Why China is the new fragrance battleground for brands

By Jo Allen | Published: 24-May-2023

Chinese Gen Z consumers are driving this 'new El Dorado for perfume'

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Given that only 5% of its population currently wears fragrance, the buzz and fervour around China’s perfume market may initially seem puzzling.

Legions of international perfume brands have been clamouring to enter the country, while local fragrance brands have been attracting investment from the biggest multinationals.

Puig and L’Oréal have focused on both. The former brought L’Artisan Parfumeur to China as well as investing in local Chinese fragrance brand Scent Library in 2021, while L’Oréal brought Prada into the country last year, and purchased a minority stake in Chinese brand Documents, via its Shanghai Meicifang Investment arm.

Jessica Jin, Category Director of Beauty and Personal Care and Household at Mintel China adds that in 2022, Serge Lutens launched on online channels and plans to open offline stores later, and Le Labo announced its China market debut by opening its first store in Shanghai in April 2023.

The reason why China’s fine fragrance market is garnering so much attention and investment – despite its low penetration and sales representing just 4.1% of the global perfume market in 2021 – is that it is on the cusp of exploding due to the rapid uptake of fragrances among millennials and Gen Z.

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