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Introducing fragrances in-store

Gift Focus talks to perfume experts from the fragrance association IFRA UK to see what's getting customers sniffing this season

With a high level of gift merchandise being fragrance items, selecting from the extensive range of products available can be challenging, especially for retailers with limited shelf space.

When it comes to buying, there is one area where even the most professional retailer needs to avoid being swayed solely by personal favourites. Similar to other product lines, fashions in fragrance change with the seasons. However, unlike other products, our sense of smell is linked to emotions, therefore buyers need to be objective in order to offer choices to suit a variety of customers and their individual preferences.

Trade body IFRA UK represents the creators of fragrances. Director, Lisa Hipgrave, says: "Customers are influenced by trends and fashions in fragranced goods, and so being aware of what's hot and what's not is important whatever you're buying, from homewares to fine fragrances."

Authenticity and nostalgia

According to IFRA UK's Acting Chairman, Jonathan Gray, who runs perfume house MANE UK, a key trend seen across categories from home to fashion and beauty is authenticity, he explains: "There's a current desire by consumers to experience 'real' products, with a strong backlash against fake items. We've seen a return to authenticity in personal care products with the revival of trusted and nostalgic formulae. In fragrances, brands will explore the seductive power of retro-olfaction. Fragrances are turning to the past and many brands will look at re-launching iconic scents."

He adds: "Floral bouquets remain a strong trend all year around. Powerful white floral notes of Jasmine, Gardenia and Tuberose continue to be popular." This isn't just true for products that appeal to women. "The men's market will continue to follow a sophisticated path and take further influence from the female market, while children's products will focus on a natural positioning," says Jonathan Gray.

Trend appeal

The experts agree on the current trend towards exotic fruits, especially citruses and traditional, authentic floral scents. Jonathan also points to what he describes as 'blue and white scents' being another popular growth sector for the coming season. "Look out for scents that reflect cool, clean materials - linen and cotton or marine and aquatic-inspired fragrances are going to be popular. They create a fresh, clean and relaxing environment."

Stephanie Topps, Acting Vice Chairman of IFRA UK and Managing Director of fragrance house, Robertet UK, says: "Fashions in fragrance are particularly strong this season. I would pick kitsch, romantic, oriental and the Renaissance. These four trends work particularly well for giftware retailers as they can follow one trend or have fun mingling not only the scents but the way they dress the window and store interior too."

Another expert, Selena Thomas of CPL Aromas, says: "Trends in interiors and fashion will always influence fragrance. For men, The Great Gatsby '20s movement will still be popular, alongside classic fragrance directions such as woody fougeres and colognes. A masculine, rugged explorer trend will also be seen with green fougeres and hints of woods and spices."

For winter 2013/2014, Selena says: "Christmas trends still centre on traditional directions such as spiced red fruits, cool frosted woods, frankincense and myrrh. Trends include food, gourmand home fragrances and deep purples complemented by decadent fruit fragrances, while spices and woods reminiscent of the Middle East still prevail."

Key trends identified by the experts include:

Authenticity and the great outdoors: natural, green and woody notes.
Kitsch: fruity notes such as tangerine, strawberry, wild cherry, pink grapefruit and raspberry, and green herbal scents.
Gothic Romantic: jewel-toned colours and richly decorated packaging with glamorous fragrances of rich red roses and fruits, addictive exotics such as black orchid or vintage flowers like jasmine and gardenia.
The Orient: notes of classic oriental spices and fruits, bright citruses and florals - jasmine, pink pepper, patchouli, soft leather, cedar, bergamot, patchouli and vanilla.
Tradition and nostalgia: classic spices, especially for the Christmas period.
Renaissance revival: rich textures, scents and colours of the renaissance complemented by sweet and enticing scents reminiscent of sugared rose petals and candied fruits. Seductive, heady scents of ylang, patchouli, and vetiver; or sweet flowers like violet and hyacinth.
Cool and clean: marine and aquatic notes.
The Great Gatsby: woody fougeres and sophisticated classics for men in particular.

Scent isn't the sole consideration - quality and safety matter, too. Buying from a company that uses an IFRA UK member for its fragrances gives invaluable guarantees of safety, reliability and quality.

So the advice is, where possible, try before you buy and check where your suppliers are sourcing their fragrances and fragranced products. Lisa Hipgrave, adds: "Fragrance is quite magical in its effects. This is often the one aspect that differentiates a product from a competitor. Getting it right, by choosing a reputable supplier, is easy; getting the buying decision wrong can cost you dearly."

The fragrance trends this season offer exciting variety and selling opportunities and are perfect to carry you through into early 2014.

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