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NEXT: Rethinking Fragrance in Product Development

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured, Editor
Posted: January 11, 2010

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“Consumers’ brains respond [to fragrance] before they even think about it,” says Reichard. “It’s an instinctive determination whether or not the fragrance of a product is correct. Therefore, we have to make sure we’ve included every parameter to ensure a positive instinctive response. Everyone knows when a product is fragranced badly—they don’t even have to think about why. Consumers will tell you 'it just isn’t what I expected.’ Fragrance must exceed the expectation of the customer established by the outside visuals and messages of the product.” Such a holistic approach can help avoid such jarring incongruencies as a watermelon-fragranced product presented in a blue bottle or a Cinnamon Toast candle in a brown shade so dark that it communicates burnt toast.

“Because of this model,” Reichard adds, “we’re very comfortable communicating with our customers which direction will be successful and when we think they’re going the wrong way.”

The Process

Arylessence’s fragrance program runs from planning through post-launch analysis and involves perfumers, evaluators, marketing staff and account managers working in concert with customers. When possible, clients share packaging and marketing language with perfumers to ensure a concrete concept of customer expectations. “This,” says Reichard, “is much more than a typical brief like ‘this lotion fragrance is for a woman between the ages of 25 and 50, promotes moisture, and should be reminiscent of a romantic tropical Caribbean night filled with lush blossoms amid a waterfall .’ What we provide [the team and the customer] is actionable demographic data on the competitive landscape and how the fragrance we’re producing will differentiate their new launch amid a sea of competitive products to set this particular product apart and create a lasting emotional bond. The fragrance supports every product attribute; it’s a totally different project.”

Private Label Expansion

Reichard notes that private labels, in addition to national brands, benefit from this systematic fragrance planning. The process helps them to create a framework avoiding “me-too” offerings and elevating store brands to be uniquely positioned products. “We do a lot of work with major retailers and grocery chains that are refining and enhancing their own private label brands to be destination brands,” she adds. “The opportunity in the United States is huge and major retailers are continuing to establish private label management programs,” She adds that these clients also need additional services beyond product development and positioning. Regulatory and consumer safety education in the private label sector is a crucial part of fragrance planning as these clients often lack the resources to stay on top of the latest developments in this area.