Top Iconic Perfume and Cologne Trends

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo Da Vinci

If there is one thing for certain, the world, people, and society as a whole is always changing. For instance, as health, equality, and environmental awareness have come to light in the last decade, it was bound to alter consumer behavior, and that includes within the fragrance and cologne industries.  For example, the growth of luxury artisanal fragrances due to the rising demand for individuality has hindered the traditional fragrance market, placing these businesses in positions to innovate new ways to stay relevant and competitive.

With that being said, if standing companies wanted to stay connected and continue to grow, they needed to act and move with the tide. So, it is no secret that the private beauty label industries have been shifting gears within the ever-evolving market to do just that. Since the strive for buyer uniqueness and luxury appeal are high in 2020, several new trends have surfaced as a response.

Trend #1: The Battle for Prestige

“The fragrance market is about the race for prestige. The groups who have understood that are the ones gaining market share and revenue" - Olivier Aron, founder of ROSAE

With global high-end perfume leaders racing towards the goal of prestige, there have been some impressive innovative strategies implemented in the last five years. In the grand scheme of things, there were some very wise moves made, the latest being in 2019. The 2019 financial report results show these companies not only advanced with their luxury artisanal brands, but in some cases, they were offsetting the performances of weaker designer fragrances.

An example is Estée Lauder's 2019 third-quarter growth, boosted due to the expansion of their target reaches from their new product launches for Le Labo and By Kilian. About five years ago, Estée Lauder dived into the upper prestige segment of business rather than investing in traditional routes, and clearly saw great success.

Upper prestige is highly profitable, especially for department and specialist stores, and impacts significantly in a broader market as well, making it the #1 rising trend in today's society. Europe and the US are both converting to upper prestige fragrances as people become more educated and knowledgeable about craftsmanship, quality, passion, and purity of ingredients, and that trend is likely to continue on that path in the foreseeable future.

Trend #2: More Immersive Experiences

“Savvy retailers should take advantage of this fact more now than perhaps ever before, enticing people into the physical store with interesting fragrance offerings and experiential booths” - Angela Stavrevska, Perfumer at CPL Aromas and UK Creative Director.

In recent years, brick and mortar closures have reached an all-time high. For fragrance stores, this can be very harsh, considering this is one of the few products on the market that should be experienced in person before buying. Alternatively, the very fact that scents are longed to be an in-person experience is the very thing that can drive more interaction for the future. Many places are even taking their creativity a step further, drawing in sales through the use of sample vial kits which has been said to attract 66% more new customers, as it is original and exciting for people. It allows companies to develop trust and relationships with their customers and cultivates brand loyalty in the long run.

According to Jo Osborne, Director of Beauty and Concessions at Harvey Nichols, there are promising further benefits in creating immersive experiences for customers, as it brings an element of magic and theatre to shopping and allows customers to feel a sense of unity and involvement. Having a more hands-on trend is a sure-fire way to give customers reduced feelings of being overwhelmed when seeking a fragrance and makes the overall time memorable. Because customer engagement is becoming the forefront of company focus, it will likely continue to be essential and a new way of futuristic operations.

Trend #3: Communicating the Facts

Clean beauty is on the rise, and the best way to gain success in the fragrance industry is with communication. Communication, trust, and facts are all prevalent trends in the current fragrance world. Ingredient transparency, non-ambiguous FAQ commentary, and customer safety are vital and higher up on the totem pole than in the late past. People today are more directed to want positive change in the world and keep themselves as healthy as they can be, especially when it comes to what they are putting in and on their bodies. With that, the perfume they desire should have all raw materials, tested rigorously, and complies with the recent legislation in place.

Miscommunication and confusion can be detrimental to fragrance companies. Maybe the label states one thing, but the description says something different, thus putting customers at risk for adversities like allergens or buying chemically derived scents when that was not their intention.

The best thing to do is to make safety, clarity, and understanding a priority. More industries are telling their customers that even if a fragrance is labeled as natural, sometimes natural or synthetic ingredients might not always be safe. Know the customer demographics and find a way to bridge the language gap, so everyone is on the same page from point A to B.

Disclosure is a trend, and though formulas are not easily protected with copyright laws, customers still want to know what they are buying. And since many ingredients in a fragrance can be anywhere from 30 to 400 or more in length, the mission to find an easier way to communicate this without overcrowding the bottle is in full effect. Some places like the IFRA network are using websites to allow customers to find more information on a particular product to remediate this concern.

Overall, this is a way for the fragrance industry to educate customers, show them how their business truly works, and their genuine insights on ingredients and safety, making this a trend likely to not go away any time soon.

Trend #4: Low-Waste Luxury

"Low-waste packaging was important a couple of years ago; nowadays, it is critical and necessary to ensure business continuity." - Luis Miguel Gonzalez, Perfume Business Unit Managing Director in Bulgari.

In recent years, customers within every industry are more concerned and empowered by eliminating unnecessary packaging to reduce waste. In the past, luxury fragrances are notorious for their excessive packaging and layers of cellophane, boxes, wrapping, and heavy bottles, and they are now changing.

Most fragrance industries are trending today with the low-waste luxury movement, and are taking steps to get rid of things within the packaging that they do not need to better the environment and fulfill customer demand. Operations are continuously working and implementing sustainably with their product creations and are making them eco-friendlier than ever before. From raw compostable materials, supply chain interventions, and using just the recommended packaging are all efforts in minimizing environmental impacts, all while driving sales. Some brands are even announcing a refillable perfume system, making the perfume purchase more valuable and luxurious in the long term.

Though this is a trend in today's day and age, the work is not done just yet. The future's still bright, and the fragrance market is continuously developing groundbreaking ways to reduce waste and establish eco-friendly packaging.

Trend #5: A Gender-Fluid Future

For decades, fragrances have been categorized based on gender. On the surface level, perfume was for women, and cologne was for men. But as people's attitudes and beliefs about equality and labels shifted to become more unisex, so did the fragrance industry.  Today, and the last notable trend listed, is the mindset alteration of scents, making them undefined by femininity and masculinity. Fragrance companies are steering away from the sexualization of their scents that was far too common in the 90s, making them more neutral to empower the wearer no matter what they define themselves as.

"Brands are seeing the changes in consumer attitudes concerning gender. We don't need to fully blow out that this fragrance is over-the-top masculine or feminine. Brands are reacting by building and crafting products that speak to all." - Celine Barel, a perfumer at IFF.

Though Calvin Klein’s CK One started this notion of the unisex fragrance back in the 1990s, in the past year, it is now seen in brands of all corners of the fragrance market, including Chanel and LVMH. No matter what gender someone is, they want to be able to wear the scent that appeals to them without the judgment of being either manly or womanly. And with the innovative change, this market is riding the perception change and targeting a more fluid approach in wearing perfume to break down gender barriers.  

In 2010, 17% of all fragrance launches were 17% unisex. In 2018, that jumped to 51% and has only continued to rise well into the year 2020. With 50% of millennials believing that gender does not exist, fragrance companies needed to manifest to that new perception. This means that the industry's future will showcase more unisex fragrances, including changing labels, diversifying bottles, and branding acceptance and openness when constructing fragrances.


The global fragrance market recently broke $50 billion, while simultaneously breaking new ground for even more monetized success in the future. This is partly due to their creative and experimental elements within fragrance development and keeping up with the competitive alterations within societal demands. Overall, between the mission for personalization, healthy ingredients, sustainable beauty private label packaging, innovation in producing unique unisex scents, and revamping methods to design an exclusive array of fragrances, companies have been able to attract customers to their affordable luxury brands.

In the end, though there have been ground breakthroughs that are proven to fill the demand gap within society, there are still new opportunities and trends likely to surface in the future, fulfilling fragrance and cologne desires even more as the world continuously shifts.