Fragrance sales boosted by the Internet

As Elizabeth Arden reveals that strong Internet sales are helping
to push sales of its Britney Spears fragrance, experts reveal that
selling online is set to become the way forward for future
fragrance sales, reports Simon Pitman.

This week's announcement that the Britney Spears perfume is the number one selling product on is no great surprise to many industry experts who believe that prospects for fragrance sales look particularly strong.

Direct sales have always proved to be the mainstay for major cosmetic companies such as Avon and Oriflame, but with online sales of all consumer goods increasing rapidly, the Internet looks set to become a strong medium for the sale of specific cosmetic and toiletry products.

"There are some big discounts to be enjoyed purchasing fragrance online and brand loyalty is higher in this sector than others, so consumers can easily benefit from cheaper prices buying brands,"​ said Claire Briney, head of Euromonitor​'s global cosmetics and toiletries research programme.

It is also interesting to note that with the traditional young following associated with pop star Britney Spears, online sales have proved to be particularly strong. This correlates directly with statistics showing that use of the Internet and of online shopping is predominantly associated with the younger age groups.

However, beyond fragrance sales, it seems that sales of cosmetic and toiletry products still remain small. This fact is backed up by companies such as Avon, who say that their direct sales are still almost wholly made by face-to-face or door-to-door selling.

"My feeling is that cosmetics and toiletries is a market where sales depend more on the senses than other FMCG markets, and also on impulse buying,"​ said Briney. "To this end, sectors such as colour cosmetics will always struggle with the Internet, and my guess is that fragrances will be the segment that continues to fare best."

In the US, online retailing was up 19 per cent this November compared to the same month in 2003, according to Nielsen/NetRating. With similar figures being recorded in Europe, it is becoming increasingly evident that consumers are choosing to do their seasonal shopping through the Internet, rather than traipsing through crowded shopping areas.

In the UK, which has some of the highest rates of Internet use in the world, sales of consumer goods have continued to rise rapidly. According to Euromonitor, online shoppers numbered 16 million in November 2003 and were estimated to have spent £1.1 billion.

However, breaking this figure down, it appears that online sales of cosmetic and toiletry products accounted for a tiny fraction. This is backed up by further research from Euromonitor revealing that during this same period only 2 per cent of searches carried out for consumer goods were for health and beauty products.

Elsewhere in Europe, even in countries such as France, Germany and Italy where Internet usgae is relatively high, online sales are set to remain very low and almost negligible as far as cosmetic and toiletry items are concerned.

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