Those Bonkers Ads Work: Prestige Fragrance Hot this Season

Image above: Chanel ad

It’s December, when beautiful actors star in famously nonsensical perfume ads, whether Emma Watson waxing paradoxical for Prada, Natalie Portman screaming about love for Dior, or a star-crossed couple dancing on the moon for Chanel.

It turns out it’s all working, with the NPD Group reporting a 4% increase in dollar sales from Oct. 2 through Dec. 3, compared to the same period in 2021.

And while that may not seem all that impressive an increase, the market research company says the fragrance category outperformed all other discretionary general merchandise spending during key weeks. That includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“Fragrance sales reached new heights following the pandemic, and it’s particularly impressive that the market is maintaining this elevated level rather than softening, which is typically the case after such an unprecedented performance,” says Larissa Jensen, beauty industry advisor at NPD, in its report.



“Considering that most holiday shopping for fragrances occurs within the two weeks leading up to Christmas, and December alone accounts for over 50% of fourth-quarter sales, much of the fragrance category’s sales success for 2022 is yet to be determined.” 

Physical sales outpaced ecommerce, with specialty stores doing especially well. Sales in those channels are growing at about four times the rate of department stores', according to NPD Checkout data.

In part, the increase in sales -- especially at physical stores -- is driven by a general excitement about real life, from in-person shopping to holiday parties, says Jensen.

“As holiday crunch time sets in, it’s important for brands to continue to work hard to capture consumer attention in these crucial final weeks of the season,” she adds.

Few brands are working as hard at capturing attention this year as Chanel. The famed perfumer recently debuted a special exhibition in Paris called “Spectacular Scents, Marvelous Magic Tricks, Unexpected Discoveries, Highly Anticipated Encounters and Many Other Sensational Acts.”

The Le Grand Numéro de Chanel exhibit, billed as “an olfactory kaleidoscope,” is running through Jan. 9.

It’s well worth a trip, writes Tatler. The exhibit is “an experience reminiscent of Dorothy’s first landing in Oz and Alice’s arrival in Wonderland.”

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