How Gen Z is Disrupting the Fragrance Sector

closeup of a young woman holding a bottle of perfume

The fragrance sector of the beauty industry has always been a strong player, but its growth in the post-pandemic era has been booming. Fragrance sales in the US and UK were up 32 percent and 20 percent respectively, in 2022. The rise in demand has a global impact. Statista predicts fragrance sales will climb to $3.12 billion in China this year and $5.4 billion by 2026.

This renewed excitement in fragrance and perfume sales can be attributed in part to Gen Z. Young Gen Z shoppers are entering the workforce and earning paychecks. Some are taking that income to the ecommerce beauty and fragrance market in droves. And along the way, these new consumers are disrupting the industry. 

Gen Z views fragrance differently than their older counterparts. From how they wear it to where they buy it and why, Gen Z is shaking up the fragrance market. 

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Fragrance as a Mood Accessory

One way Gen Z fragrance shoppers depart from previous generations is in how they see scent. Unlike previous generations, who often wore a signature scent consistently, Gen Z is more likely to choose fragrances based on how they feel on a particular day. This has led to a surge in demand for smaller, more affordable fragrances that can be easily mixed and matched to express different moods and emotions.

Gen Z is also disrupting the long-held distinction between men’s and women’s fragrances. Instead, they prefer scents and brands that are marketed as unisex. This change reflects a growing demand for gender-neutral products and a rejection of traditional gender norms. 

Unisex fragrances are designed to appeal to any gender, with versatile scents that can be worn by anyone. Many brands now offer gender-neutral options alongside their traditional offerings, recognising the need to adapt to changing consumer preferences and values. This trend toward unisex fragrances is expected to continue in the coming years as more consumers seek out products that are inclusive and cater to a wider range of tastes and identities.

Home Fragrance is on the Rise

An essential oil diffuser sits on a table

Personal fragrance is not the only market seeing a shift; home fragrance is taking on a new life as well. In 2022, the home fragrance market value was $9.15 billion. By 2023, the market is projected to reach more than $11 billion. 

For years, brick-and-mortar retailers have used scent styling in their stores to make entering and lingering more enticing to customers. Now that trend is entering homes, with designers styling not just the colours on the walls and finishes, but also the scent of a home. These curated scent collections are tailored to each individual client based on their taste and the moods they want to evoke in each room.

In addition to aesthetic motivations, Gen Z seeks out home fragrance as part of their health and wellness routines. Young shoppers consider wellness to be more than skincare and exercise. For them, wellness is holistic and a lifestyle. To that end, incorporating scents into their living environments that promote health and wellbeing is important.

Indie Brands Hit it Big

Consumers are turning to indie fragrance brands because they offer unique and niche scents not available from mainstream brands, providing consumers with a more personalised and authentic experience. Indie brands are also known for their high-quality ingredients, ethical and sustainable practices and attention to detail in the fragrance-making process. 

Gen Z is also drawn to the compelling stories of indie brands. Many of these startups are women or black-owned businesses. Others have a compelling origin story that resonates with younger shoppers. A strong online presence and engagement with their customers through social media create a sense of community and connection.

Sustainable Scents

Gen Z is widely considered the most environmentally minded generation. They are vocal about their concerns and will stop buying from brands that do not measure up. Their sustainability and clean beauty demands extend to fragrance brands.

Young shoppers are looking for natural ingredients that are sustainably sourced. They also prefer to buy from brands that offer environmentally friendly packaging, carbon-neutral shipping, ethical sourcing and more. 

Gen Z wants to buy from beauty retail and fragrance brands that share their values.

Surging Fragrance Sales from Ecommerce

In addition to shifting purchase motivations, Gen Z is shaking up purchase channels. In recent years, nearly every sector – including fragrance – has seen a jump in ecommerce sales. 

During the pandemic, people became more accustomed to shopping for nearly everything online. Fragrance also saw an uptick in online sales as influencer marketing surged and digital shopping channels were the primary way to buy. As with other pandemic-driven solutions that remain popular, ecommerce channels continue to be the go-to channel for young shoppers. 

Customer experience matters more than ever and fragrance shoppers turn to brands that provide a seamless and personalised journey across channels. 

The Bottom Line

DTC fragrance brands have discovered new markets with ecommerce sales. But reaching these new markets can be difficult because fragrance is classified as a “dangerous good.” This means shipping is complex and expensive. But brands in the fragrance sector do not need to miss out on global expansion. 

With the help of ESW, fragrance brands can safely and efficiently ship their products anywhere in the world without worry. We enable the shipping of dangerous goods, including perfume, and provide end-to-end visibility, compliance management and risk mitigation. If you are looking for a reliable and safe way to expand your DTC channels around the world, contact us today.