Pour le Monde is pioneering a path for the mainstreaming of natural perfumes by launching on macys.com. In a sea of fragrances filled with dazzling designer and celebrity names, the brand's three offerings certified by the Natural Products Association — Envision, Empower and Together — provide alternatives for wellness-minded shoppers. Priced at $82 each, they avoid petrochemicals, phthalates, artificial dyes and synthetic fragrance compounds in favor of pure essential oils and isolates, grain alcohol and distilled water.
"We are one of the only clean fragrance brands doing what we are doing, but we need retail partners to quote-unquote get it, and that's what Macy's did. They truly understand what Pour le Monde is all about, and how it can bring unique customers to their web site," said Wendi Berger, founder and president of Pour le Monde. "What it means for us is tremendous visibility. I think aligning ourselves with Macy's is really going to make consumers more aware that a certified 100 percent natural fragrance can exist."
The entrance of Pour le Monde into Macy's online fragrance selection doesn't suggest a deep strategic shift in the green direction for the department store retailer, but does indicate it's responding to rising health consciousness on the part of its customers. It's already sprinkled its beauty repertoire with brands positioned as natural or nontoxic such as Lavanila Laboratories, Tarte and Burt's Bees.
"We have an initiative at Macy's focused on wellness. You can see juice bars and yoga outfits in many of our stores, and there is definitely a consumer trend that Macy's has identified, so I think the timing of it is very good," said Linda Levy, group vice president and divisional merchandise manager of fragrances at Macy's. "It could be the beginning of a small category for us. I never think it would be the dominant category."
Above simply a natural play, Pour le Monde's arrival demonstrates Macy's intension to infuse its fragrance assortment with newness. "Going forward with our overall fragrance portfolio, I feel we are going to reach more men and women with the introductions of brands going after the Millennial customer and a customer that has a great interest in wellness. It adds to our portfolio in a unique way," said Levy. "We are a dominant force in the fragrance world with the biggest variety, but we are always interested in adjusting our portfolio based on how the population and consumers are changing."
Although natural products have penetrated all beauty categories, department store and mass-market retailers and consumers have been slower to embrace fragrances sans synthetics than eco-chic substitutes in several other areas of beauty departments. Natural scents tend to veer far from the typical fragrance fare and don't seem to have provoked shifts in purchasing behavior to the extent of synthetic-free skin care and makeup.
Recognizing the uphill battle natural perfume purveyors have waged, Berger, who formerly worked in magazine publishing with stints at New York, InStyle, Elle, Fitness, Child and Vanity Fair, designed Pour le Monde's eau de parfum sprays for broad appeal. Sales are evenly distributed across the brand's three scents. Purchases of the vegan perfumes benefit the organizations Cancer Support Community, Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"We don't smell like an earthy and grassy natural fragrance. We smell like a conventional fragrance, and the consumer doesn't have to sacrifice," said Berger. "We have seen the market grow exponentially for green beauty, and consumers are much more aware of ingredients. I do believe Macy's has that audience because they are the world's largest department store, and they have something for everyone."
Pour le Monde's fragrances were created to evoke different moods. Berger described Envision as a bold and seductive statement-making choice, Empower as a sporty and refreshing pick-me-up and Together as a classic daytime scent. Empower and Envision are unisex options.
"I based them on moods because I never wore just one fragrance. I had a fragrance for everything and every occasion," said Berger. "Millennials also don't wear one fragrance. They like to mix it up."
Macy's will be embarking on a promotional push to raise awareness of Pour le Monde among its customers, and Levy pointed out the retailer will be scouring e-commerce data on sales of its fragrances to determine how to help properly market the brand. "We will be able to identify who the consumer is in terms of geography, age and what else she is buying at Macy's. By studying this information, we will know who is really going for this and then we can send them emails or go into the right stores with special events," she said. "You can know where, how, when and why this will be successful."