There’s no shortage of ideas being backed when it comes to direct-to-consumer e-commerce companies that are cultivating their own brands. We’ve seen everything from slippers to toothbrushes to, perhaps most famously, razor blades.
Among the newer frontiers being funded right now: ingredient-conscious perfumes. For example, the New York-based, venture-backed cosmetics company Glossier began marketing a proprietary perfume called You last October that’s designed to change in character depending on the wearer. (“You” complete the product, it says.)
Late last year, an L.A.-based called Skylar that uses only natural ingredients also attracted venture funding: $3 million from Upfront Ventures and serial entrepreneur Brian Lee, who also founded The Honest Company. (Skylar’s founder previously worked at Honest.)
Now another new entrant, Austin, Tex.-based Phlur, appears to be shaking the trees for venture capital. The company — which was launched publicly less than two years ago by Eric Korman, a former president of global e-commerce for Ralph Lauren — is targeting up to $8 million in venture funding, according to an SEC filing that shows it has raised at least $2.4 million toward that end. Among its backers is local venture firm Next Coast Ventures.
The money follows $6 million that Phlur has already raised, including from Next Coast, for what it describes as scents for both men and women that are made with “responsibly sourced” ingredients.
Its packaging is also environmentally friendly, it says; it’s made with 20 percent recycled glass.
We reached out to Korman yesterday to learn more and we’ll update this post if we hear back. But certainly, it’s easy to understand why consumers might appreciate companies that promise that they needn’t visit a fragrance counter ever again.
It’s easy to appreciate investor enthusiasm for perfumes, too. Three giants — L’Oréal Groupe, Coty, and Estée Lauder — still make up the bulk of fragrance sales, and millennials are looking for new options that don’t necessarily remind them of their parents. There’s been a spate of M&A in the beauty sector — and not yet in the fragrance sector, meaning there’s still opportunity there. Not last, the beauty industry is a very big business, with one estimate projecting the global fragrance market alone will be worth about $92 billion by 2024.
These new brands are simply playing into a years-long trend of consumers caring much more about everything that touches them, from their food to their house-cleaning products. As startups provide them with more transparency into how fragrances are made — and at far less cost than companies that pay for counter space at retail stores — expect to see many more next-gen fragrances, as well.