Top Selling Perfumes USA : Snapshot 2013

As I recently sat through a fragrance forecasting presentation, I was busy jotting down notes to share with you. Who would have guessed that American men are getting more and more into perfume? Sales of men’s fragrance have increased by 6 percent in the first quarter of 2013 as compared to last year. Of course, it might also mean that more women are buying perfume for their friends and family. But on the other hand, 40% of males between the ages of 18-65 don’t use any fragrance at all (a higher fraction than in Europe).

perfume-store-diptyque

Top Selling Perfumes USA : Popular Fragrances Spring 2012

Top Selling Feminine Fragrances 2011 USA

Top Selling Feminine Fragrances for 2010 USA

Top Selling Feminine Fragrances for 2010 France

Top Selling Masculine Fragrances 2010 USA

When it comes to women’s shopping habits, the NDP Group reports that US perfume wearers are enamored with cologne. Sales of women’s colognes, particularly from niche brands, have increased by 4% in the first three months of 2013. Sales in the florals and floral orientals families were fairly flat, while marine and oriental genres appear more popular.

Perfume prices have been rising, but it doesn’t seem to put off the consumers. Women’s scents priced $100 and up saw a 40% increase in sales in the first quarter. Sales of new launches saw a 27% nosedive when compared to last year, the lowest since 2009. Perfume brands, please get the message–enough with the fast pace of launches!

So, here are the Top 3 Best Selling Women’s Fragrances in the US (Q1 2013):

1. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle (2001)
2. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue (2001)
3. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb (2004)

On a more long term note, the forecasting company Ungerer predicts that tea notes will influence fragrance in 2014. According to its recent report, “We have identified that fragrance will move towards more sophisticated gourmand scents which blend delicate fruits and flowers over the next 12 months.” Does anybody want to take bets? They also noted that oud will continue to play an important role, but one doesn’t need a crystal ball to figure that out.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin (not a best seller, but I don’t want to use a Coco Mademoiselle again; it has already been in heavy rotation).

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68 Comments

  • Belle: Gourmands aren’t really new, but I hope they’ll be mature ones. I wonder what Amer, a resident natural perfume forecaster would say! (: August 1, 2013 at 7:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Amer was recently asking me in the comments about the trend reports and forecasting, so I thought that I would give a little taste of it. :) August 1, 2013 at 8:38am Reply

  • theperfumeddandy: Dear Bois
    So the vogue on line and in print for colognes has been borne out in sales that is interesting.
    I wonder if this is a long term shift in the market or evidence of the increased power of online comment, where there has been so much talk of this concentration of late?
    A little taken back by Light Blue, I had, in my naivety, no idea it was quite so popular.
    It’s always seemed to me to be bordering on the functional as a scent.
    I don’t that rudely, but it comes across almost as a refined room fragrance to my nose.
    Whatever the reason for more men’s fragrance being sold, hurrah to betting smelling gents say I!
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy August 1, 2013 at 7:59am Reply

    • theperfumeddandy: Ooops… ‘better smelling gents’!! August 1, 2013 at 7:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I was curious to learn about the popularity of colognes too. I suppose that after the indulgence in rich gourmands and floral orientals, there always comes a point when you crave something lighter.

      Light Blue is one of my favorites, to be honest. I love how fresh and crisp it feels, and the contrast between the apple and amber is interesting. But I’m not surprised if others dislike it, since it has been so popular and was copied endlessly. August 1, 2013 at 8:54am Reply

  • fleurdelys: I wonder if the increase in sales of men’s fragrances has anything to do with the number of guys now reviewing them on YouTube? Maybe that has encouraged men who were on the fence about wearing fragrance to take the plunge and try it out. August 1, 2013 at 8:59am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s an interesting theory! I wonder. I just posted on BdJ Facebook page about The Motley, a website dedicated to men’s grooming. There is a great quote in the article that men’s sophistication when it comes to grooming and skincare products has outpaced the retail offerings. Plus, there are now many more brands offering products specifically for men. August 1, 2013 at 9:11am Reply

  • Absolute Scentualist: Atelier, while the fragrance concentrations wear more like an edp, can be happily blamed for my love of cologne type fragrances lately. Along with some of my favorite stand-bys like Eau Sauvage and Eau d’Hadrien, I am loving everything from the line I’ve tried so far, which is about 90% of their releases and I can’t wait to try the rest. I bought their Voyage collection of 7 7ml travel bottles and love it, and recently bought and love a decant of Mistral Patchouli as well. It is the perfect summer patch to not overwhelm my friends, who don’t exactly appreciate the note as much as I do. ;)

    The top three list did surprise me a bit since there doesn’t seem to be anything especially recent on it, but those are some extremely popular choices. Personally, I prefer Lancôme La Vie Est Belle over Flowerbomb, but they are similar enough that I don’t mind the latter since I’ve had the good fortune not to be assaulted by it very often on strangers when out and about. Hopefully some more interesting gourmands will come our way and less and less will contain oud.

    As for tea trends, Bvlgari still pretty much has my tea needs covered, though EW Sweet Tea is just perfect for the upcoming dog days of summer. August 1, 2013 at 9:19am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m a bit overwhelmed by the speed of Atelier Cologne’s releases, but Mistral Patchouli was a winner for me too. I had no expectations for it, since I thought that patchouli has already been interpreted in so many ways. And yet, I loved its fresh and effervescent character (and that delicious salty note). Easy to wear, but it’s distinctive and very different from other patchouli themed scents I know.

      I published excerpts from another study, in France this time, and the results are very similar–women are tired of identical new launches and they prefer buying from the established brands. It looks like very few new launches even end up in the top 10 lists.
      http://boisdejasmin.com/2013/07/french-woman-and-her-perfume-research-study.html August 1, 2013 at 9:25am Reply

  • Aisha: I wore Coco Mademoiselle when it first came out but then stopped a year later when it started giving me a massive headache. I thought it was the patchouli so I stayed away from any fragrance that contained that (which, by the way, is hard to do because it’s everywhere). I just recently bought a sample of Coromandel (just out of curiosity), and to my surprise, no headache. Not so far, anyway. August 1, 2013 at 9:24am Reply

    • Victoria: Coco Mademoiselle is such a big presence, big character perfume, and it’s sweet. The combination of its volume and sweetness might have been the culprit, rather than patchouli. And you’re absolutely right, patchouli is everywhere, since it’s one of the best drydown notes. August 1, 2013 at 9:28am Reply

    • Aisha: Oh! I adore Atelier Cologne’s collection (Orange Sanguine is my current favorite), and I’m also a big fan of Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria fragrances (Mandarine-Basilic). I guess I like smelling like citrus and basil during the summer. :-) August 1, 2013 at 9:31am Reply

      • Victoria: I do too! I also make basil lemonade when it gets very hot. It feels so refreshing. August 1, 2013 at 9:36am Reply

        • zephyr: Me too! Mandarine-Basilic and Herba Fresca – lovelovelove in summer! Both sitting on my dresser right now.

          Victoria, basil in lemonade sounds really intriguing; I’ll have to try it! August 1, 2013 at 12:00pm Reply

          • Victoria: Just crushing a few leaves is enough to give that sweet-spicy zing. Or I make this:
            http://boisdejasmin.com/2010/08/opal-basil-lemonade-flavor-and-fragrance.html

            The blue tinted opal basil gives an impressive color, but any other basil works. I have a carafe of it in my fridge right now. August 1, 2013 at 12:34pm Reply

            • Aisha: Oh my goodness! YUM! August 1, 2013 at 12:51pm Reply

              • Victoria: My aunt makes these drinks really well, and I’ve been slowly learning too. There is another way to make sherbet: make heavy sugar syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water) and then steep basil in it. In Azerbaijan many households keep several of these syrups to dilute in iced water–rose, saffron, quince, sour orange, etc. August 1, 2013 at 12:57pm Reply

                • Aisha: It all sounds so deliciously beautiful. August 1, 2013 at 9:12pm Reply

          • leathermountain: One nice way to do that would be with flavored simple syrup. Dissolve sugar in water (equal volumes works fine) — you have to heat the water. At some point add coarsely chopped basil leaves (thai basil and its variants are super), and let it steep like tea. I think the flavor might vary slightly depending on how hot the syrup is when you add the basil, and on how long you leave the basil in the syrup. Eventually, strain out the leaves, and store the flavored (and colored) syrup in the fridge. You could use it to sweet/flavor your lemonade! Or make panna cotta. Or to flavor seltzer water. Or anything! August 1, 2013 at 1:08pm Reply

            • Aisha: Thanks! August 1, 2013 at 9:12pm Reply

    • ralu: I too wore Coco Mademoiselle a few years ago but I stopped wearing it and now “graduated” to Coromandel which I absolutely adore. I, too, thought that patchouli is not my thing. Coromandel changed my mind. Interesting to hear a similar experience. :) August 1, 2013 at 4:31pm Reply

      • Aisha: Oh, it’s so good to know that I’m not the only one. LOL! Yes, that Coromandel has changed my mind. I’m glad it did or I’d still be missing out on a lot of fragrances. August 1, 2013 at 9:15pm Reply

      • Theresa: I have nearly exhausted my samples of Coromandel, I love it so much! I am eagerly awaiting my next trip to Seattle (probably in 4 or 5 months) when I plan to buy a FB at Nordstrom’s Chanel boutique. I know I could buy it online, but I am trying to exercise restraint! August 12, 2013 at 3:47pm Reply

    • Karina: That is very interesting to me Aisha, I was just saying recently how I have been a long-term wearer of Coco M and just in the past year I find myself unable to wear it because it now triggers an awful headache for me too.

      It also smells more potent to me now than it used to which makes me wonder if I have somehow become sensitised to it.

      I am not too devastated at no longer being able to wear it though as I feel I have outgrown it a bit. I’m enjoying exploring new scents, but I do love patchouli! August 1, 2013 at 11:28pm Reply

  • george: As you wrote on July 11th, in your Pleats Please review-

    “Most perfumery output today can be divided roughly into the children of Angel and the children of Light Blue: Angel, as in Thierry Mugler and Light Blue, as in Dolce & Gabbana.”

    Seems like your finger was very much on the pulse in identifying the market leaders there……. (esp as Flowerbomb is such an obvious version of Angel)

    As for Ungerer’s prediction- I have my own- next year’s perfumes will be mainly designed for a particular brand’s type of woman who is strong (or a synonym for strong), feminine, and sensual (or a synonym for sensual)

    Ta-dah! Can I have some money now? August 1, 2013 at 9:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Hysterical! Can you please do the masculine trends too? :)

      The Angel and Light Blue families continue to prosper… August 1, 2013 at 9:57am Reply

      • george: Of course! Next year’s aftershaves will be designed for a particular brand’s own very particular type of male customer, who is an individual, doesn’t feel the need to go with the crowd, breaks all the rules, celebrates the freedom that comes with being a man, is unexpected and spontaneous, and who wants to wear an aftershave that smells like it was made by Hugo Boss.

        Don’t clap; throw money! August 1, 2013 at 10:12am Reply

        • Victoria: I made a mistake of taking a sip of tea while reading your comment. Nearly chocked! The funniest thing is that I’ve seen briefs written more or less like this. Another favorite line is “spontaneous,” as in “a perfect perfume for a man who is spontaneous and fearless.”

          Thank you for a laugh! August 1, 2013 at 10:17am Reply

        • Victoria: Ok, I decided not to be lazy and check some press releases, and lo and behold:
          “Calvin Klein Obsession for Men is perfect for the confident man…”
          “Calvin Klein Euphoria is a fresh and pure perfume for the modern and confident men.”
          “Cool, confident, and contemporary, Boss Hugo Boss embodies the 21st century man who embraces life with the utmost vigor.”

          and Dolce & Gabbana decided just to hit all keywords and be done with it:
          “We dedicate The One for Men to the Dolce&Gabbana man: modern, sensual, cosmopolitan, attentive to caring for himself and his body. A man blessed with inborn charisma, self-confidence, and no fear in expressing his personality through the perfume he wears.” August 1, 2013 at 10:22am Reply

          • george: And don’t forget! (because this was the one I was really parodying):

            “A sudden turnaround.
            A spectacular scenario.
            Two forces: Man and his Freedom.
            Radical.
            It urges him to take risks.
            To defy authority.
            He takes action.
            He embodies that greatness of a man when he chooses to be free.
            That enigmatically seductive, bold masculinity.
            That untameable, rebellious spirit.
            A man who is resolutely unexpected. In his actions. In his life.
            A man who acknowledges only one constraint: the need to be free.” August 1, 2013 at 10:35am Reply

            • theperfumeddandy: Pleeeeease… what could this possibly be? August 1, 2013 at 10:43am Reply

              • Eric: Chanel Bleu, acc to Google. August 1, 2013 at 11:09am Reply

            • maja: Chubby, bearded, intellectual couch potatoes are sooo not in, I guess. :)

              Anyway, what does “fearless” mean in a Western world of men living mostly in cities/suburbs driving to and from office? It seems that these briefs contain even more stereotypes than those meant for women. If possible. August 1, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

              • Victoria: This is the second time this thread makes me laugh out loud. :) August 1, 2013 at 12:43pm Reply

          • Eric: “no fear in expressing his personality through the perfume he wears.”

            not hard since D&G perfumes have no personality to speak of. August 1, 2013 at 11:00am Reply

            • Victoria: I didn’t mind The One for Men, but I agree that it’s not the most dramatic of perfumes. It’s nicely done though. August 1, 2013 at 12:42pm Reply

              • Karina: Yes my husband was given D&G The One as a gift and I agree it is well done. The aftershave is particularly nice. August 1, 2013 at 11:37pm Reply

                • Victoria: I had a sample of shower lotion and it was very good. Whenever my husband used it, I could smell it in the hallway! August 2, 2013 at 7:19am Reply

        • Undina: Thank you for the laugh, george! August 10, 2013 at 12:43am Reply

    • Hannah: Maybe that’s true in the prestige sector, but Jean-Claude Ellena, Bertrand Duchaufour, Antoine Maisondieu, Olivia Giacobetti, Christopher Sheldrake and Antoine Lie have been pretty busy and they aren’t really recreating those two categories, are they? August 1, 2013 at 12:19pm Reply

      • Victoria: Yes, you’re right, it holds mostly for the prestige sector. But since we’re talking about volume, the niche sector is still so very tiny. And the traces of Angel can even be found in Christopher Sheldrake’s Chanel Coromandel and Bertrand Duchafour’s Bombay Bling. There is nothing wrong with being inspired by a dominant trend and as these perfumes prove, it can be done cleverly and creatively, August 1, 2013 at 12:37pm Reply

    • leathermountain: It’s awkward when sales associates have been trained to tell me that I meet all these criteria. I usually say “thank you,” and try to get away. August 1, 2013 at 1:12pm Reply

  • mito: Thank you for the recap! I’m interested to know what they mean by niche. Does Tom Ford fall into that category? August 1, 2013 at 11:57am Reply

    • Victoria: They usually mean the number of stores where perfume is sold, and niche refers to the limited distribution. I don’t remember the number of “doors” (as the distribution points are called in industry jargon) off the top of my head, but if you’re interested, I can try to find out. August 1, 2013 at 12:38pm Reply

  • Hannah: “Women’s scents priced $100 and up saw a 40% increase in sales in the first quarter.”
    That’s not a surprise, but I’m avoiding perfumes that cost more than $100, and my absolute budget is $150. I get the “$150 is the new free” joke but it’s not as if $150 is close to being the minimum.
    Almost everything from CdG, Diptyque, Etat Libre D’Orange, Parfum D’Empire, Parfumerie Generale, Les Nereides, Eau D’Italie, Serge Lutens, and Annick Goutal is under $150 and some of those brands are even under $100/50ml.
    And then outside of niche, Bulgari Black, Black Orchid, Tocca, Acqui di Parma, Bottega Veneta, YSL Opium and Paris, and others can all be found for under $100. August 1, 2013 at 12:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m with you. I still have difficulty crossing the $100-150 limit. “$150 is the new free” doesn’t even seem at all funny. But even less amusing is the trend in the niche lines to price themselves into the luxury category by increasing the price rather than the quality of the juice. August 1, 2013 at 12:41pm Reply

      • leathermountain: Hear, hear! August 1, 2013 at 1:13pm Reply

  • Ines: In my frugal attempt not to overspend, I have become drugstore co-dependent – revisiting old favorites like Wild Musk & Emeraude by Coty and Royal Violets by Agustin Reyes.

    Now that you mentioned tea scents, I also just dug up Green Tea with Jasmine Eau De Toilette by L’Occitane and Tea Rose by The Perfumer’s Workshop Ltd with top notes of rose and tea leaves both not too spendy.

    Lastly the return of Roger and Gallet Jean Marie Farina that’s an evocative fruit-themed fragrance. August 1, 2013 at 1:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Me too! L’Occitane Green Tea, 4711 and Elizabeth Arden Green Tea are three perfumes I keep in the fridge these days. I already used up Roger and Gallet in my bath, so I might have to replace it. On the weekend, when I’m not working (not smelling or testing fragrances), I splash myself with abandon. And it feels so good to have them ice cold on skin. (And since someone already asked me this in an email, it’s perfectly fine to store perfume in the fridge. Not near the freezer compartment though.) August 1, 2013 at 2:50pm Reply

    • Andy: I love L’Occitane’s Green Tea with Jasmine too! I didn’t know anyone else even wore it (well, I guess I knew some people must wear it, but it isn’t mentioned as often as it should). All I have is the solid, but it is my less expensive substitute for a summer tea-floral like Thé Pour Un Été. August 1, 2013 at 5:27pm Reply

    • Annikky: L’Occitane was one of only three full bottles that I took with me when moving a few weeks ago. So glad I did, as it’s much hotter in Brussels than I expected. And I’ve said it once before, but it might be useful to repeat – it looks like both Green Tea and Green Tea & Jasmine are going to be discontinued :( August 1, 2013 at 6:16pm Reply

      • Andy: Thanks for the reminder, I had no idea! August 1, 2013 at 9:11pm Reply

      • Victoria: Green Tea is L’Occitane classic! Why on earth would they discontinue it, I wonder? August 2, 2013 at 7:18am Reply

        • Annikky: My theory is that they don’t want other green tea scents to cannibalise their new (and more expensive) The Vert & Bigarade from the Grasse collection, but it’s just speculation. And there is a chance, of course, that the SA I spoke to was ill informed. But she advised me to stock up and seeing how both older green tea fragrances are often on sale these days, I would advise serious fans to get back up bottles. August 2, 2013 at 10:36am Reply

          • Victoria: Hmm, I didn’t think of that, but I bet that you’re right. Oh, I so dislike when brands take their inexpensive and perfectly nice collections and then put them in fancy bottles and stick luxury price tags on them. This happened to Chantecaille too. August 2, 2013 at 11:44am Reply

          • Ines: I thought so! Well my frugality is going to pay off and I’m stocking up;) August 2, 2013 at 12:28pm Reply

  • Abby: I just wanted to express my appreciation: I love this blog both for the posts and the comments! August 1, 2013 at 2:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Abby! :)
      Today was such an exhausting, hectic day, but just reading through this thread made me smile. August 1, 2013 at 3:03pm Reply

      • Maria: I love reading the comments left by others. I was also blown away by how generous people were whenever I asked questions or recommendations. Thank you and everyone else who make this blog such an inviting and friendly place. August 1, 2013 at 4:58pm Reply

        • Victoria: Perfume lovers tend to be very generous! I’m also finding the same thing all the time. Glad that you’re enjoying it here! :) August 2, 2013 at 7:12am Reply

  • Maria: I wore Coco Mademoiselle for several years and then switched to Flowerbomb. Though they’re popular I don’t smell them on anymore around me. I don’t know Light Blue, maybe I should try it too. August 1, 2013 at 4:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: Light Blue is very different from those two, but definitely try it. It’s one of my summer favorites. August 2, 2013 at 7:11am Reply

  • Annikky: Trends tend to get bad press, but I find them fascinating: especially their origin and dissemination. There are trends in everything and while following them blindly tends to be ridiculous, they do bring new ideas and fresh outlooks to the mainstream. Probably because I actually am interested in this subject, I get quite annoyed when presented with “florals for spring” type of predictions. But I’ve encountered some insightful reports on flavour and colour trends, so I know it can be done well.

    Regarding the top 3 – no surprises, but I choose to see this as a positive thing. Clearly, new launches are failing to make an impact. That kind of consumer feedback is ultimately the only thing that could make companies to change their strategies. (This sounded a bit like “florals for spring”, so apologies :)) August 1, 2013 at 5:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: I completely agree with you! These fragrances have already been time tested, so to speak, and the fact that women select them over the one day (or season) wonders points to their staying power.

      The best of fashion forecasting is impressive, and the reports they produce are very detailed and interesting. Not just “florals for spring” sort of thing, but corroborated and explained analyses. August 2, 2013 at 7:16am Reply

  • Courant: I have a back up bottle of Ambre Dore but I confess I am terribly conflicted over Oud.
    MPG’s perfumer sees no future for it within MPG but recognises the fad for it. The East/West, incense v clean, is a complex puzzle. Perfumers are sitting on the fence and trying to incorporate both. Elie Saab is an example. Bringing on back the good times, let’s see. Personally, my respect only extends to Coco M, (of the three)even though I have never worn it. August 2, 2013 at 5:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I wish that niche houses wouldn’t just on these fads just like the rest of the lot. Being niche you have the luxury of doing something different, so why follow the pack? But Ambre Dore is very good. August 2, 2013 at 7:20am Reply

  • Dovey: Hi Victoria, It’s fun to see Coco Mademoiselle at the top; even I had a brief CM moment this year! At this point, I feel a bit lukewarm towards the gourmand forecast. I rarely wear foodies smells, however I suppose I could find myself pleasantly surprised with what new scents in the new year will bring! August 4, 2013 at 10:55am Reply

    • Victoria: If I had to pick between Coco Mademoiselle and Coco Noir, I would still go for Coco Mademoiselle. It’s more distinctive and more vivid. But I don’t mind Coco Noir either, and I wonder what Coco Mademoiselle fans thought of it. August 4, 2013 at 3:48pm Reply

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