Shortly after my move from Givaudan to Chesebrough last year, I was asked to discuss my general impressions of the buyer-supplier relationship in the fragrance industry after having viewed this partnership from both ends. Under this guideline, there are a delightful number of controversial areas that I would like to discuss. However, once employed, personal impressions given publicly are often construed as corporate philosophies. So my observations won’t be as debatable as they perhaps could have been.
Fragrance oils are rather unique because, in contrast to other commodities which are exchanged between several buyers and suppliers on the basis of rigid specifications, the sale and purchase of an individual fragrance is between only two specific companies and because the transaction is made on the basis of creativity, images, and dreams. Due to this uniqueness, a successful fragrance is certainly a partnership between buyer and supplier.
Not only are fragrances purchased on a monopolistic basis, but traditionally the buyer has absolutely no idea of the actual contents of the oil. With the recent tightening of government controls on consumer products, the recent strengthening of consumer advocate groups, and the recent supply-price problems of 1974, many companies are seriously asking for the first time “Just what control do I have over my fragrance oils, which are the essential key to a multimilIion dollar business?”