Perfumer POV: Fragrances for Troubled Times

In “The F&F Horizon: 2009 and Beyond,” a number of F&F experts discussed their views on the state and future of the industry from the vantage point of formulation to raw materials to the marketplace. (Perfumer & Flavorist magazine, January 2009, Page 45.) In this week’s edition of P&Fnow, we present the first of several extended commentaries from our panel of experts and industry voices.

Read previous insights here, and look for more expert opinions in the January 28 edition of the newsletter. Send us your feedback at [email protected].

The financial crisis will affect our everyday work, but not necessarily in the way we may think. There will be some negative consequences, but there could also be some positives.

The concept that less is more will be a positive [factor]. Manufacturers will offer less expensive and smaller sized versions of products in order to accommodate consumers during this time. Consumers are changing behaviors because of the crisis. They are analytical, more conscious about what they buy. They don't spend as they did in the past; they choose a product because they really need it, it's good for them, it’s good for the planet. Perfumery will have to adapt to this fact.

A negative consequence of the crisis will be that, on the raw material side, there will be less development of new chemicals because of the price of testing.

On the fine fragrance side, we have more and more launches every year. Many of them including flankers or reinterpretations. It seems logical that, due to the financial crisis, there will be fewer launches in the coming years, and that they will be more interesting.

The [financial downturn] could also affect the way we create fragrances. In times of crisis, people tend to go back to basics. If we examine the example of the 1929 depression (knowing it will not be the same this time), we went into the 1930s with darker fragrances that were rich and deep (Vol de Nuit and Taboo). We will probably go in the same direction again. If you have money to buy only one perfume, you want it to be luxurious and rich, but also darker because your mood is darker. There will probably be more parfums and extraits (as opposed to simple eau de toilettes) for the same reasons. Another factor that will increase in the coming years due to the financial crisis is hyper-luxury, with a surenchère of rare and precious fragrances featuring premium raw materials and flacons. This will be targeting some emerging areas such as Russia, India and the Asian markets, as well as others. This hyper-luxury is also present in cosmetics, and more generally in all consumer areas (fashion, food and jewelry).

Also on the creation side, we see more and more predominant green notes in both men's and women's perfumes. It also seems that overly gourmond fragrances are not so trendy anymore because they do not convey a luxurious image. Fragrances will become more opulent and sophisticated. They will include ingredients from aldehydes to spices, and warm woods to new varieties of woods to set emphasis on this important family: a cocoon with reassuring effect, which will intoxicate.

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