Today, many terms are used to define the players of the perfume market: selective perfumery or mainstream, confidential brands, niche perfumery… The latter has entered perfumers and consumers common language and is the subject of much debate. How can we define niche perfumery and does it still make sense? Let’s learn more about this fragrant nebula.
What is niche perfumery?
Using the term “niche” refers to the economic and marketing language. A niche market is by definition a narrow or confidential sector, which corresponds to a specialized product. And this specialized product entails connoisseurs, experts or at least people allocating a significant part of their purchasing power in the acquisition of this product. When a company targets a niche market, it seeks to face less competition but also knows that it will meet less clients opportunities. Here is the challenge.
But let’s get back to our scented business! Niche perfumery is distinguished from the “mainstream ” in particular by a more confidential and specialized distribution network. These fragrances are not sold in well-known retails. We can found them in independent perfumeries, the own stores of the brands and sometimes in multi-brands shops or concept stores… This distribution sector currently accounts for about 10% of perfume sales*. But the type of retail is not the only difference of niche brands…
Where it all began
In the beginning of the 20th century, the perfume market is evolving. So far alone on the sector, perfume houses are quickly dethroned by great fashion houses who offer a more attractive communication and play on their luxurious brand image. Only a few firms resist, like Guerlain or Roger & Gallet.
From the 60s, the niche perfume emerges through players who give a new meaning to cult ingredients. Diptyque, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Annick Goutal or Serge Lutens to name a few, become the pioneers of a different perfume. Different because they stand far from the “mainstream” perfumery codes: sober 19th century-appearence bottles, rare raw materials highlighted until the name of the fragrances, bold and right olfactory commitments, formulas that are often more concentrated and especially little or no advertising but a more private communication. These new marketing codes evoke genuine know-how, expertise and a great creativity.
Niche perfumery players
In this new advanced sector, different players evolve. The first houses creating this movement paved the way for new alternative brands whose positioning is different. Some perfumers-creators, like Olivia Giacobetti who was one of the first, saw there an opportunity to free themselves from a too standardized market by composing their own fragrances independently.
Keeping an eye on this evolution, the biggest brand understand the interest of being present near a clientele of connoisseurs. Therefore, they also created exclusive collections, following the same codes of niche perfumery. New fragrances are imagined, more precious and with suggestive raw materials, benefiting from their wide distribution network. Smelling a increasing interest and success, major groups acquired lately many independent brands, offering them more ways to grow.
A market turning confused
In 2016, the number of “niche” perfume launches exceeded the one of other brands. This market would therefore start to be seriously congested and no longer so confidential. In recent years, the boundaries between “niche” and “mainstream” are becoming increasingly thin. Niche perfume consumers are no longer just informed amateurs. But it is a whole heterogeneous population who is now looking for originality, seeking for unscented fragrances…
The way of communicating change and adapt so that each of these confidential brands can win customers’ noses. So can we still really talk about niche today? In front of an increasingly saturated sector, the marketing term “niche” no longer seems very appropriate. Specialists now prefer to talk about alternative brands, confidential, selective perfumery or even perfume of author.
Where does Carrément Belle stand?
Beyond a brand, an advertisement or a distribution network, the most important to us is what remains inside the bottle: the perfume! But not at any price, because since 1988 we aim to offer high quality fragrances at the fairest prices! Our expectations and preferences will always be dictated by our olfactory experiences, memories and emotions. Carrément Belle follows its perfumed history independently. Every project that point the tip of its nose in our workshop is self-financed to keep our freedom to dare bold fragrances and create at our own pace.
It is still possible today thanks to our historic perfumer from Grasse, recognized as one of the best for his selection of natural raw materials. But also thanks to our suppliers who have become friends over time and especially to over 200 loyal retailers who allow you to try our perfumes in their ready-to-wear, jewelry and accessories stores. And it is not likely to change! Our philosophy is not to offer a new fragrance every year. We take the time to see a perfume evolve, to understand how you feel about it and then to reflect for months or even years at a new Carrément Belle fragrance. We do not rely on a fancy communication but on your inspired feedbacks!
Inciting olfaction and interaction
No matter what perfume or brand you wear: if you are curious to learn more about Perfume, we invite you to ask us all your questions! You can also chat with informed noses on AuParfum dedicated forum for example.
We are curious: how do you perceive our brand and our fragrances? What do you think of niche perfumes and where do you go to discover an olfactory gem?
Le Grand Livre du Parfum, 2018, p. 124 – Nez Culture