#PerfumeTok is turning niche fragrances into the ultimate status symbol

By Amanda Pauley | Published: 20-Feb-2023

Gen Z are investing heavily in indie fragrances thanks to a new wave of TikTok content which makes these lesser known scents ‘cool’. We explore how the hashtag is disrupting the perfume market

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Ask a stranger nowadays what perfume they are wearing and more often than not the reply will be an indie brand, followed by the statement, ‘TikTok made me buy it’. 

#PerfumeTok, the platform’s dedicated fragrance hashtag, has completely disrupted the category over the past 18 months, giving many niche scents cult-like status. 

Perfume fans in their droves have invested in lesser known scents simply off the back of organic reviews from TikTok’s many fragrance-ophiles.

As it stands, #PerfumeTok has garnered 2.3 billion views, while its sister hashtag #FragranceTikTok has 1.1 billion.

As a category that traditionally relies on olfactory receptors to attract consumers into buying, you would think the lack of smell-a-vision would be a real barrier in turning passive watching into active purchasing. 

There is a certain thrill for consumers when it comes to finding a smaller brand they identify with and wearing it as a means of self-expression – Larissa Jensen, Beauty Industry Advisor at The NPD Group

Yet, Generation Z are more than happy to move away from traditional in-store scent discovery and make choices based on video content that decodes the perfume’s notes or explains the mood/feeling it creates. 

“The hashtag is serving up this discovery moment which equips the consumer with the tools to understand fragrance on a deeper level, which we have not seen on other platforms,” explains Antonia Baildam, TikTok’s Head of Beauty. 

“It takes just one piece of content to create that groundswell around a particular brand.

“It has allowed smaller, lesser known brands to become really mainstream.” 

As a result, #PerfumeTok has caused many niche scents such as Phlur’s Missing Person – which has 51.4 million TikTok views – to sell out overnight.

The fragrance, dubbed ‘the rich girl's perfume', amassed a 200,000 waiting list in 2022 and has even been resold online for three times its price. 

The hard to find nature, of course, only makes these fragrances even more desirable. 

But, how does an indie fragrance achieve such status and what impact will this buying behaviour have on the industry in the long term? 

The popularity of Phlur’s Missing Person fragrance led to a 200,000 waiting list in 2022

The popularity of Phlur’s Missing Person fragrance led to a 200,000 waiting list in 2022

A different kind of storytelling

#PerfumeTok has changed the way consumers think about, and engage with, new fragrances before purchasing – and its impact shows no signs of slowing down. 

TikTok currently accounts for 45% of all social media-driven fragrance purchases in the US, according to market analyst The NPD Group’s 2022 Fragrance Consumer Report.

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