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"In an increasingly competitive market, niche perfume brands must reinvent themselves," François Hénin

A growing number of brands, more picky buyers and a constantly renewed customer base: niche perfume brands are looking for a new lease of life to surprise their adepts... François Hénin, the founder of Jovoy, the "Ambassade des Parfums Rares", a retail brand promoting rare perfumes, with several stores in Paris, Le Mans, London, Qatar and Dubai, but who is also the creator of the Jovoy and Jeroboam brands, answered our questions.

François Hénin, founder of niche perfume store Jovoy, and owner of niche...

François Hénin, founder of niche perfume store Jovoy, and owner of niche fragrance brands Jovoy and Jeroboam

Premium Beauty News - Today, what are the expectations of buyers of niche perfumes?

François Hénin - It’s no secret that the proliferation of brands is thoroughly changing market rules. As a result, buyers select brands according to their sales potential, particularly for in the Middle East or Russia, that remain the largest consumer markets for this type of perfumes. This phenomenon is particularly visible in London, at Harrods or Selfridges. The Agarwood note has lost some of its popularity, which doesn’t mean it’s a has been, and ranges built around this note still remain attractive.

Moreover, buyers are also expecting brands to innovate and reinvent themselves to attract a new target: young people and millennials.

Premium Beauty News - What are the consumer expectations like today?

François Hénin - Brands, for example, must adapt to the wishes and wants of millennials, who have different consumption habits than older age groups, like the Histoires de Parfums brand which proposes small sizes (15 ml), miniature replicas of its perfume bottles. They are cute, market-trendy, and they suit young people’s lifestyle. It could be referred to as a 3.0 niche, undergoing major changes.

More generally, the public is looking for exclusivity and personalization; this is why customer experience has become essential. So much so that Amazon, for example, is about to open brick and mortar outlets to diversify the buying experience. And the other point is that due to the fact selective perfumery brands have now also made theirs the discourses and codes of the niche, with their exclusive ranges, niche perfume brands must renew themselves to come up with something different to offer customers.

Customers have also become more eco-conscious, and sensitive to the use of recyclable materials, a new challenge for brands.

Premium Beauty News - Finally, how do retailers adapt to this new game play? What are your expectations, your projects?

François Hénin - We are evolving too! As an example, at Jovoy, we had, sadly, to end our partnership with some twenty brands, the ones who did not succeed in attracting their customer base in our outlets, but this decision has nothing to do with the quality of their products... Concerning my customer base, brands who failed to find their place are often those who are still cultivating an obsolete vintage style. The mushrooming of brands forces us to be more selective, even if criteria may vary from one concept store to another.

At Jovoy, we are in favour of the "new wave", "new school" side, to surprise consumers; original concepts such as L’Orchestre Parfum, or the Australian brand Gold Fields and Banks, a line of beautiful fragrances with a simple design. Another of our favourite perfume house is Domaine Privé, which offers perfumes at affordable prices (100ml for 88 euros). This is another good example of brands having to adapt to an ever younger customer base. Quite a challenge for a retail brand like ours!

Interview by Sophie Normand

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