Fifteen years ago, when the misconception that Westerners used perfume to cover their body odor was still prevalent in China, perfume usage stood at a mere three percent and below 10 percent in first-tier cities like Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai.
With the rise of female consciousness in recent years, perfume has become a tool for independent Chinese women wanting to express and pamper themselves. At the same time, Chinese male consumers have also been leaning towards perfumes to showcase their taste and sophistication.
Having reached $51 billion in 2018, Euromonitor International estimated that the global perfume market is set to grow to $70 billion in 2022. And, in 2018, China’s perfume market grew to $12.35 billion (80 billion yuan) with a nearly 30-percent growth rate. It’s clear that China’s high-growth potential in perfume has been rising alongside citizens’ desires to pamper themselves.
Shortly after the brand was founded in Rome in 1884 by Greek silversmith Sotirio Bvlgari, it quickly established a top reputation for jewelry. And although the brand is best known for its jewelry collections — such as its fan-shaped Diva’s Dream collection, the Roman Colosseum-inspired B.zero1 collection, and its mysterious, snake-shaped Serpenti jewelry/watches collection, to name a few — its excellence later extended to fields such as hospitality and fragrances.
“It’s hard for bestsellers in perfume to go beyond five to ten years,” said Bvlgari’s Chief Executive Officer, Jean-Christophe Babin, to Jing Daily. “But Bvlgari Pour Homme has been a best seller for 25 years. Rose Goldea is also a really good example of a leading fragrance for ladies in China.”
For perfume, Bvlgari has prioritized the quality of its raw ingredients and environmental sustainability. “We have our own fields in India for jasmine with sustainable agriculture behind it so that the fragrance is not only good, but it is making a connection with the farmers of South India,” Babin said, adding that Bvlgari can also ensure the quality of the products this way.
One “cannot use the same perfume forever,” can they?
Most perfume consumers in the China market were born after the 90s or ’00s and are receptive to new things, according to the Gen-Z Cosmetics Consumption Trend Report co-authored by CBNData and Tmall International. When choosing perfumes, they tend to pick brands that they feel represent and showcase their identities over ones with the most name recognition.
Bvlgari knows a thing or two about winning the hearts of young consumers worldwide. To get them on its side, the brand has invited many young idols to become brand ambassadors. “We have been in touch with icons for the younger generation,” Babin confirmed. “We work with [singing group] BlackPink in South Korea, which is also very famous in China. [Younger consumers] are the digital generation, and they can spread their influence on Weibo and Instagram.” Last year, the now 20-year old singer Jackson Yee became Bvlgari’s global fragrance ambassador. Since then, the Rose Goldea Blossom Delight perfume he endorsed has garnered immense praise on Little Red Book.
Today, perfume makers have to face the reality that customers feel like “one cannot use the same perfume forever.” So the brand created its Bvlgari Allegra Collection, which brings the passion and joy of Italian culture to the Chinese public. Containing five EDP female perfumes for women and five magnifying essences, the collection perfectly embodies the brand’s larger-than-life spirit and allows consumers to create their own unique flavors.
“The essence of Bvlgari is developed by Jacques Cavallier, the best nose in the world, and all of our perfumers are extremely talented,” Babin said. Born in Grasse, a town on the French Riviera known as “the capital of perfume,” Cavallier also works for Louis Vuitton. For Bvlgari’s five magnifying essences, he created scents based on musk, bergamot, rose, vanilla, and patchouli. By mixing these perfumes and magnifying the essences, customers can personalize their fragrance experiences.
Since 96 percent of the 100ml Bvlgari Allegra perfume bottle is made of glass, Bvlgari also strives to make its perfume bottles as magnificent as its jewelry. And with names like Rock’n’Rome and Fantasia Veneta, each bottle awakens the joyful emotions of Italy. “Our world of fragrance is all about Italian lifestyle and Roma,” Babin explained. “In the case of The Bvlgari Allegra Collection, the design looks like the iconic stone pillars in Rome in a wide spectrum of colors. The packaging is also very rare in the industry.”
When it comes to pricing, many luxury brands price their perfumes at around $100, but Bvlgari Allegra perfumes cost $230 and the magnifying essences cost $184. Babin says the reasons behind the elevated price floor is not only because of the sophisticated packaging but also to reflect the high quality of Bvlgari’s other products.
“[Consumers] can discover necklaces, the world of jewelry, and then the perfume, and all the elements — from the distribution and the product design to the essence quality — are bringing you into [Bvllgari’s] jewelry universe,” he noted. “We make perfumes the way we craft jewelry, and we want to give our customers the most extraordinary products.”
Empowering the brand with sustainability
The Bvlgari Allegra Collection’s outer packaging on both the perfumes and magnifying essences are made with 100-percent, responsibly-sourced paper, and 80 percent of the box is composed of material derived from recycled and regenerated sources. The nozzle can easily be taken off to help recycle the glass bottle. Additionally, the aluminum part of the bottle can be peeled off before recycling.
In addition to eco-friendly packaging, raw ingredients inside fragrances also play an important role in driving the brand’s sustainable mission. “The raw ingredients of perfume are a part of our complicated sustainable system,” said Babin. “Our project in India, which helps producers grow and harvest jasmine safely and efficiently, aims at exactly that.”
Last year saw unprecedented challenges in luxury due to COVID-19, but Babin remains cautiously optimistic. He thinks that the pandemic escalated consumer demand for real luxury. But for a brand to produce real luxury, its products need to pass the test of time and reflect the brand’s status and culture.
“As a fascinating brand of Roman origin, Bvlgari is unique,” he said. “I don’t say that myself. Yet, it is said by the Italian government. We are tremendously proud of Italian culture and arts. So we take on the mission to bring an Italian brand and Italian quality to the world, which demands not only credibility, but craftsmanship, sustainability, and quality.”
Fueling sustainability into branding also helps elevate the brand image. “Celebrating the beauty to be rediscovered in Mother Nature’s stunning gifts” has been Bvlgari’s mission, and The Bvlgari Allegra Collection is a great showcase of customized perfume that can provide a unique experience for consumers.
Translated by Yaling Jiang