Smelling an opportunity: The fragrance review community
“Okay, I’m going to count: 1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10.”
The award presenter was enumerating the number of one-handed pushups being performed on stage by Jeremy Fragrance. From a small German town (You were expecting Cologne?), Fragrance had just accepted the Fragrance Foundation’s 2018 “Consumers Choice Best Vlog of the Year” award in New York. And channeling the ghost of Jack Palance, he did what any award winner in his position would do: engage in a memorable feat of strength to be featured in his next vlog.
With over a million subscribers, Fragrance’s channel sits atop one of the most intriguing groups on YouTube. The fragrance review community is 10 years old, but many of its most-subscribed creators launched their channels or transitioned to focusing on fragrance reviews within the last three years. Views of videos related to the fragrance review community increased over 50% from January 1, 2020 through June 2020 compared to the same time period last year.*
The Scent of a Woman... and a viewer... and a creator
Part of this increase has been fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic. Choice of scent is highly personal, but with the closure of brick-and-mortar stores, fragrance reviewers appear to be filling a void. With respect to all types of fragrance videos, most of the video views skew toward women aged 45-54, 55-64, and 35-44, followed by men aged 45-54, 35-44, and 25-34.
The channels hosting these scent-sational videos are disproportionately from the U.S. and Brazil, which correlates with countries that have the biggest fragrance markets (e.g., the U.S. boasts $8.4 billion in annual sales, followed by Brazil with $6.9 billion). That said, within the top 10 most-subscribed channels, five of the creators are Brazilian. And among those top-10 channels are six male creators.
Indeed, the fragrance review community’s creators are largely male. And again, the magnitude of sales is a factor here, as the sale of men’s fragrances are growing at a faster rate than women’s.
While technically a subset of beauty creators, fragrance creators often distinguish themselves from their other peer groups in beauty through the frequency in which they post new content. While many beauty creators only publish once a week, it’s not uncommon for fragrance creators to publish several times a week. And in the case of Jeremy Fragrance, sometimes even several times a day.
Creators within the community rely primarily on three types of formats: how-to videos, reviews of individual fragrances (both old and new), and thematic roundups of scents.
While this category is the least popular of the three, the most-viewed video in 2020 (as of today) is a how-to video from Korean professional perfumer 톰빌리Tombilli. He gave viewers a slap on the wrist by shattering the widely-held belief that perfume should be worn on the wrist.
One of the most popular reviewers in this category is Spain’s Andrés Perfume-Man, whose videos focus on common community themes, such as scents that attract women and scents that are long-lasting.
The most successful format of the three is thematic roundups, whose popularity is driven by timely trends. This approach groups fragrances by categories, including:
Seasonal roundups (e.g., Best scents for summer)
Scent-family roundups (e.g. The best vanilla perfumes)
Price-based roundups (e.g. Great cheap fragrances under $30)
Emotion- or quality-evoking fragrances (e.g., Fragrances that make me happy).
The effect of fragrances on mood has been known for some time and confirmed by science. So it’s no surprise that another common roundup video theme that has been recently embraced by most creators in the community is “fragrances to wear during quarantine.” These videos often promote “relaxing” and “feel good” scents that instill a sense of calm for their wearer, as opposed to an external reaction by another person.
Despite the growth in viewership, very few of the top 500 fragrance creators have created their own signature scents, let alone run a fragrance brand. The market for scents is highly competitive and demands tremendous discipline and patience. (Just ask Michelle Pfeiffer.) Nevertheless, some creators have launched their own lines after joining YouTube — including Jeremy Fragrance, Samy Andraus, Aaron Terence Hughes, and Redolessence — building a marketplace for their brands through their channels.
So, what can one expect for the future of the fragrance review community? As Covid-19 continues to push more sales online, the need for online perspectives on fragrance will likely also maintain its growth. This trend, like others that emerged during the pandemic that rewrite how we shop and make purchases, should retain its traction. The drive of its creators will further ensure that their audiences will continue to grow, even if most can’t do a one-handed pushup.
*Source: YouTube data, global, Jan-Aug 2020 vs Jan-Aug 2019.
Note: To determine which channels make up any community, we analyze a variety of signals, including titles, tags and other metadata, to form a pool (excluding artist channels and channels that are not relevant). Community stats are derived from that grouping.