State of the Art: ASP’s Fragrance Symposium

A spirited panel during the 53rd Annual Symposium of the American Society of Perfumers reflected on creativity in today’s perfumery in light of pricing pressure, excessive launches and competition from other goods categories such as mp3 players. Ruth Sutcliffe (Coty) encouraged perfumers to dream, fantasize and proactively present demo fragrances: “Show me your passion.”

Meanwhile, Trudi Loren (The Estée Lauder Companies) highlighted the relationship between price pressures and quality fragrance creation. Shaving prices on scents, she said, could often spur a perfumer’s creation—a sort of “necessity is the mother of invention” philosophy. Scott Frame (Procter & Gamble) chimed in, reminding the fragrance community that cost issues will not be going away. Maura Utley (MVP Group International) explained that the decline of the candle category has actually made creativity more important.

Of course there were divergent voices on a number of issues, including the effects of speed-to-market on perfumery. Yves Calderone (Beauty Avenues) felt that a lasting scent cannot be created in six weeks, though Sutcliffe disagreed. But all panelists appeared to agree that for any fragrance company to survive the age of mergers and acquisitions it must focus first on what it does best as opposed to trying to be all things to all people.

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