In the world of designer fashion, discounting and down-marking can be rare. Brands like Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Chanel are famously opposed to sales in their stores, believing it will compromise their luxury status. However, the same can’t be said for prestige beauty where, despite their luxury status, Black Friday and Christmas sales are often par for the course for fragrance brands.

It’s tricky territory to navigate, of course. Fragrance consumers have come to expect seasonal offers on scents, and brands who don’t fall in line risk losing revenue to their competitors. Harder, still, is balancing that luxury feel with the promise of a must-have deal for shoppers. So, how might fragrance houses maintain brand equity during sales season? Here are some tips to try…

 

1. Benchmark Discounts

While brands may have limited control over how eTailers choose to discount their fragrances, when the opportunity arises, they should aim for reductions in line with their competitors. When looking at top UK retailers from 2018 to 2019, MMI can see that products with a 15% or more discount increased by 43%. Half of that growth came from fragrance products with 15% to less than 20% off, indicating that this is the sweet spot for holiday season eCommerce.

 

However, sales will differ from one store to the next, with online pharmacies having the highest increase in discounted products year on year. In 2018, 6% of SKUs were priced between 15% to less than 20% off, compared to 21% of products with this same offer in 2019.

Meanwhile in 2019, although department stores’ online sites had 7% fewer discounted products overall, they were discounting more deeply than the previous year. Items that were promoted with 20% to less than 35% off increased four-fold. They did however have 24% fewer SKUs with discounts of less than 20% off.

And, finally, speciality online fragrance retailers have also taken to deeper discounting than previously. Compared with the same period in 2018, they had 52% more items sold with a discount in 2019. Where the market drove sales through products with 15% to less than 20% off, the majority of online fragrance store discounts were less than 10% off.

 

 

2. Be Mindful of Content

It goes without saying that, in prestige beauty, brand image is everything. That’s why, when trying to retain equity, marketers should review the creative around sales with a critical eye. While big, bold fonts and statement-making colours can be tempting for paid social and co-op banners, using a colour palette or style of font that’s inconsistent with the brand’s look and feel will be jarring for followers. Look to repurpose campaign visuals and high quality still life photography instead, while avoiding words like ‘sale’, ‘cheap’, ‘bargain’ or ‘budget’ in the copy.

 

3. Swap Discounts for Gifts

Rather than slashing the price of premium perfume, one other tactic brands should consider with their eTailer is maintaining RRP and adding a gift to their offering. Pairing their latest perfume with a mascara or scented candle is enough to entice shoppers, but may drive higher brand value than 20% off.

Better still, brands can offer creative incentives, like engraving of perfume bottles. You will rarely, if ever, see Jo Malone on sale, but they periodically give shoppers complimentary personalisation. Smaller add-ons can also lend a boost; it’s said that free shipping can increase sales by up to 10%. However, marketers should be conscious that more modest promotions, like delivery or gift wrapping, can get lost in the buzz of big discounting.

 

 

4. Establish Exclusivity

Few brands know more about driving exclusivity with discounts than Charlotte Tilbury. They combine too-good-to-resist offers with compelling messaging that lets shoppers know this is a one-time deal. Each year, the beauty powerhouse’s annual Black Friday sale makes headlines and garners thousands of shares on social media. In fact, in 2019, they went viral with a Mystery Box on the brand eCommerce site.

Giving shoppers £300 of surprise products for £150, the clever offer instilled intrigue and excitement, and created a sense of urgency with ‘don’t miss out’ copy. After all, this isn’t a typical discount – it’s a hero promotion that sells out fast, with the ‘mystery’ feature elevating their playful-prestige aesthetic.

Some brands have also adopted ‘by invitation only’ sales for newsletter subscribers, which have the added bonus of bumping up their contact lists. Finding fun and creative ways to discount products will prevent marketers from falling into ‘race-to-the-bottom’ tactics, making the offers feel exclusive and unmissable – just like the brand itself.

Looking for more ways to increase revenue over the upcoming peak sales period? Read how beauty brands can prepare for Black Friday and five tips for boosting beauty sales this Christmas.

 

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