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A fresh start: Molinard attempts win over Japan again with a lighter touch

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Molinard is approaching the Japanese market for the second time. ©Molinard
Molinard is approaching the Japanese market for the second time. ©Molinard

Related tags Fragrance France Japan

French perfume house Molinard is approaching the Japanese market for the second time with a range of fresh fragrances it believes will appeal more to local consumers.

Founded in Grasse in 1849, Molinard is considered one of the oldest family-run businesses in perfumery.

It is credited for creating iconic perfumes such as Habanita and pioneering the use of solid perfumes.

The company first entered the Japanese market 10 years ago but could not solidify its position in the market because it could not cater to the specific needs of Japanese consumers.

“At that time, we weren’t even present in the women’s category because our fragrances were too strong for the Japanese,” ​Laila Moumen, export development manager, Molinard.

In recent years, the company has been expanding its business into Asian counties such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

As one of the most important markets in Asia, the company did not want to leave Japan out of the equation.

“The Japanese market is a dynamic one. Things are changing with the millennial generation; they want to perfume themselves and be a part of that perfume culture. There’s a lot of education need to be done about perfume and we would like to be a part of it,” ​said Moumen.

Second time’s the charm

While perfume preferences in Asia have become more sophisticated, the company believes the majority of Japanese consumers are still not ready for its iconic strong perfumes.

Instead, it plans to target consumers with a range of fresh fragrances from its latest range, La Collection Matière.

“This time, we have a range of lighter fragrances which we believe will do well in the market. These are fresher and better suited to the Japanese market,” ​said Moumen.

Moumen explained that these unisex perfumes – Thé Basilic, Citrus Noir, Gingembre and Méditerranée – which feature ingredients such as ginger, tea leaves and calamansi lime.

These fragrances were developed personally by Célia Lerouge-Bénard, the fifth-generation leader of Molinard.

Moumen explained that the line was the distilled experiences of Lerouge-Bénard’s travels around Asia to countries such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka in search of new raw materials.

Rise of niche

While the business in Asia is still relatively small, Moumen said it would be a big focus for the company and key to its future growth.

“At the moment, the business is still small in Asia, but we hope to grow it. It’s our target. After Japan,we are looking at China and India. We are currently having discussions on that side and we hope to enter those markets soon.”

The company believes the time is ripe for the company to strengthen its foothold in Asia as there is a demand for niched fragrances in the Asian market.

“Today’s Asian consumer doesn’t want to smell like everybody else. They want to express their individuality with perfume; that’s why the niche segment has been growing. Small companies like us are important as we offer an alternative to the consumer.”

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