Brenna Phelan, Manager and Fragrance Industry Analyst at The NPD Group, recently posted this sentiment on NPD’s blog, touching on the phenomenon that exclusive or limited distribution brands are outpacing the market in growth.

I went to a department store the other day and I fell in love with a fragrance I had never smelled before. The sales associate told me that it was an exclusive brand for the store which piqued my interest because it was unique. That comment also created a sense of urgency because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it anywhere else (well played Mr. Sales Associate). While the exclusivity tactic certainly worked for me does it work for your average shopper?

Many consumers say that they want a brand they trust* and they seem to be able to find that in broadly distributed, or at least widely known, designer brands**. The success of flankers or new variations of existing scents also suggest that lots of people like what they like and want to stick with what’s familiar.

On the other end of the spectrum, exclusive or limited distribution brands*** which have a smaller audience are outpacing the market in growth. That growth could be from increased appeal but it could also be from an increased number of exclusives out in the market. My desk is covered with ads from retailers promoting a new, exclusive scent. Like private labels in many other fashion categories, these exclusive brands set the retailers apart and create excitement. They give shoppers a little push to go into one store over another or purchase now rather than later.

So back to me and the scent that I found the other day. This particular fragrance is from a designer I am very familiar with but the collection is an exclusive to the department store. In this brand I get the best of both worlds, a brand I trust and something unique and special.

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / FragranceTrack® 2012 (31% of women and 26% of men report this as a requirement when purchasing fragrance)
** Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / BeautyTrends®, January-December 2012 (66% of women’s and 90% of men’s sales in prestige were designer brands)
*** Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / BeautyTrends®, January-May 2013 (Exclusive/limited distribution brands are brands that sell in less than 3 retailers. These brands, collectively, represent 6% of prestige sales and are +7% versus last year.)

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