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The French fragrances sector is driven by mature women treating themselves

18 February 2014

The fragrance market in France is dominated by the mature generation, particularly women aged 45 and older, who accounts for a third of the 7 million litre strong fragrance market. With a slow value growth forecast up to 2017, at a CAGR of 0.6%, targeting these women’s desire to indulge themselves is key to success, says new report from Canadean.


French Fragrances

The fragrance market in France is dominated by the mature generation, particularly women aged 45 and older.

While women aged 45 and over dominate the market, older men are not to be overlooked

The fragrance market in France is dominated by the older generation, particularly women aged 45 and over, who now have grown-up kids and more disposable income to treat themselves. Female consumers are responsible for 54% of fragrances usage by volume, with over 60% of female consumption by mid-lifers (45-54 year olds) and older women (aged 55 and over). This is a third of the total market volume. Meanwhile, consumers aged 45 and over also lead consumption by men, accounting for 40.7% of total male consumption and 18.7% of total consumption by both genders.

With an aging population, the importance of these groups will only increase: by 2018, there will be 1.8 million more consumers aged 45 and over in France than there were in 2013.

This aging population will also create opportunities to encourage brand switching. For example, over half of consumption by pre-mid lifers (aged between 35 and 44) is a result of using fragrances once a day; in contrast mid-lifers and older consumers use fragrances far more often: over 60% of their consumption by volume is a result of consumers using Fragrances more than once a day. This transition from less frequent consumption to more regular usage will be a key point for marketers to encourage consumers to switch brands.

Indulgence leaves no place for compromises

Indulgence is the most important of 20 consumption motivators Canadean tracks, driving 44.5% of consumption by value. The next leading motivation, consumer’s desire to use fragrances that affirm a particular gender identity, motivates less than half as much consumption. Consumers are looking for exclusive and high-quality fragrances that add a touch of class to their aspired image.

Despite the weak French economy, the country has witnessed little change in the top ten brands. This means that brand-loyal consumers continue to treat themselves with the brands they know and love, which makes it harder for new players, but creates an opportunity for limited edition releases of existing leading brands.

Meanwhile, health & beauty stores distribute half of all fragrances in France by value, over three times as much as the next leading channel. Specialized shops can provide an even more indulgent experience by featuring larger collections, consultants, and samples, so customers can examine scents themselves.

Asserting gender identity and aspiration are other leading motivations

The perception of perfume as a significant part of appearance means that consumers, especially women, want not just indulgent and sophisticated scents, but those that match their desired lifestyle, status, or image. This has helped established brands such as Dior and Chanel to continue to lead the market.

In addition, 21.8% of fragrances by value were consumed because they helped consumers to affirm a particular gender identity. This includes fragrances that help both men and women to assert traditional styles of masculinity or femininity, but also those that help to break gender stereotypes.


These findings are based on the new Canadean report: ‘Market Focus: Trends and Developments in the Fragrances Sector in France’.


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