Fragrance Trends

Photography by Mariya Tatarnikova

The niche market: How to stay original, bold and daring


Aitana Lopez de Carrion


By Aitana López de Carrión, Fragrance Developer & Marketing Executive, CPL Aromas UK

Over the last ten years niche fragrances have experienced a great success and the market is expected to continue to grow. In fact, it is the best performing category within the global prestige fragrance market and the fastest-growing segment, estimated to represent as much as 10% of the total prestige fragrance annual sales.

According to Euromonitor; “The next five years will likely see the proliferation of small, artisan perfume brands hoping to capture millennials’ hearts, minds and noses. Sales of premium unisex fragrances are projected to double from 2015 to 2020, reaching US$430 million”.

Millennials want fragrances that express their personality. Fragrances with soul genuinely created by an artist, absent of gender stereotypes and distributed only in selected perfumeries. They are also more educated and more informed thanks to social media and blogs and willing to pay a premium for quality products. During the 12th show of Pitti Fragranze in Florence there were more than 271 brands, 80 of those showing for the first time. The question is how to remain ‘niche’ and survive in the market.


The pioneers of artistic perfumery like Lorenzo Villoresi, Patricia Nicolaï, Annick Goutal or Serge Lutens were able to express the artist’s story and inspiration while using the finest ingredients. These brands, now regarded as iconic, helped to develop a deeper understanding of ingredients and the art of perfumery.

However, there is a new generation of niche brands based on provocative concepts and themes that are attractive to millennials; such as music icons, tattoo culture and travelling the world. Being present in the digital sphere is paramount to attracting young consumers. Brands must engage with this audience by being highly active on social media platforms such as Instagram, maintaining an edgy website design and developing products with photogenic packaging.

Michael Partouche, also called Dr. Mike, Parisian pharmacist and rock singer, is the mind behind Room 1015. The brand’s name is inspired by the hotel room that was destroyed on countless occasions by rock bands. The fragrances, with names like Electric Wood and Power Ballad, convey the smell of lacquer wood, vinyl, ink and instead of a pyramid, a soundtrack with the perfume ingredients have been composed for each fragrance. Yesterday, which launched in February 2017, recreates the moment before a group of musicians hit out on stage.

Jusbox is another brand inspired by music and generational icons. The founders, V-Monkeys, Italian siblings obsessed with music, developed a collection of four fragrances so far. Each of them is linked with the music idol/s of each decade: Early 60s and Bob Dylan for Beat Café, the Psychedelic music of the 70s and Pink Floyd for 14 Hours Dream, Use Abuse represent the 80s with Queen, David Bowie and Micro Love and U2 for the 90s.


France has been leading the market for decades but now niche brands are all over the world. For example, Andrea Maack’s Instagram takes her audience on a daily breath-taking tour of Iceland, whereas Boadicea the Victorious’ Gold Collection takes you on a tour of the city of London: Kings Road, Bayswater, Chelsea, Hyde Park, Mayfair, Greenwich, Jubilee, Oxford, Notting Hill and Piccadilly.

Nishane is a Turkish brand inspired by the rooted traditions, modern vision and the cosmopolitan structure of Istanbul. The Fragrance Kitchen (TFK) was founded by the Kuwaiti Sheik Majed Al-Sabah and blends traditional Middle Eastern perfumery ingredients such as Oudh and Taif Rose with western styles and contemporary packaging. The brand was conceived after his grandmother taught him how to blend oils with precious and raw ingredients. A Rose With a View is a chypre floral fragrance based around Turkish Rose combined with violet and white flowers resting on base of patchouli, sandalwood, musk and amber. Over recent years we have witnessed the growth of oud-based fragrances launched by western brands and we continue to see new launches incorporating traditional Middle Eastern ingredients to please consumers in both markets.


Penhaligon’s Trade Routes Collection is a journey to exotic lands. Rich fragrances based on precious goods such as silk, tea and spices which arrived into the docks of London towards the end of the 19th century. Alizarin, inspiredby the Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt and the precious alizarin pigment is a complex oud-base fragrance and Oud de Nil is an oriental scent that recreates a cruise though the river Nile, blending white flowers with amber and woody undertones.


The best way of providing uniqueness and exclusivity is through limited editions. Clive Christian reinterprets his No.1 fragrance into a pair of luxury limited edition twists: No.1 Limited Edition Twist of Chamomile and No.1 Limited Edition Twist of Violet. Only 500 units of each perfume are available for a very limited period of time online via Harrods and Bergdorf Goodman. Each bottle is accompanied with a numbered certificate and signed by Clive Christian himself.


These are created by independent perfumers, in an artistic and artisanal way within their own atelier. For this reason they tend to be created based upon the artist’s passion and instincts, not necessarily following market trends.

Project Renegades arises from the association of 3 perfumers Mark Buxton, Bertrand Duchaufour and Geza Schoen. They wanted to have fun and do something crazy so each perfumer created a fragrance with total freedom, without price constraint. The aesthetic is a mix of the Wild West and video games with an avatar of the perfumer incrusted on the bottle.

Aeon Perfume is a way to approach perfume without compromises. They say “The idea is to collaborate with perfumers, artists and adventurous minds to deliver with every scent an entirely new universe of chemically driven emotions”. The perfumer behind each fragrance is only revealed once the following fragrance or project starts. Each fragrance will be available in only 333 pieces in selected perfumeries like Bloom Perfumery in London. Aeon001 is the first creation, a blend of vetiver with smoke, spices, resins and according to Luca Turin it is “the best vetiver in a long time”.

Hiram Green is a perfumer who creates 100% natural handcrafted fragrances produced in small batches in his perfume studio in Gouda, The Netherlands. Arbolé Arbolé, his last creation, is a woody earthy fragrance with patchouli, cedar wood and sandalwood softened by vanilla and tonka bean.


Although natural ingredients are still loved and regarded as precious; there is an emerging interest in chemistry and the mystery around molecules. 

Geza Schoen, founder of Escentric Molecules, presents consumers with a single bottled molecule. His latest launch, Escentric 04, focuses on Javanol, an ingredient used to evoke the character of sandalwood with hints of grapefruit and floral rose. Other brands follow the success including Aether that pays tribute to synthetics with fragrances named Carboneum or Ether Oxyde. Another, Nu_be Collection, interprets the periodic table of elements with Carbon [6C], Curium[Cm 96], etc; while Zarko perfumes fuses “classic French perfumery with stringent, Nordic molecular science”. 

Captive molecules are another way of offering exclusivity. CPL Aromas’ technology, AromaFusion offers a range of new, longlasting, captive materials designed by our senior creative perfumers for the exclusive use of CPL perfumers. The newest AromaFusion ingredient is Kashmir Fusion. It’s olfactive profile is complex and sophisticated. For CPL’s Global Director of Perfumery, Christian Provenzano, it forms“a sensual velvety accord of musks, precious woods and crystal amber suitable for both masculine and feminine fine fragrances”. 


CPL’s UK Directory Perfumery, Beverley Bayne, explains that this new fragrance ingredient forms “a plush spicy- musk with a red fruit nuance, perfectly balanced with evocative oudh and amber”. Beverley adds that Kashmir Fusion works well in chypre fragrances, particularly alongside other ingredients such as patchouli and Incense Fusion, plus it “gives depth and sensuality to floral notes such as rose and jasmine and combines well with all spices in oriental fragrances, but I like it with pepper, cardamom and clove”. 

Green is a macro trend which is going from personal lifestyle to corporate social responsibility. It is not surprising that “greenery” is the pantone of the year 2017. In perfumery, sharp galbanum notes reminiscent of the 70’s fragrances are back, adding deep leafy, mossy and soil facets. Tom Ford’s Les Extraits Verts sublimates the green note with different facets. Amouage’s Myths woman is a green floral with intense violet leaf, moss, powdery narcissus and animalic background. Fathom V from Beaufort comprises salt, earth and mosses while Ambergreen by Oliver & Co combines herbs, green leaves and ambery notes. 


The younger generation are strong online beauty buyers and they like to try new scents before purchasing. That is why brands are developing discovery kits and travel size bottles. Following the success of beauty box subscriptions services such as Birchbox, several niche perfumeries propose a similar concept. Bloom Perfumery in London and Sens Unique in Paris offer a yearly subscription whereby consumers receive a monthly box containing 6 perfume samples. 


Nose Perfumery in Paris offer an online perfume diagnosis service whereby the individual is presented with a personalised pyramid comprised of ingredients found within fragrances they have worn over their lifetime. Nose will then recommend 5 fragrances that you can order in a discovery kit. 

As the niche fragrance market continues to grow, brands must evolve, shock and push boundaries via avant-garde compositions to feed the appetite of content-hungry perfumistas and to obtain their share of this lucrative market.


Spring / Summer 2017

This edition launches the new look of our trend magazine, which for the first time incorporates our new corporate branding. Inspired by the world of fashion we bring you new ideas and insights that help to grow your brands and delight your customers.

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