Consumers increasingly discover beauty products through ingredient-oriented and problem/solution searches. Yet in the fragrance category, searches continue to be largely branded, creating a challenge for manufacturers and retailers trying to find new customers.

When consumers enter Google searches in the Fragrance category, they already know what brand they want. More than half of the top 25 perfume-related search queries are branded. The top rising keywords related to Fragrance are also branded, indicating that while there are new winners across search, there are no new behaviors.

Perfume searches

The major challenge in such a brand-loyal and replenishment-oriented landscape is how to encourage switching behavior. Some brands have done this by experimenting with gifting and samples. This can be a successful strategy, as one in five consumers decides to purchase a new brand (versus a previously owned one) due to a trial.  

Retailers are gaining visibility across the few unbranded perfume-related search queries, with keywords such as “women’s perfume” resulting in the appearance of Macy’s and Nordstrom. However, brands trying to use retailers as an unlock might have to rethink their strategies. For example, Macy’s uses a highly promotional strategy on its Fragrance Gallery Page, which highlights product discounts and free shipping and returns. Alternatively, Sephora’s Fragrance Gallery page is presented as a discovery platform, categorizing perfumes by descriptions such as “floral scents” and “summer scents.” This incentivizes non-branded discovery alongside legacy branded behaviors.

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