Perfumes from luxury brands such as Gucci and Chanel, and scents endorsed by celebrities including Katy Perry and Jennifer Lopez are now competing with a greater number of Oud-inspired fragrances, according to retailers in the region.
Globally, the fragrance market was worth about US$30 billion last year and has been forecast to grow to $45.6bn by 2018, according to the market research company Mintel.
While the Mena region accounts for only about 10 per cent of the global market, the growing demand for premium products is giving it greater significance to the industry.
According to a Saudi media report, more than Dh12bn is spent on perfumes and skincare products in the Arabian Gulf region every year, with about half of that in Saudi Arabia.
Prism Group, a corporate gift supplier to government offices, has recently launched a range of Arabic perfumes sold in Wojooh, Paris Gallery and Faces shops across the UAE and in Saudi.
The first deliveries of its seven scents, branded Kindus and manufactured and packaged in France, were delivered only three months ago but it has now had to increase production to meet demand.
“In a three-month period we have sold around 10,000 bottles in the KSA and 5,000 bottles in the UAE,” said Mohammed Abdul Jaleel Mussabah, chairman of the Prism group. “I saw a 25 per cent rise in demand for perfume in the first quarter of 2014 and realised we had to be in this market. We have sold 80 per cent of our stock in Saudi Arabia and 75 per cent in the UAE with little marketing. We just use the beautiful Arabic calligraphy of seven different letters as our product names.”
Prism expects to start selling its Kindus range in Bloomingdale’s and Debenhams as well as in Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Jo Malone, the British perfumer that moved into the Middle East in Dubai in 2009, now has 10 outlets across the region. It introduced its regionally-inspired fragrance Oud and Bergamot in 2010.
“Oud and Bergamot is our No 1 seller,” said a sales assistant at Jo Malone’s outlet in Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. “It is not only our GCC customers that buy the fragrance, but people from the Orient and Russia love the strong smoky fragrance.”
International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), a fragrance house established in 1889, opened up a creative centre in Dubai in June to help it target the region.
“The Middle East is the fastest-growing market in the world right now when it comes to fine fragrances,” said Xavier Renard, the president and regional general manager of fine fragrance and beauty care for IFF, speaking at the opening of the centre.
“Recent fragrances we’ve been involved in the creation of – and that had a major launch in the Middle East – include Invictus by Paco Rabanne and Valentino’s Uomo, among many others. It is key for us to be here and also important for us to bring a new level of creativity to the market.”
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