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Survival, Love and Food: Cracking the “Perfume Code”

Posted: June 19, 2008, from the July 2008 issue of P&F magazine.

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  • July 2008 issue, pg. 24—5 pages
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The head of the program, Syed Shamil (director of innovation marketing, fine fragrance), is a PhD whose background is in the flavor side of the business. Fragrance houses have long been employing food notes in fragrances. So how is this program different? “Many times, when the fragrance description talks about a food note, it’s not using a flavor,” says Shamil. “It’s an abstract interpretation of a food note. Our work includes a real flavor that has been adapted for perfumery use.” Because of the collaboration with flavorists, he says, these scents incorporate all dimensions of flavor: taste, smell and texture.

Origins of Smell the Taste

The fragrance industry has struggled in recent years, suffering from an excess of launches (~600 per year), lack of consumer motivation and blurring of product categories. In response, Firmenich sought a new way to inspire creativity, to “create products that touch the consumer instinctually and intimately.” Debra Butler, vice president of creative marketing, worked closely with the well-known anthropologist/psychologist turned marketing guru Clotaire Rapailleb (Archetype Discovery Worldwide) to uncover the unconscious mind and, as Shamil puts it, “reveal the hidden instinctual and emotional drivers of fragrance attitudes.”

How do humans appreciate fragrances? Working with Rapaille, the team used archetype discovery methodology to dig beneath rational and logical layers of human thinking, which they felt didn’t represent true drivers of human behavior. The goal: find the “most primitive and compelaSmell the Taste is a trademark of Firmenich. Rapaille is perhaps best known as an instrumental figure on the team behind the development of Chrysler’s PT Cruiser. ling behaviors related to perfume.”

Rapaille posits three separate “brains” within the human mind, known as the “triune brain theory,” first advanced by neurologist Paul MacLean.c According to this theory each brain has a unique function and need.

Other topics discussed: New Tools for Perfumery, Collaborations with Flavorists, Beyond Traditional Flavors, Marshmallow to Rhubarb: Flavorist-Perfumer Engineered Fragrances

This is only an excerpt of the full article that appeared in P&F Magazine, but you can purchase the full-text version.