I attended an intriguing presentation at Pitti Fragranze 2015 that focused on two perfume stores separated by the Atlantic Ocean. The stores in question were Lucky Scent, based in Los Angeles and Jovoy in Paris. Author, journalist and perfume reviewer Chandler Burr hosted the discussion between Franco Wright and Adam Eastwood (Lucky Scent) and Francois Henin (Jovoy). Note that Lucky Scent is the online store and Scent Bar is the bricks and mortar retail presence, although here the business is referred to as Lucky Scent unless specified.
The ensuing conversation clearly demonstrated differences in customer behaviour and preferences between the two markets. Here are some outtakes from the discussion.
Lucky Scent’s vision at its inception fourteen years ago was to offer an online niche perfume store for parts of the USA the founders felt were missing out on the experience. They thought there would be a market in areas outside of New York and Los Angeles. Their assumption on their target market turned out to be incorrect. In fact online shoppers from New Jersey, New York and Los Angeles comprise the majority of their sales.
In 2010 François Henin opened Jovoy in Paris. He had revived the Jovoy perfume house and wanted a store to showcase his brand. Henin also realised there was a shortage of multi brand perfume stores in Paris. Initially the store stocked only ten brands, all of which are still retained including Nobile 1942, Micallef, LT Piver and E.Coudray.
The general feeling is that the Paris market is still under serviced by multi brand stores. Henin said that the niche market is characterised by mono brand stores and also concept stores such as Colette. Department stores such as Printemps and Galeries Lafayette also sell many niche brands now as well, although Henin saw this as a different type of offer. Henin also revealed that further multi brand perfume stores will be seeing the light of day in Paris in the near future. Jovoy franchises are also on the cards.
The business model for Lucky Scent is driven primarily by online sales, bringing in 85% of business while Scent Bar pulls in only 15%. Interestingly the reverse is true at Jovoy. 85% of sales are in store and the website only accounts for 15% of business.
Lucky Scent and Jovoy both sell more to females (70%) than males (30%) in their stores. Although Lucky Scent did say however that the male shopper is growing in numbers and that they’re more committed to find fragrances. They’ll spend more time in store exploring the ranges. At Jovoy sales were 75% female, compared to 25% male. Henin said that men are much easier to convince to buy a bottle of perfume than females.
Lucky Scent revealed that their core in store customer is local but they get a tourist peak in August, particularly from visiting Arabs. Their Russian market has dropped off this year. They also have a tourist market from the guests at hotels in Beverly Hills whose customers are directed to them. As mentioned earlier, the biggest online shoppers are from New Jersey, New York and Los Angeles in that order.
Jovoy’s key clientele is composed mainly of Russians and Orientals (I took this to mean the Middle East). Henin said that the store is surrounded by upmarket hotels and as Paris is viewed as the capital of perfume, the tourist dollar is very important. He also revealed that it’s more difficult to sell to the French. They typically lack knowledge of niche perfume and the press and blogs typically feature mainstream and designer perfumes. Additionally there is a lack of stores that sell niche perfumes in France. I would also venture to add that multi brand mainstream stores such as Sephora dominate the perfume landscape. Online sales are 50% French, 50% other countries. He also mentioned that London in fact sold more perfume than Paris.
The difference between the customer preferences of the Lucky Scent and Jovoy shopper is stark.
Lucky Scent : The best seller at Lucky Scent for six years has been Molecule 01. Lucky Scent sells around eight bottles a day. Escentric Molecules is also the number one brand. No 2 is Commes des Garcons, a perfume house very dear to the founders hearts. They owned perfumes from the brand themselves before they entered the business as it was an aesthetic they responded to. By Kilian is the their third best seller. Byredo and Le Labo make up the 4th and 5th spots.
Jovoy : The haute parfumerie perfumes (i.e. highly priced) sell well. The top sellers are from Roja Dove, Clive Christian, Xerjoff, Casomarati 1888 and Nasomatto. The Jovoy customers not only prefer the higher priced ranges but they buy these in quantity too. Henin also commented that none of these brands are French.
I would characterise the best selling perfumes at Lucky Scent as overtly modern perfumes, whereas the scents at Jovoy have more of that old world bling appeal. The contrast in buyer preference between the two stores is stark.
Interestingly Lucky Scent revealed they had a more difficult time selling perfumes pitched at a higher price point. They said they’re hearing from customers they termed collectors, that perfumes are getting too expensive and that this group don’t really believe the ‘we use top quality ingredients’ story, so more push back is starting to occur.
How Are Brands Selected For The Stores?
Both Jovoy and Lucky Scent revealed that this is becoming more complicated. Both stores now stock an incredible number of brands and receive an overwhelming amount of new ranges to try. Initially at the start of their business, Lucky Scent mentioned that they had to hunt out new brands, whereas now the brands come to them. Both stores ask opinions from their staff to help select new perfumes for the stores. The criteria for choosing a perfume brand for their stores can depend on a number of factors. The stores need to take into consideration the brand, the concept, the packaging, the price point and the perfume. Does the brand fit with their current stock? Does it offer something unique? If they feel they already have something similar then the brand won’t be stocked.
Where Does Natural Perfumery Fit In Their Retail Operations?
Lucky Scent revealed that natural perfumes are a growing trend in the USA, but the perfumes are a difficult sell. They find that the natural perfumers themselves can more effectively sell their own perfumes through their networks to their loyal clients than Lucky Scent is able to.
Jovoy doesn’t stock any natural perfumes and Henin said that these are a hard sell in France as his customers are sceptical of the quality of the perfume.
And that’s a wrap. I found the conversation provided a fascinating insight into the retail business and a fleeting look at some of the differences between the two very different perfume markets.
Notes : All images Megan In Sainte Maxime. Featured image is a close up of the wall in the seminar room.