Expert panelists at The Fragrance Foundation’s State of the Industry lunch on November 17th at The Harvard Club in New York City agreed on one point: The economy was in for the long haul in terms of a full recovery. Deirdre Bolton, anchor for Bloomberg Television kicked off this review of the fourth quarter and a look further down the road, with a video highlighting general economic comments from heavy-hitters Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke and Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, Tim Geithner.
Susan Babinsky, senior vice president of consumer products at Kline Management Consulting & Marketing Research Group said that the good news is fragrance sales remain above the $5 billion mark, but the not-so-good news is four consecutive years of negative sales growth. Kline Research found that what works in a down market to excite and tempt consumers is: the tried & true, special, new, value, innovation and experiential.
Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board commented that although the recession technically ended in July or August, consumers are not feeling like it is over. He predicted that the recession would not be fully over until 2015 mainly due to lack of jobs and the fact that consumers are putting money away in a saving accounts and therefore money saved is not money spent.
Consumer spending habits have changed drastically, according to Wendy Liebmann, co-founder and chief executive officer of WSL Strategic Retail, who said, “They don’t shop now for things they don’t need. There has to be an experience that goes along with the purchase. Whether that’s service, innovation or technology.”
Rochelle Bloom, president of The Fragrance Foundation, noted that the attendees were geared for a tough fourth quarter but reasonably optimistic that business would at least be flat.