Direct-to-consumer darling Glossier has entered into its first major wholesale partnership with Nordstrom for a fragrance-focused holiday popup event. From December 3rd through February 16th, consumers can purchase the brand’s “Glossier You” fragrance in seven brick-and-mortar Nordstrom stores across the US.
Partnering with digitally-savvy brands is not a new strategy for Nordstrom. In the past, the retailer has teamed up with e-commerce upstarts such as Away, Allbirds, and Reformation. On Glossier’s part, the move into Nordstrom could be reflective of the challenges brands face in selling fragrance online. The challenge is particularly evident for younger brands given the replenishment-oriented shopping behavior in the category—according to Gartner L2 analysis of Google Ad Words data, among top volume Google search terms related to fragrance, 93% are branded. Digitally-native brands like Glossier may find it difficult to boost fragrance sales exclusively through online channels.
Even for department stores, total fragrance units purchased online from January to August 2019 are equivalent to only a tenth of color cosmetics purchases. However, fragrance may still represent a bright spot for department stores’ e-commerce business. Gartner L2 analysis of Rakuten Intelligence data shows that year over year online department store fragrance units sold are up 4%, whereas color cosmetics and skin care are down 4% and 8%, respectively. Still, while fragrance e-commerce opportunities are growing, the value of a brick-and-mortar presence cannot be overlooked, as Glossier founder and CEO, Emily Weiss, explains, “Fragrance is an extremely personal category—one that people understandably prefer to discover in person—and department stores are the largest channel for fragrance, making up nearly a quarter of all U.S. fragrance sales.”