How we’re buying perfume could signal how we’re feeling about
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A consumer’s mood about the health of the US economy, as well as the health of their own wallets, could affect how they buy perfume.

Experts say consumers tend to alter their purchase patterns during economic uncertainty, especially for discretionary items. Either they switch to cheaper alternatives, cut back on how often they buy products, or stop buying some products altogether.

A cheaper variant of perfume is seeing sales soar, which is no exception to these trends.

According to Pattern, an ecommerce platform that analyzes online product search data across multiple product categories on Amazon and elsewhere, there has been a 207% increase in the demand for more budget-friendly roll-on rollerball perfumes so far this year over last year, followed by an 183% increase in perfume samplers and a 30% increase in body mists.

The consumer is pulling back in this way, despite more traditional economic indicators showing a much more positive picture.

Price-conscious shoppers don’t abandon their purchases of pricey pick-me-ups, such as high-end chocolate, perfume, and expensive makeup, even during economic downturns.

When consumers buy small luxuries during a recession, it’s called the lipstick effect.

Consumer confidence is a little shaken right now, and consumers are tightening their purse strings,” said Dallin Hatch, a Pattern data analyst. As with the “lipstick effect,” he said perfume has become the new luxury item of choice during a period of economic uncertainty.

According to Hatch, “think of it as the new lipstick indicator of consumer sentiment.”

According to a separate report by Circana, a market research firm, mini bottles are set to be the leading size for fragrance buyers in the first half of 2023.

Based on retailer point-of-sale data, the report said mini-sized perfume sales fared better than the category, accounting for 38% of total fragrance sales this year.

“Fragrances under one ounce sell at three times the rate of the total fragrance market,” said Circana fragrance analyst Jacquelyn Wenskus. The firm noted that the pace for the category continues from last year.

“Fragrances under one ounce cost about a third of the price of larger size, so these appeal to consumers who are being cautious with their money but still want to pamper themselves.”

According to the report, despite jitters about the economy, feel-good indulgence spending has assisted both higher-priced prestige and affordable mass market cosmetics, skincare, and haircare sales in the first half of 2023.

According to Circana’s Larissa Jensen, beauty industry advisor, “The beauty industry is hitting the right notes, meeting consumers’ emotional needs through new and existing products.”