Perfume Trends: 50 posts

Overview of fragrance trends and popular perfumes

3 Perfume Trends for 2021 and beyond

Today’s topic is trends in fine fragrance, air care (candles, diffusers, room sprays,) and body care. Based on my professional experience and studies of consumer reports, I will share three key trends that define 2021/2022. First of all, a note on how trends are compiled, because it’s an obscure topic to most people outside of the perfume industry–and to many people in the industry as well. No crystal balls are involved; it’s all about numbers.

To put it simply, agencies like NPD and Mintel track sales of different products, and based on the sales volumes and types of products, they make inferences about consumer preferences. Similar, perfume companies research trends and preferences, based on the sales of their products and those of their competitors. Understanding trends is important for brands in today’s crowded market not so much to make the whole world smell of green tea and peaches but to see where the tastes of consumers lie. What are they interested in? What kind of products appeal to them?

The insights I share below are based on my professional experience as a researcher and the information I come across as part of my day-to-day work as an industry analyst. I will explain each trend and give a few examples. You can watch the video or read my report below.

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Popular Brands and Perfumes of 2020

For those who like lists and rankings, I have a little treat today courtesy of the Cosmetify Index, a service that ranks the most searched for and followed beauty brands around the world. The Cosmetify Index was created in 2019 to see how brands engage with social media and also how consumers respond to new launches. The newest index tracked searches and engagement in 2020, assessing the impact of the pandemic on beauty and fragrance sales.

The Cosmetify Index also tracks which brands are popular in which country, so you can glean fascinating information like Russia being a Jo Malone country, while China favors Estée Lauder. Yves Rocher rules in France, Italy, and Spain, while Rituals holds court in Germany, Scandinavian countries, and unexpectedly, Angola and Bhutan. The Indian subcontinent is united in its love for The Body Shop, although Nepal prefers Dove. And so on. Of course, these are the macrotrends and generalizations, but all trend reports are bird’s-eye-view snapshots.

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5 Modern Perfumes with a note of surprise

A good fragrance smells familiar, a great fragrance smells surprising. The whole quest of modern perfumery can be summed by this sentence. We’re instantly attracted to the scents that remind us of something — a pleasant memory or another pleasant perfume, which is why well-liked, best-selling fragrances are often reminiscent of other perfumes on the market. A composition that rises above a merely easy-to-like, however, has an unexpected element. This surprising touch makes the scent linger in the memory and intrigue us. Finding the right combination of familiar and surprising is part of perfumer’s aim.

The five fragrances below represent different genres and styles, but the one element they have in common is surprise. I’ve selected examples that surprise rather than jolt to show subtle accents at play. These perfumes reinterpret classic themes, challenge conventions, and most importantly, smell wonderful.

Galop d’Hermès

At the top of my list is Galop d’Hermès, a fragrance that appears at first as a pastel toned, chic rose but has a dark, smoldering heart. To wear Galop is to be enveloped in soft layers of leather, woods and musk. The new Hermès in-house perfumer Christine Nagel also added an accord of incense inflected rose and juicy quince, an additional surprise.

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Three Crisp and Bright Incense Perfumes

Frankincense, the subject of my recent article and video, is on my mind again. Today I would like to reply to a request for fresh and bright incense fragrances that can be worn during warm weather.

Frankincense is a chameleon of a note, and it can evoke different impressions depending on what other ingredients are used in a composition. In general, if you’re looking for a fresh incense blend, consider fragrances with green, leafy and citrus notes. If you’re after a dark, smoky incense, search for notes like benzoin, tonka bean, Peru balsam, amber and guaiacwood.

Fragrances mentioned in the video:

Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur

Comme des Garçons Zagorsk

Hermès Un Jardin sur le Nil

More on the subject of incense: why the supplies of frankincense are fragile and which brands source sustainably.

What unconventional fragrances do you prefer during summer? What are your favorite incense perfumes?

Is It Time to Rename the Oriental Fragrance Family?

My original article on this topic was published in FT’s magazine, March 2016 issue, but the topic is as relevant as ever so I decided to continue the discussion here.

The world of perfume press releases is one in which Edward Said never wrote “Orientalism”.  Odalisques lounge in the incense-scented harems of marketers’ imaginations. The Mughals are still ruling India, and the Arabian Desert is a vast expanse of golden sands populated with handsome explorers—not an oil well in sight. There is even a fragrance family called “oriental.”

The term is misleading and vague. The Middle East and North Africa have old and sophisticated fragrance traditions, but the average oriental one might come across at Harrods has little to do with their classical forms. This family of French perfumery grew in tandem with other 19th-century developments in society, economy and art. As Ingres painted his erotic ideals in a harem setting, perfumers used heavy, rich notes like balsams, vanilla and musk to fashion their fantasies of the east. The fascination lingered well into the 20th century. Guerlain Shalimar was created in 1925, but it reprised all the hallmarks of the genre—opulence, warmth and an exotic backstory.

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