In a recent grievance from the fragrance industry it was noted that not only are fewer people buying fragrance, those who do buy are making less use of it. Anyone who holds conversations with people outside the fragrance industry would know this. The trend is obvious. You don't need an expensive data tracking systems. But exactly what IS this trend?
The trend involves fashion and awareness. There is a growing FASHION trend today to be "anti." The theme of this trend is the notion that shadowy, evil, giant institutions are bent on screwing the individual in every way possible to reap monster financial gains. This trend has been embraced (very selectively, of course!) by both mainstream and counter culture consumers (mostly of middle class origin) and it has given (middle class) youth a "cause" to fight for.
One example of this trend is "green."
Fighting trends is expensive and generally unprofitable. But those who are aware of trends and embrace them can make out quite nicely. Thus major marketers -- including fragrance marketers -- are "going green" and bombarding their products with "natural" ingredients and "environmentally friendly" packaging -- to a point.
But the shift away from fine fragrance is not cataclysmic. This shift has been driven by the aggressiveness of "sufferers" of high fashion allergies which discourages the use of fine fragrance by their more sober coworkers who prefer to "respect" their idiosyncrasies rather than stand up for their own "right" to wear fragrance as they please. (By contrast, to snuff out smoking in the workplace, tons of heavy duty research was needed in an effort that took many YEARS!)
Does this mean that Americans (perhaps more than Europeans) are going "fragrance free?" Not even close! In fact we are witnessing a wonderful explosion of the use of artificial scents in our environment -- which are accepted because they are not associated with fashion designers, celebrities, or such. The best example of this are the soaps and various household cleansers we use. Even hair spray is scented!
So far, only the extreme counter culture types have kicked up a fuss over this class of scented products. But suppose P&G started doing celebrity soap -- soap that some famous singer "personally" developed to clean her bathroom floor because all others made her sick? In a crowded (super)market isn't there the danger (opportunity!) that it would take off like a rocket and bring down all the other celebrities demanding THEIR own personal laundry detergents, toilet cleaners, etc.? Imagine J Lo, Beyonce, Victoria Beckham, each with their "personal" line of household cleansers, scented according to their taste and marketed with their image and approval.
The really funny things is that, to an extent, this has already happened in the counter culture world. Aren't the Tom's of Maine "alternative" products (now in your supermarket thanks to Colgate-Palmolive) an example?