The expert panelists at The Fragrance Foundation’s recent “State of the Industry” lunch agreed that a full economic recovery is a long-term issue. First, to provide a broader context, Bloomberg Television anchor Deirdre Bolton presented video highlights from Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke and secretary of the US Treasury, Tim Geithner. Meanwhile, Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board, commented that although the recession technically ended in July or August, consumers do not feel that it is over. He predicted that the recession would not be fully over until 2015, mainly due to lack of jobs and the fact that consumers are putting significant money away a saving accounts—money saved is money not spent.
On the bright side, Susan Babinsky, senior vice president, consumer products, Kline Management Consulting & Marketing Research Group, noted that fragrance sales remained above the $5 billion mark. She added that, despite four consecutive years of negative sales growth, her company’s research has found that there are concepts that continue to work in the marketplace: tried and true, special, new, value, innovation, and experiental. Wendy Liebmann, co-founder and chief executive officer of WSL Strategic Retail, added that consumer spending habits have changed drastically due to the economy. “[T]hey don’t shop now for things they don’t need. There has to be an experience that goes along with the purchase. Whether that’s service, innovation or technology.”
Finally, Rochelle Bloom, president of The Fragrance Foundation, pointed out that the attendees, although geared for a tough fourth quarter, were reasonably optimistic that business would at least be flat.
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