Parisian high-end Haute Parfumerie, Parfums de Marly, opened its first boutique this week in the Asia Pacific (Apac) region, within Sydney’s Strand Arcade. The high perfumery now has six global flagships with plans to open another four locations within the Apac region over the next 12 months. Following its 2020 marketing strategy rebrand, Parfums de Marly felt now was the right time to enter the Australian retail space with its French vision of excellence and luxury in opposition to standardis
disation, through in-store customer experience. Niche fragrance brands are entering the Australian market and are catering to most budgets and ethical preferences with brands such as budget-friendly Àerre and vegan Who is Elijah. The demand for fragrance is only increasing, with the global perfume market projected to grow from US$48.05 billion in 2023 to US$69.25 billion by 2030, according to findings from Fortune Business Insights. Bringing the vision to customers Founded in 2009 by Julien Sprecher out of a passion for the splendours of the 18th century and scent, the name Parfums de Marly was inspired by Château de Marly, the residence of King Louis XV. The markets and consumer habits within Apac are diverse and each requires a unique marketing approach, Francois Debuiche, Parfums de Marly Apac commercial director told Inside Retail, “We noticed quite early on that Australia was having deep American consumption habits. The profile of the retail landscape is a very offline market, people are looking for the in-store experience, and they’re looking for novelty, while some markets are more [focussed on] hero products. So we adapted our content and development to the local tastes, which are again very influenced by America.” Having been in the Australian market for many years through retailers such as David Jones and the online direct-to-consumer (DTC) site, Debuiche was head of the brand’s distribution reboot in 2020, which included the new store. Parfum de Marly is a leader in the luxury fragrance industry and sits within the top three brands across Europe, America and the UK – a reputation that affords the brand legitimacy to be based in prime retail locations globally, positioned on Rodeo Drive, LA, Covent Garden in London, Rue St Honoré, Paris and the Dubai Mall. The newest boutique had to be in Sydney Debuiche stressed as “the major economic centre for Australia,” and the heritage-listed Strand Arcade building was an aligned fit for a brand with such a rich heritage. Moreover, the location was flagged as having a lot of exposure to tourists and locals with its city centrality. “The more you take the customer backstage and into the creation, the more you get them interested. We want to get them interested,” said Debuiche. Not slowing down While competitors were scaling back due to the difficult economic conditions of the last four years, Parfum de Marly had no intention of slowing down, “during 2020’s Covid situation, our strategy was never to slow down. We saw a lot of brands, stop producing and stop investing. We always believe we can gain more market share, more rank by working hard in the hardest conditions,” said Debuiche. “There’s been a bit of the red curtain effect, which means after lockdown when stores reopened for the first time in months. They were new brands,” said Debuiche. Instead, the brand further invested and took the opportunity to rethink its distribution network and internal operations. Which led to a greater focus on marketing in Australia: “We rebooted and I think we didn’t have the right partner that had a strong grip, both online and offline. For Australia, our strategy is pretty simple. You have a strong tissue of independent perfume chains, thinking of City Perfume fitting is pretty fantastic.” The stronghold that department stores have on the market share meant that partnering with department stores and the right ones was essential for the success of the brand’s Australian expansion. “By culture, we are a department store brand in the way we function. So it was necessary for us to be there.” Debuiche elaborated that: “Not all markets are as developed in terms of retail as Australia,” and a market such as China with “no department stores,” requires a much more focused strategy and a lot of money to establish within that market as an omnichannel retail brand. A 360 approach to being present in the Australian market is what Debuiche believes is essential for success and that includes online, magazines, pop-ups, department stores and ultimately a physical flagship location. The Sydney location is a manifestation of the fact that “we’ve always believed in Australia, even though it’s a small market by the number of inhabitants, consumption labour is pretty free. We do exceptional volume in Australia,” said Debuiche. The elevated sensory experience that is provided to customers at the new boutique is a response to the brand’s observations of the way Australians consume in the fragrance niche. An experience that could not be replicated online, through reading ingredients, “You have to be in the story to feel it. Fragrance has always been part of your life. You know what you like, you know what you want,” he added. This is a rich contrast to other markets that Debuiche referred to as not necessarily liking a fragrance, but purchasing it regardless as they are influenced by popular opinion. “I keep on meeting customers in Australia, just yesterday the guy knew more than me about my own brand. In that sense, you cannot be influenced so easily. So you have to go on-site, smell it yourself, make an opinion for yourself and then decide whether to buy or not,” said Debuiche. What’s differentiates De Marly Globally, the luxury fragrance niche consists of a few key players, but Parfum de Marly is well positioned. Yet when the brand entered the Chinese market Debuiche stressed that “the kings in town had been hammering people’s preferences for a long time,” making it harder for the brand to establish itself in that market during 2020. What has allowed the brand to thrive locally is that “when it comes to Australia, you guys consume like America. “Ultimately our product has been peaking from day one. We have some qualities in our product that answer to Australian consumers’ KPIs because people now in Australia have an important role in terms of fragrance consumption. We see that commercial and designer fragrances are plunging, while niche brands are on the rise. People are looking for these kinds of expensive fragrances that bring superior performance and unicity,” explained Debuiche. Being a unique fragrance that cannot be found anywhere else is the signature of Parfum de Marly. In addition, all scents are long-lasting and uniquely powerful, “we have a bit of a nickname in Europe. We are the neck braking brand. When somebody wears the fragrance and passes by, you get the lookback,” a reaction that Debuiche credits to the character of the product. A value proposition that consumers will spend upwards of $300 for due to its longevity and ability to be used in the morning and still be present in the evening. Its excellence within its niche is what has made it so successful globally and particularly within the Australian market. The construction of Parfum De Marly is niche as it is placed in the subcategory of Haute Parfumerie (high perfume), which is excellence in the consumption, quality packaging and the juice itself, which is created with no compromise on quality.