebrity endorsements are starting to decline as a motive for buying, while the juice itself is increasing as an incentive. Yet, for most women, the brand is the driving factor. Then, within the brand, you will notice some interesting variations. April 15, 2011 at 7:20pm Reply

  • Victoria: It is also interesting to compare top sellers from one year to the next. For instance, in 2009, Ed Hardy Women made it as #6, in 2010, it was not even in the top 30. Last year, also Aromatics Elixir by Clinique and Dolce & Gabbana The One were among the top 20. Other than this, the list pretty much remains similar.

    I keep revisiting some fragrances to figure out their appeal, and I fail. I will never get why Chance is such a success, since it seems so dull to me. April 15, 2011 at 7:24pm Reply

  • Hannah: I thought Daisy would be in the top 10.
    I had a sample of Coco Mademoiselle, and I really don’t like wearing it.
    I’ve been meaning to revisit Euphoria.
    My favorite hyper-mainstream scent is Gaultier MaDame, which isn’t on this list. April 15, 2011 at 8:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: I really like MaDame, which is a really well-made fragrance.
    I used to wear Coco Mademoiselle, but whenever I revisit it these days, I find that it is much sharper and thinner than I remember it to be. I admire it, but I am hardly ever tempted to wear it (except for the parfum version, which I still love.) April 15, 2011 at 9:24pm Reply

  • Mimi: I think this list is comparable to the various book bestseller lists (and equally disappointing). It doesn’t say anything more than this is what American women are buying. Lots and lots of American women aren’t exposed to a variety of fragrances much less the niche fragrances.

    It’s about access. I suspect department stores all across American are just like the ones in the two small towns where I’ve lived recently. There is no selection of fragrances. It’s Estee Lauder and maybe a couple of other brands and that’s it. I now live in Atlanta and the stores in most of the local malls don’t even have that great a selection. You have to work to find the better fragrances. April 15, 2011 at 10:03pm Reply

  • Victoria: You are right, most department stores just have the usual stuff, little variety. Whenever I'm in cities other than NYC, Chicago or LA (which have a great selection of perfumes in various price ranges,) I'm invariably shocked to discover how few options really are available. And whatever is available is sold in a poor way. The fragrance sales associates are so badly trained! April 15, 2011 at 10:07pm Reply

  • Hannah: Speaking of not getting the appeal of popular perfumes, a while ago I was reading a forum that people just post random things on. One user made a post asking about favorite fragrances. He usually makes posts about fashion, like Damir Doma, Gareth Pugh, Olivier Theyskens and Haider Ackermann–designers that I also adore, so I trusted his taste and was interested. He said his favorite for men is CdG Kyoto and his favorite for women is…Daisy. Which he called “the best perfume ever”. I don’t think he was joking.

    One of my friends who usually has taste for the strange and unconventional wears Gucci Flora. April 15, 2011 at 11:07pm Reply

  • linda fey: That would be great Victoria. I am very curious to see the comparison. 🙂 April 16, 2011 at 2:24pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Flower Bomb shoud be de-fused! I was so disappointed the first and last time I sampled it- a nasty, sticky sweet insipid mess! I expected so much more from such an innovative design house (and don’t get me started on Badgely Mishka!)There really weren’t any scents on that list I really like- I am vaguely fond of Tresor, but I don’t swoon over it- and I am already on record as being the only woman alive who hates Chanel Number Five- the ghost of Mademoiselle Coco haunts me for that. Most people don’t like fragrances with definite personalities- having actually worked a perfume counter at a mildly upscale department store, I can’t tell you how many soccer mommy types wander in and ask vaguely for “something that smells like flowers”. Anything with character, originality strength or aesthetic point of view scared the living daylights out of them, but I guess that’s why they drive mini vans.

    The perfumes that are slaying me on the mass market now are Prada’s Infusion d’Iris, Narcisco Rodrieguez for Her, the original Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, all of which you can find at Bloomigdale’s or Sephora. You don’t have to go any place special to find them. April 19, 2011 at 6:57pm Reply

  • Victoria: You know, many people do not care for No 5, you are not alone.
    You're quite right about this–most people do not want a fragrance with an overly strong character, which is why most perfume on the market today are so bland. April 19, 2011 at 7:20pm Reply

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