Top selling women’s fragrances 2013

J'Adore and Coco Mademoiselle adverts

Some general news about the health of the fragrance industry: the French fragrance market declined slightly in 2013. In the UK and US, fragrance sales were up, but only very slightly for women, a bit more for men (a 5% bump). Here are the top selling women's fragrances:


1. Christian Dior J'Adore
2. Lancome La Vie Est Belle
3. Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire
4. Chanel No. 5
5. Thierry Mugler Angel
6. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle
7. Kenzo Flower
8. Guerlain Shalimar
9. Christian Dior Miss Dior
10. Paco Rabanne Lady Million

The top selling new launches for 2013 were Giorgio Armani Si (in the 28th place overall) and Repetto by Repetto (42nd place).


1. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle
2. Chanel No. 5
3. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue
4. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb
5. Estee Lauder Beautiful

The top selling new women's launch for the US and UK was See by Chloé.

(All sales figures are from NPD Group, via various news outlets)

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  1. Lucy says:

    I’m happily surprised to see Beautiful on the US list. I would have guessed it to be too sophisticated for mass appeal.

    • Robin says:

      It’s hung on in the top 5 for years now, in the US at least. I think it’s still a big wedding favorite.

      • Lucy says:

        That makes sense. It is perfect for weddings. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I did buy the bar soap set at Christmas. It is one of the best purchases I have made.

  2. scentfromabove says:

    I would have thought that the US favorites would be the ones that were favorites in France. I am surprised by”Beautiful” being the scent that was chosen for Estee Lauder. My guess would have been “Modern Muse” or something else. But, I am being bias. Just because I like a certain scent doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else does. Thanks for the article. It was very informative.

    • Robin says:

      It’s pretty rare that a brand new fragrance gets in the top 10…so in that sense would not expect to see Modern Muse.

      I’m surprised at how high La Vie Est Belle went in a year, and that Chanel No. 5 has finally fallen out of the top 3 in France.

  3. Marjorie Rose says:

    Very interesting. I can’t help but notice that most best sellers are also very heavily advertised–which I guess isn’t news, but for a product in which little of its actual self can be *shown* but rather must be *experienced*, it still surprises me a bit that advertising is so successful. Goes back to the notion of backstories and such, though, I suppose. We want to be told a story to pique our interest–no matter how beautiful the fragrance is, we benefit from being told how to think about it, at least to some extent.

    • Robin says:

      It’s true, but also true that many scents that are heavily advertised fail anyway! And another way to look at it is that these brands continue to invest in these scents because they *do* sell, and obviously they stop when it is no longer justified by sales. So it’s at least a bit circular.

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        Yes, clearly they won’t spend the money on scents that are languishing on the shelves, but few of these are really remarkable–most are just safe crowd-pleasers and probably wouldn’t turn heads if there wasn’t Julia Roberts to tell us about it and aspire to.

        I wonder if something complex and unusual were advertised as heavily as these, would they could create demand for such scents?

        • Robin says:

          Truly don’t think so. Lancome sunk tons of money into the one thing they made recently that I liked…Magnifique. No dice.

          • Marjorie Rose says:

            Too bad! So, if it isn’t the advertising that is directing people’s tastes, I wonder what it is? Why did we switch from the big-hair-big-fragrance 80’s/90’s to the clean-inoffensive-“office-friendly” of today? Did women entering the workforce want to make a statement 30 years ago and now they just don’t want to cause too much trouble? I wonder if we’re more focussed on blending-in in general now. . . ?

          • Merlin says:

            The way some theorists explain the 80s-90s shift is that the large-shoulder-pad 80s scents (eg. opium) were so deliberately obnoxious and invasive that it spawned the 90s trend for minimalism (eg. Issey Miyake). After getting in every ones face for a decade, people became more concerned and considerate about other peoples space – and thus the lack of 90s sillage. I’m not sur how to generalize about today’s favorites – Angel, for instance, is not really office friendly, neither is Coco M or Flowerbomb.

            Personally I don’t even find all of these ‘easy’!

          • Robin says:

            True! And Shalimar is still hanging in there.

          • Marjorie Rose says:

            Merlin, yes I was aware in making my generalizations that especially Angel did not fit the trend! However, it comes from a *bigger* time that to me is mostly gone in mainstream fragrance. Is Flowerbomb readily noticeable to you? I feel like it disappeared pretty quickly when I tested it. (Although, I also found it pretty forgettable, so I may be misremembering!)

          • Marjorie Rose says:

            Oh, but Robin! Shalimar today is so much safer than it used to be! I get vanilla and lemon in the newer incarnation–no barnyard at all!

          • Merlin says:

            Well, I guess I need to try Flowerbomb again!

            Yeterday I was out and tested Tabu on one finger. I found it repellant and washed it off several times with soap in the bathroom. I also tried Viva la Juicy – several sprays. I really like Viva – but it has no projection at all on me, its like a skin scent. All day I was desperately searching my arm (with my nose) for a hint of Viva, while Tabu-after-scrub actually continued to be pungent and became quite pleasant!

            So, I guess you are right – todays scents are weak in sillage and longevity; but at the same time I don’t think the scents that made the list are deliberately the type of non-scents that were so rife in the 90s and which some niche houses still produce…

        • Robin says:

          That’s true too.

  4. Carolyn says:

    Oh dear, I hope I haven’t contributed to the UK sales figures only having a slight increase! I’m joking, but I gave up my full time job almost 2 years ago, & have had 2 short term, part time positions since, & am now pretty much fully retired, spend most days at home so hardly wear perfume at all! I’m about a quarter of the way through a (large) bottle of Penhaligon’s Bluebell & have an unopened bottle of Trish McEvoy’s Snowdrop & Crystal Flower which I bough in a tiny Neiman Marcus branch in Fort Worth in May 2012! So with 2 US trips scheduled this year I need to find something to do outwith my home so I can justify new purchases…

    • Robin says:

      I really haven’t done my part for the US here either! To make it fair I guess I should go to the UK & buy there ;-)

  5. kaos.geo says:

    J’Adore has turned out to be quite the cash cow for Dior!
    selling strong since 1999! They should do a 15 year anniversary bottle!

    • kaos.geo says:

      And also having Charlize Theron as the face of the frag doesnt hurt a bit…. talk about winning the genetic lottery. she must have club feet or halitosis or sumthin… else I don’t think she is a real person, more like a japanese idoru…LOL

    • Robin says:

      Amazing how well it’s done, yes!

    • I feel cheated when it comes to J’Adore. I loved the sample but when I actually purchased a bottle, the formula had changed dramatically and it is unwearable to me now. The sample was a much older version apparently. One of the flankers they did came close to recreating the original but it’s disappeared now. It’s a shame. With all the money they have made on it, you would think they would actually put some of that moolah back into the fragrance itself.

      • kaos.geo says:

        Tell that to Miss Dior, Fuddy Duddy! that one is not even REMOTELY the same as the original, product of what I think is a terrible bait-and-switch from Dior.

        And if the new european regulations come to be in the next few years, we’ll be all spraying diluted kool-aid soon :-(

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