Following a circus-themed opening ceremony on June 5, the 2007 World Perfumery Congress (WPC) got under way Tuesday, June 6, tackling the key issues facing perfume today—a glut of launches, increasing legislation and a boom for naturals.
WPC head Jean-Pierre Subrenat pointed out that while the United States saw 226 fine fragrance launches in 2004, the country saw an even more astounding 365 just two years later. Meanwhile, the impact of REACH legislation and further mergers and acquisitions distract the industry from what Subrenat called "the number one purpose of perfume": pleasure. With this in mind, he said that fragrance's future may be viewed through an optimistic lens.
Francis Thibadeau then discussed the need to "seduce the consumer" and the negative effects of what he called excessive caution on the part of perfumers. Jean-Pierre Leleux, mayor of modern perfumery's birthplace, Grasse, suggested that naturals might provide the needed inspiration for consumers. Not only has the region committed to fair trade, Leleux added that sustainability and alternatives to animal testing.
Next, Estée Lauder's Daniel Annese discussed the future of fragrance, including feminine woods and masculine florals, while Givaudan's Gilles Andrier warned of product-zapping consumers hungry for innovation and newness—a plague that is affecting other product categories in addition to fine fragrances.
O Boticario's Miguel Krigsner his company's enfleurage method and its respect for the environment. Later, Christophe Maubert cautioned that essential oils and absolutes could be endangered by overzealous public concern over "chemicals." Sumit Bhasin of P&G chimed in with ideas for protecting fragrance intellectual property—novel time-release technology.
In a rousing turn, drom's Ferdinand Storp insisted that consumer testing kills creativity and wondered aloud why perfumers aren't as famous as chefs. Why aren't there any shows on TV about perfumers? Then ELLE magazine's Fabienne Antoniewski discussed writing about perfumes, noting that good fragrance descriptions elevate scents above the trivial world of consumption.
Nicolas Mirzayantz of IFF noted that scent is key because it fulfills brand promise and can even be used to help medical patients recover lost memories. Finally, Avon's Claudia Poccia boiled down perfume's recipe for success as: engaging + addictive + timeless + profitability.
Following the talks, attendees flooded the exhibition hall to take a look at the latest the industry has to offer.