FRAGRANCE PACKAGING THAT WOWS



In today's economy, classic scents hold strong appeal, and would-be fragrance consumers have to be wowed into trying something new. Following is a look at some of this fall’s launches and the key role packaging plays in adding desire back into the purchasing equation.



By Jamie Matusow, Editor


Dressed to make a killing: Coty’s counting on its highly successful Harajuku Lovers—now donning winter attire— to continue to captivate fragrance consumers as well as collectors.




















Recently I was browsing a website for a new luxury body care range, and saw a term that’s popping up with frequency in the beauty industry. One of the prominent tabs along the top of the page was Must-Haves. Why were these particular products singled out as such? To my surprise, it wasn’t the beautiful packaging or the botanical ingredients—the brand was just using the power of suggestion to sway potential consumers with the message: If you need help choosing products, these are our current bestsellers. It would be interesting to learn the effectiveness of this if-everyone-elsewants- it-I-must-too strategy.

Talk of must-haves has also become widespread in the ailing fragrance industry of late. Not so much as in the questionable keeping-upwith- the-Jones’ mentality as mentioned above, but as a design methodology to incite budgetconscious consumers at all levels to reach into their pocketbooks more often.

According to market research firm Mintel, the U.S. market for both men’s and women’s fragrances totaled $3.3 billion in estimated sales for 2008, which represents a significant slowdown compared to the gains between 2003 and 2006. In an April 2009 beauty and personal care market re-forecast brought about by the economic situation, Mintel reported that the overall fragrance market is expected to decrease 10% in current prices from 2008-2013 (in September 2008, Mintel still predicted a 14% rise over the same period). The global agency notes that women’s fragrances are expected to withstand the economy slightly better than men’s, though both will suffer further before recovering. While the overall fragrance market spirals

While the overall fragrance market spirals down, a study by Port Washington, NY-based The NPD Group shows that prestige seems to be faring better than mass. In a report issued in July, NPD says that while overall sales of prestige fragrances sold in U.S. department stores have declined, premium price fragrance sales have risen significantly. What’s more, those priced at $100 and above represented approximately 9% of total fragrance sales in the first quarter of 2009, and generated $26 million, a 10% increase from the first quarter of 2008.

Classics Remain Strong Nica Lewis, trends analyst for Mintel, and a member of Beauty Packaging’s board of advisors,


Creed gifted First Lady Michelle Obama with a bottle of its new fragrance Acqua Fiorentina, following a disclosure that one of her favorite fragrances is Creed’s Love in White. The first ruling member to be presented with a Creed fragrance: King George III, who was Creed’s first fragrance client in 1781.
notes the increased activity at the high end of the market and the movement in fine fragrance, with trends in current launches continuing to focus on the roots/essence of fine fragrance, luxe bottles and the art of the perfumer. She says some consumers are choosing to stay in touch with a brand’s heritage, such as with Chanel, or returning to the basics, to artisanal, handmade packaging, such as that featured in the John Varvatos rattan bottle. “We’re coming back to classics and, in packaging, to that which has more of a quality,” says Lewis. One classic, artisanal fragrance house banking on the continued strength of the prestige market is Creed. The 249-year-old French company passed from father to son for seven generations makes its own bottles, partnering with the Pochet glass works. Fragrances are handmade by sixth-generation master perfumer Olivier Creed, his son Erwin and a team of 35; a privately owned quarry provides the sand used by Pochet to create the bottles. Creed also makes its own caps, finished by hand by employees who insert the Creed gold seal into the tops of each cap.

This fall, Creed introduces Acqua Fiorentina for women ($130-$350), the 47th Creed fragrance to be available in the U.S. A handmade scent uses flowers and fruits from the orchards and gardens around Florence; the bottle’s accents, with silver flowers etched on its sides, evoke a Renaissance style. The pink juice is intended not only as a visual reminder of gently stained glass or sun on the Arno River at dawn, but is also pink for health. A portion of proceeds from U.S. sales of the fragrance during October will support the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund.

Guerlain, too, draws on its history and artisanship with an arsenal of releases this fall, including Idylle, a new floral fragrance packaged in a goldtone “raindrop” and slated for a younger audience. At the same time, the brand returns to its classic roots with Les Secrets de Sophie ($420), an eau de parfum specially composed by Jean-Paul Guerlain. A trio of bottles created by French jewelry designer Sophie Levy adds to the intrigue of the seductive story created by the packaging. Three colors represent three moments in a day: Les Secrets Noirs de Sophie, all dressed in black; Les Secrets Poudrés de Sophie, trimmed in delicate pink; and Les Secrets Nacrés de Sophie, adorned with luminous white. for instance features a classic black atomizer and, on a gold chain around the neck of the bottle, a black plastic bow charm from which dangles a tiny gold padlock and key. A second charm is engraved with the iconic Guerlain signature. The bottle resembles a cut gemstone.


Les Secrets Nacrés is one of a trio in a series of jewel-inspired launches from Guerlain this fall.
Taking the Challenge
Still, while prestige offers some positive indicators, and a multitude of new launches premier, both in prestige and mass—some with first year sales projections reaching into the tens of millions of dollars and upward—the economic downturn has shaken the fragrance industry and sounded a long-needed wakeup call according to a number of insiders. Internationally acclaimed packaging designer Marc Rosen, president of Marc Rosen Associates, NY, NY, says, “The fragrance industry is suffering terribly, partially because we’ve created a situation with flankers. “When we’ve done six flankers for a celebrity— we’ve cannibalized the design—and we’ve lost. We’ve lost brand loyalty, we’ve killed innovation in bottle design. We have generated fabulous innovation in decorating techniques—but not in bottles that are original.”

Rosen and others point to the fact that the downturn has brought a debilitating change in consumer behavior. “People want to purchase based on desire,” says Rosen. Now, he says, they stop and ask: “Do I really need it?”

Key to recovery, Rosen notes, is creating that desire. “In this economy,” he says, “the onlything people are buying is quality—or more of a classic. If someone likes a fragrance,” he says, “they’re going to repurchase rather than buying something new.

We have to create new designs and new packaging to make them buy,” he says. “Our challenge is how to make them try something new again.”

This, he says, creates a whole other equation for marketer and designer: “How do we get consumers to desire it? We’re stuck between the cost of doing a [new] package and the [temptation] of a flanker package.”

Chad Lavigne, principal of Chad Lavigne, LLC, a branding and design studio in Manhattan, agrees that current market conditions have changed the course of fragrance packaging. “I actually think the economy has forced the beauty companies to re-assess the flow of launches,” he says. “There seems to be a big shift in focusing on solid projects that own a space in the market as opposed to the constant pulsing of flankers and promotions that flooded the marketplace.” This in turn, he notes, is placing more emphasis on innovative design. “The brands that are making an impression,” he says, “are the ones that are breaking so many of the standard rules that have forever been part of the development cycle.

“Concept is everything,” continues Lavigne. “If there’s not a strong concept that has a home in the marketplace, the odds of success are minimal.” Even with a powerhouse brand/designer/ celebrity, he says, there must be a spin to the communication that stands apart from the hundreds of launches.

Fragrance Industry ‘in Distress’ According to The Fragrance Foundation, new launches have been averaging at 800 to 1,000 in the past few years.

Rochelle Bloom, president of The Fragrance Foundation, doesn’t believe that things are changing to meet the market, and doesn’t hesitate to voice her concerns surrounding the state of the fragrance industry in 2009. “I would describe it as in distress,” says Bloom. “Ever since the economy crashed in late 2008, the consumer has opted to be more selective and purchase only what is on sale or to do without.” Fragrance was hit hard, she says, and this has continued through 2009.

Bloom expresses strong disappointment in how the industry is reacting to these conditions. “The sad part,” she says, “is that nothing different has happened in fragrance since all of this has occurred. The manufacturer/retailer is continuing to do business as usual (gift with purchase, purchase with purchase, etc.), as if nothing has changed and their business hasn’t suffered.”

Bloom says, “The consumer has made it very clear; they won’t spend $60-$70 for something they don’t know. Therefore, they want smaller more affordable fragrance sizes, they want samples and they want to be wowed!” She adds that unique or interesting stories about a fragrance are needed to draw them in, and that they want to know about the ingredients and what the inspiration is behind the fragrance.


Lucien Lelong pour Femme celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall as a “cult classic.” An actual working clock is embedded into the crystal flacon, to remind a woman that any time she wears this perfume, something special is bound to happen. Faux tortoiseshell adds another touch of luxury. The original package was designed by Marc Rosen, who used the tagline “the fragrance that makes time stand still.”
What then, should packaging designers/marketers keep in mind when preparing for a new fragrance launch—as a hook for consumers? In addition to more unique and interesting samples, and smaller sizes as entry points, Bloom says the answer lies in unique packaging (sustainable, refillable), collectibles (à la Harajuku Lovers by Coty) and portability. “Most of all,” Bloom stresses, “make the consumer your partner and listen to what she is saying.”

A Risk Pays Off
Harajuku Lovers comes up repeatedly as a highly successful fragrance package that defied convention and turned the industry on its ear with Coty’s (and Gwen Stefani’s) vision of a collectible line of personable and adorable flacons in the shape of must-have “dolls.”

Lavigne comments: “Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers was brilliant; it broke every rule in the book and it is about time.”

The launch was also, independently, in line with Bloom’s recommendations. Not only does the Harajuku packaging wow, it provides consumers with a must-have sampling package of the five fragrances, two sizes (two prices and two lines of collectibles) and—like premium launches Acqua Fiorentina and Les Secrets de Sophie—a great story. This fall, Coty will continue the tale as it takes the girls on an adventure into the volatile flanker market, with the five Harajuku Lovers bulking up their clothing for cooler temperatures. The limited edition dolls retain their original “personalities” and scents, but are now bundled up in winter garb, with the moniker Snow Bunnies. Each 10ml ($30) fragrance doll is presented in a bright white carton with a snowflake motif, featuring its individual Harajuku Lovers logo. Coty executives even hint that additional wardrobe changes could be in order in the future.

From Tokyo’s edgy Harajuku neighborhood to the World Heritage City of Bath, England, comes another intriguing fragrance story, this one told through the new must-have trio of fragrances from Benefit Cosmetics, housed in detailed foldup- and-out cartons that imitate fashionable flats on the city’s famed Royal Crescent. These three alluring eau de toilette fragrances (My Place Or Yours Gina, Laugh With Me Lee Lee, Something About Sofia; $36 each) invite you into each interior, with the notion that you can change your mood and personality as well as your scent, as you enter. It’s easy to conjure up the three women that might inhabit each domain: Lee Lee is playful; Sofia tends to be dreamy; and Gina lives to seduce, tempt and flaunt. Not only is the group masterfully designed and packaged, it’s portable, inexpensive, and collectible, too.


Following his success with Daisy, Marc Jacobs’ fragrance garden blooms again—this time with Lola and its “exploding bouquet” cap.
Designers Cross
the Runway Two years after Marc Jacobs’ success with Daisy, a second captivating flower, Lola, blooms on counters—in another package consumers can’t resist (two sizes, $65-$85). “The Lola bottles show amazing creativity and are highly innovative,” says Lori Singer, group VP global marketing Coty Prestige designer fragrances.

“The combination of colors, textures and materials make Lola a leader in packaging innovation,” she adds. “Lola pushes creativity to the next level, with a complex multilayered colorful cap, oversized bottles and a heavy unique glass weight.” “It also is very unique to have two shapes for different sizes,” says Singer, who credits Jacobs for adding his creative and unexpected touch with two bottle shapes, one more voluptuous and the other more sleek.

Marc Jacobs designed Lola and was involved in every stage of the development process. “Lola is his artistic interpretation of a bouquet exploding from the bottle,” says Singer.

The subtly faceted violet bottle expresses the sensuality of the fragrance. The collar of the “bouquet” is wrapped with luxurious gold “twine” for a finishing touch.

The subtly faceted violet bottle expresses the sensuality of the fragrance. The collar of the “bouquet” is wrapped with luxurious gold “twine” for a finishing touch. The petals of the cap are molded in flexible PVC, a design that proved somewhat difficult to execute. “The greatest challenge was with the complex geometry of the curved petals,” says Bernard Quennessen, vice president, packaging concept development Coty Prestige. Another challenge, says Quennessen, was the assembly of all the various petals and parts. “There are eight pieces in total that comprise the cap, and they all snap together in a nice clean assembly—no glue or adhesives were used. “In addition,” says Quennessen, “not only are the construction, materials and color of this cap spectacular, but its size is exceptional. It was also a challenge for the packaging team to develop a secondary packaging to protect and complement such a cap and bottle.”

Eric Bigotte of Jackel, which manufactured the cap, says, “Jackel developed this cap and full range for the Marc Jacobs line following our experience on the Daisy cap. We made the cap in soft plastic to respond to the requirements of the marketing department. It’s comprised of seven pieces (three for the petals, three for the bottle neck and one for the leaf) put together around a central part fixed on the bottle to create ‘petals.’ This is a patented lock developed by Jackel for this product,” says Bigotte.

Pochet supplied the bottle and Rexam, the pump/actuator.

From Runway to Red Carpet
Michael Kors is another fashion icon heading into the fragrance spotlight this fall amid the bright lights and flashbulbs of the paparazzi, snapping to life in the pretty-in-pink glass flacon housing his new scent Very Hollywood. (Heinz provided the glass.)

Lavigne, who designed the bottle for The Estée Lauder Companies, says Very Hollywood has hit the right mix for today’s market. The package design, he says, “was kicked off after getting an amazing download from Michael and the Lauder team about how they wanted to tap Hollywood in a very glamorous way.”

Lavigne says it was timely, because he had just returned from L.A., and had so much to draw from in that last visit. “My inspiration was from the constant pulse of the flashing bulbs of the paparazzi mixed with Michael Kors’ love of geometry.” He says the glass has such an amazing textural quality that fits beautifully with the brand communication. “The faceted ‘flashes’ are repeated on the front and back of the glass mold giving it a pretty explosive effect—super glam but graphic,” says Lavigne. Each of the 12 divots on the front and back of the bottle is recessed into the glass and faceted like a vintage camera flash reflector. The pulsing facets align through-out all three EDP sizes ($45-$85), creating a wall of glamour when merchandised together.

In addition, Lavigne says the cap and carton are “a great mix of young Hollywood mixing with classic Hollywood; this was key as we progressed through the development. Hollywood has such a wide appeal at every level and we really wanted to tap into that audience. It has been fun watching the reaction from the sidelines— I think all the layers are there for success.”


Estée Lauder aims to make every woman feel like a budding starlet with Michael Kors’ Very Hollywood.
To further impact the launch of the fragrance, Dapy developed and produced a large, detailed factice in acrylic, which it says is much less expensive than glass dummy bottles. A doubleinjection process allows the inside layer, injected in a translucent pink MS material, to simulate the fragrance, while the outside part of the giant 3L bottle is over molded by injection in crystal clear, with the divots made in the outside wall. The ABS cap is injected in shiny gold, and a coral-tinted MS plate with a gold hot stamp logo is glued inside a recess on the top of the cap.

Lewis, from Mintel, says we can expect more fragrances from design houses: In Europe, L’Oréal has signed with Belgian fashion house Martin Margiela for the creation of a line of fragrances; Lolita Lempicka (Pacific Creation/ Amore Pacific) plans to launch a third women’s fragrance, Si Lolita (the bottle is shaped like a heart-shaped, four-leaf clover); Van Cleef & Arpels has plans for five women’s fragrances; and UK lingerie merchant, Agent Provocateur, is set for an additional scent.

Good Fragrances Come in Small Packages
Many of the launches mentioned in this article are being produced in multiple sizes. While this aligns them with Bloom’s recommendations for smaller packages as a way for consumers to sample fragrances—and to lower price points— Lewis of Mintel cites the growing demand for smaller purse-size products due to on-the-go life styles and airline restrictions.

Right on schedule for fall and always appropriate to pop in your carry-on, is Les Garconnes, the delectable new leak-proof “crazy stick” solid fragrance collection ($16 each) from French perfume creator Crazylibellule & the Poppies, created by the co-founder of Sephora, Isabelle Masson Mandonnaud. The fragrances were designed by top French perfume company, Robertet. Each of the seven entries in this romantic, Roaring Twenties-inspired collection, comes with a beautifully written story of 20th century women who, in their own way, fought for women’s freedom. Included are Josephine, Gabrielle, Louise, Tamara, Jeanne, Rose and Pompon—each in exquisite, recyclable, colorful floral packaging with a twist-up stick. According to the brand, the trim cylindrical lipstick-size package even lends itself to a new way of applying perfume, described as “a new beauty gesture, gliding on the skin like a caress.” Each stick is said to offer women 269 caresses on the skin.


How can women resist what Crazylibellule & the Poppies describes as “a new beauty gesture?”













Celebrity Rolls Along
From celebrities of the past to celebrities of the present, the desire to emulate famous personalities through their eponymous fragrances continues to captivate consumers— and thus, like prestige, the outlook for the celebrity fragrance market remains bright as it continues to roll out new offerings for fall.

While British actress and “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson was recently quoted remarking on the glut of celebrity fragrances, saying, “The idea of making my own perfume makes me want to vomit,” the dad of British songstress Amy Winehouse was reportedly shopping around for a licensing deal that would tie his daughter to a namesake scent.

Whatever their individual appeal, actors and recording artists continue to play a starring role in the fragrance industry. John Deputato, senior vice president, client solutions, for market research firm


Queen by Queen Latifah entices women with a ruby-red bottle, “the color of sexiness and love.”
12.5% and the men’s celebrity segment up 5.6% this year.” In the women’s category, Deputato says brands such as Halle by Halle Berry, Mariah Carey Luscious Pink and M by Mariah Carey, are helping to drive sales.

Actresses and recording artists top the fragrance launch charts.

Avon spokesperson Reese Witherspoon says that in developing her first fragrance, In Bloom ($34-$59), in partnership with the global beauty giant, “I found myself drawn to the scents of my childhood in Tennessee; we had a great big magnolia tree in the backyard, and it’s that beautiful white blossom that inspired the perfume.” The golden hue of In Bloom glows through a delicate, rounded glass bottle topped with a flower in full bloom, meant as a double entendre to appeal to the multi-faceted woman who’s down to earth, yet glamorous, elegant, authentic and confident and celebrating her sensual side as well. The fragrance will also be available as a limited edition parfum, housed in a special gift box, featuring a bottle charm of Reese’s monogram.

Coty’s launch from another Tennessee talent sentimental about southern magnolias arrives with crooner Faith Hill’s premier fragrance. The bottle, created by Hill with Lutz Herrmann, is vintage-inspired—a heavy, glass rectangle with a black grosgrain ribbon tied around the bottle’s neck. The juice inside is tinted champagne with peach undertones.


Apple Bottoms, from Nelly, lures women with gold embellishments and feminine curves.
Queen by Queen Latifah, a signature women’s scent from Parlux Fragrances Inc., includes eau de parfum spray in two sizes ($49-$59). The ruby-red bottle, “the color of sexiness and love,” according to Latifah, boasts a square shape “to represent the strength of a woman,” while a raised heart on the bottle’s facade is meant to represent beauty from within. Brandonology designed the bottle, SGD manufactured the glass, Emsar, the pump and FiamPack, the cap.

Romane Fragrances brings recording artist Nelly’s entry to market with Apple Bottoms ($58). The package features gold chain images, a gold apple medallion and a python print, along with feminine curves—the associated clothing brand is known for its jeans that fit women of all sizes. A full range of products is available, starting at $20.

Singer Mary J. Blige and actress Kate Walsh will also premier women’s scents.

In the men’s market, the world of hip-hop continues as a strong source of fragrance introductions introductions. Usher’s new collection (which includes eau de toilette in two sizes ($50-$65), launches in a heavy crystal orb, inspired by fine cognac bottles.


Power by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson appears in a smoky glass bottle capped by a silver top inspired by 50 Cent’s favorite Audemars Piguet watch.
Power by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, due out in November, also in two sizes ($50.50- $68.50), appears in a smoky glass bottle capped by a silver top inspired by 50 Cent’s favorite Audemars Piguet watch. The cap resembles a coin, and is etched with 50’s name in elegant script. One side of the outer carton repeats the etching, while the other uses a printed typeface. The fragrance, formulated by Firmenich, is marketed by Lighthouse Beauty, a new company in which 50 Cent is a partner. Maesa Beauty was responsible for the branding, design, engineering, and turnkey manufacturing of the entire line.

Optimism for Holiday 2009

Only time will tell which of the cast of celebrity, designer and prestige fragrances for fall—and holiday 2009— will make it onto consumers’ must-have lists.

Looking at 2008 compared to 2009, IRI’s Deputato offers an optimistic outlook: “Last year’s stock market crash occurred just prior to the holiday season so timing could not have been worse for the fragrance industry, which relies so heavily on a successful holiday season. We expect the fragrance category to rebound for holiday 2009. An innovative and disruptive 360° advertising and packaging approach with manufacturers partnering with retailers will be key for holiday 2009.”