With the onslaught of new launches, you might wonder ends up a success and what vanishes into the perfume twilight zone populated by the 77th flanker on Very Irrésistible and minor celebrity fragrances. Every year the industry decries the fast pace of launches, and every year it goes on to produce even more. One favorite explanation is that we, the consumers, are demanding more and new things, but to me, to put it mildly, this is sheer nonsense. Blaming the consumer when the realities of making a profit in the fragrance market today have changed doesn’t make sense.
In the past, fragrance houses devoted years to developing new fragrances, because having a potential classic guaranteed consumer loyalty and established a brand’s reputation. The launches were gradual, usually starting in France or the US and slowly moving across the world. There was no expectation that a fragrance needs to be an immediate blockbuster, knocking it out of the park within the first quarter.
Today, the launches are global, meaning that a new perfume is designed to please consumers the world over, from San Francisco to Seoul. Despite whatever they say about globalization, fragrance tastes still have regional quirks, but in the process of appealing to the common denominator, the new launches become bland and stripped of any personality. If the perfume doesn’t sell well immediately or if its sales start to decline, it receives a boost with a flanker or gets axed. It’s cheaper to add a new product than to invest resources into supporting existing ones. The cycle gets repeated and repeated, and voila, that’s how we end up with over 1000 new perfumes each year.
Top Selling Feminine New Launches
1. Givenchy Ange ou Démon le Secret Élixir
Givenchy must break a record for the number of flankers it launches.
2. Paco Rabanne Black Excess L’Excès pour Elle
3. Cacharel Catch Me
A well-crafted, quality fragrance from Chanel. I only wish that they pushed the envelope a bit more, but clearly they went for mass appeal with Coco Noir.
This is one of the few flankers worth noting, a modern rose chypre with an earthy touch.
6. Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire (relaunch)
It’s hard to walk one block in Paris (or London, Amsterdam, or Tokyo, for that matter!) without bumping into a La Petite Robe Noire ad.
7. Dior Addict L’Eau Fraîche
For a brand that put a beaming Julia Roberts in its marketing campaign, this is a surprisingly humorless perfume.
9. Nina Ricci Mademoiselle Ricci
More candy flavors masquerading as perfume.
11. Dior Miss Dior Le Parfum
12. Yves Saint Laurent Opium Vapeurs de Parfum
Its relationship to Opium is tenuous at best.
13. Escada Sexy Graffiti
Fruity and bubbly.
14. Givenchy Very Irrésistible Electric Rose
Ah, I’ve spoken too soon. The 77th flanker to Very Irrésistible is in fact on the best seller list!
Manifesto is nicely done, but it feels market tested to near death.
I don’t have much to say about the successful men’s new launches, because with one or two exceptions, they are all flankers that I can’t even recall. I can’t figure out why this list is so bland–were there too few interesting masculine launches, or are French men becoming less adventurous with their perfume purchases?
Top Selling Masculine New Launches
1. Paco Rabanne Black XS L’Excès
I liked the original Black XS, but the new flanker is hardly daring, the ad (pictured above) notwithstanding.
2. Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio Essenza Homme
3. Chanel Allure Homme Sport Eau Extrême
4. Giorgio Armani Armani Code Ultimate
5. Azzaro pour Homme L’Eau
6. Hugo Boss Bottled Sport
7. Hugo Boss Boss Orange Man
Hugo Boss fragrances are the opposite of avant-garde, but they stay on concept—polished and straightforward.
8. Lacoste Eau Lacoste Rouge
9. Dior Eau Sauvage Parfum
Nice enough, but doesn’t improve on the original Eau Sauvage.
10. Gucci Guilty Homme
11. Guess Seductive Homme
12. Kenzo Homme Sport
13. Diesel Only the Brave Tattoo
One of my favorite launches last year, masculine or feminine. A vibrant mélange of woods dusted with spices, it smells both elegant and cozy.
15. Dolce & Gabbana The One Sport
1st image: Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire, the making of the ad. 2nd image: Paco Rabanne Black XS ad.