Covid-19 has got a lot to answer for, wouldn’t you say? No one would have thought a year ago we’d still be battling it now, yet here we are. It’s no secret how huge the impact has been and continues to be, here in the UK and around the world. But if there’s one lesson learnt it’s this; adapt & overcome

With lockdown restrictions, social distancing measures and mask wearing rules, it’s unsurprising there’s been serious disruption in the fragrance industry. How are you supposed to discover new scents if you can’t remove your mask, or you’re anxious about stepping foot in a store in the first place? The joyful experience of walking into the fragrance department at Harrods or Harvey Nichols and wafting a new scent under your nose loses its lustre if you can’t fully immerse yourself, right?

Retail sales have understandably plummeted, and with perfumes notoriously difficult to sell online, it didn’t look great for the fragrance industry back at the start of all this. But the inevitable growth of online shopping (because what else is there to do when you’re stuck at home?) meant growth for perfumes too. 29% of adults now shop online for fragrances*, a figure which has prompted retailers to adapt the way they sell perfumes in a digital based market

Speaking frankly,  perfume is a non-essential product. Its key ingredient alcohol can be better used in alternative products such as hand sanitizer,  leading to a shortage. But the power of scent is not to be underestimated, and consumers have sought out the ‘armchair travel’ concept in other forms. We as humans have an inherent ancestral longing for comfort and calm, for the familiar.  Home scents like diffusers and candles have become increasingly popular over the last year because of this, and retailers have rolled with it

We’re setting matches to our favourite scents and filling our homes with it, instead of wearing it on our skin.  This adaptation has meant many of us have overcome troubling times and found reassurance and joy in our spaces during lockdown, maybe even transformation; perhaps your rarely used office is now a place of production and creativity? Indeed, the very lighting of a candle with a raw flame is almost symbolic of light at the end of the tunnel

And light there certainly is.  As we move forward into a fresh phase of navigating the pandemic, trends this year are tipping towards sustainability and ‘conscious’ fragrances. Vegan-friendly, sustainability and transparency are keywords. Self-care is also crucial. People are gravitating towards clean and uplifting scents with a holistic feel, and the option of purchasing favourite scents in a body wash or candle form allows for a ‘home spa’ ambience

But there is also a need for individuality, particularly in Gen Z and millennial groups. Fragrance lets you reflect a certain image or identity but is also a way of attracting others and playing on a sense of belonging. Further exacerbating that is an appreciation for the outrageous and unique. To stand out from the crowd is desirable right now, and there are many exciting niche fragrance houses already touching on that

And there will always be that longing for escapism.  The need to be elsewhere, if only for a little while, and particularly after such a challenging year.  Scent can transport you, an experience which is perhaps the most overriding element in the joy of fragrance, and one that niche brands are constantly playing on. Some are doing it better than others, and others are doing it even better.  They’re the ones to watch as we move out of pandemic territory, and into the light 

 MINTEL REPORT Fragrances: Inc Impact of COVID-19 – UK – August 2020

Imagery and video supplied by Nasomatto, DS & DURGA & 27 87 Perfumes