Saudi Arabia has one of the highest per capita consumptions of fragrances in the world, a status that attracts top international perfumers to the discerning clients found in the kingdom.
One of the largest attempts to introduce the Saudi nationals and residents to Western perfumes has been the formation of the International Group of Luxury Fragrances (IGLF), a conglomerate of Western perfumers, retailers, distributors, perfume experts and other relevant parties with the aim of better familiarising clients in the kingdom with Western fragrances.
Patrick Chalhoub is the chief executive officer at Chalhoub Group, a leading distributor of luxury goods in the Middle East and a long-standing partner of many international luxury brands. He speaks to Aficionado about the formation of the IGLF, which also involved a mission Chalhoub Group set for itself.
“In line with our aim to support our partner brands in the region, we took a commitment of growing the market of Western fragrances by 30 to 35 per cent over the coming five years and are actively supporting it,” Chalhoub said.
According to the top luxury distribution executive, the mission was to “increase the consumption of fragrances in Saudi Arabia and enrich the olfactory experience with a deeper understanding with international fragrances.”
“We want the consumers to be closer to the possibilities of Western fragrances. The variety within Western fragrances allows them to change their perfumes depending on the occasion and their mood,” Chalhoub adds.
While the customers located within Saudi Arabia are already quite sophisticated and knowledgeable about brands, Patrick stated that only “forty-five per cent of perfumes used and sold are Western Fragrances”. Hence, this form of an objective network combining Western brands and local partners was necessary to further push their potential inside the kingdom.
“We saw the need to involve all related parties, such as retailers, brands, distributors, mall developers and, of course, perfumery experts and consultants,” Chalhoub said.
When it was first launched last September, the IGLF kick-started a campaign titled “Your Fragrance… Your Presence”, which aimed to educate and engage customers in Saudi Arabia with the different notes, aspects and other information related to Western fragrances. This year, there will be another campaign.
“We want to send the message that wearing a perfume is like wearing an outfit; it depends on your mood and the occasions.
“They can also layer it with another Oriental fragrance base and more,” Chalhoub explained, referring to “layering”, a method of wearing perfume that is common in the GCC, where two or more different scents are sprayed or applied on the user, one after the other, to create a distinctive, unique scent.
More and more Western perfumes are increasingly introducing oud to their creations, enjoying a high status in Saudi Arabia and the overall GCC region.
“Brands have realised that they need to cater to the needs of the GCC consumers, visiting their countries and have a high purchasing power,” Chalhoub said, adding that these oriental fragrances are also starting to attract the Western consumer.
Looking at the future, Patrick Chalhoub forecasts “fragrances to remain the strongest category in the Saudi market for years to come… the faster growth of makeup, gaining popularity and growing at ten to 11 per cent year on year”.