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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Talking to the Experts: The World of Fragrance Today and Tomorrow

The Fragrance Foundation hosted the inaugural Fragrance Forum “Taking to the Experts: The World of Fragrance Today and Tomorrow,” at the French Institute / Alliance Française on Thursday, October 15, 2015.

All images credited to Casey Kelbaugh

Allure Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Linda Wells, led distinguished panelists Daniel Annese, Global President, Aramis and Designer Fragrances at The Estée Lauder Companies; Alexandre Choueiri, President, International Designer Collections at L’Oréal USA; Linda Levy, Omni Group Vice-President/DMM-Fragrances at Macy’s, Inc.; and Jerry Vittoria, President, Fine Fragrances North America at fragrance house Firmenich, Inc., in a wide ranging discussion on the current state of the fragrance industry and how best to meet shifting consumer expectations.

While the discussion touched on millennials, the Latino customer, hits and misses, storytelling, the importance of the juice and more, the overarching message was the need to focus on the customer.

“Our biggest area of opportunity is the customer,” said Linda Levy, Omni Group Vice-President/DMM – Fragrances at Macy’s, Inc. “The customer is the focus and center of every decision that we make.”
All images credited to Casey Kelbaugh

“It’s not one size fits all anymore,” added Alexandre Choueiri, President, International Designer Collections at L’Oréal USA, “Customers want to feel special”
The men’s category is seen as an area with growth potential.

“There is a significant percentage of users in North America who only use fragrances that are gifted to them,” said Jerry Vittoria, President, Fine Fragrances North America at fragrance house Firmenich, of men. “We need effective training tools to educate the consumer.” 

Millennials continue to be a hot topic. 

According to Daniel Annese, Global President, Aramis and Designer Fragrances at The Estée Lauder Companies – which has set up an advisory board of 500 millennials - “The best way to connect with consumers is online.” “But,” he added, “They need consistency in what they see. The experience online and in print should match what they are greeted with in-store.”

 “What’s really different today is it’s all about the experience and it’s all about sharing,” added Linda Levy. “A review online means everything to a consumer.”

Choueiri challenged the panel not to think of it as a choice between online or brick-and-mortar. “We send samples out online,” he said, “but people are buying in-store.”
Fragrance Foundation President, Elizabeth Musmanno summed up the evening, “It is about the story, but it’s still about the juice. Ultimately, we need that juice to be fabulous.”

All images credited to Casey Kelbaugh

The Fragrance Forum series in an opportunity for the fragrance industry to come together around topics and discussions that have a direct impact on the business.

“Part of our mission at The Fragrance Foundation is to inform and enlighten,” Musmanno said, “We are honored to have had such a distinguished group of panelists join us, whose breadth of knowledge and insight allows us to dive deeply into the issues surrounding the industry today.”

During Thursday’s Fragrance Forum, the Fragrance Foundation continued the long tradition of the fragrance industry giving back, raising money to benefit UNICEF – The United Nations Children’s Fund, which provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in need.

6 comments:

  1. Wow, never has the been mass market perfume industry so obviously been a business of numbers. I mean the actual discussion of perfume itself does not actually enter the discussion, rather the juice comes off as a third thought. They wonder why the indie perfume industry has exploded, because these are the people trying to sell what is considered by many of us an intimate product.

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    1. Ain't that the truth. Niche became gigantic (and therefore ceased to be niche, really) because it replied to the need for feeling unique. Before the mass marketing of fragrances on the mainstream circuit women (and men) felt a special connection to their scent. It was appearing less frequently on the public eye and that helped create a myth. Nowadays the mass consumerism and the hundreds/thousands of fragrance editions/flankers/celeb scents have demystified fragrance. Niche leaped at that chance and served the story of superior juice too (which in several cases it was indeed superior, though in a different way than generally thought of; not better ingredients, they were mostly the same, but better calibration and more creative leeway).
      I think what you so wisely say, that perfume is an intimate product, is what is at the core of this issue.

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  2. Interesting that they seem to take online reviews seriously, unlike other members of the perfume industry.

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    1. Oh, assuredly they do, since online reviews do shape perception and buying desire to the public, it has been proven by market studies and numbers and these people are all about the numbers. (These are the companies who produce the juice and not the individual perfumers who do not have an interest in the final sales of their opus, the latter will always have a job since they work on briefs and those are offered in the hundreds). This is why the companies try to accost reviewers and cajole them. There have been outright paying job accusations too, though this is mostly about cosmetics rather than perfumes (perfume like hot air practically sells on its own, I suppose, going by that thinking).

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  3. “A review online means everything to a consumer.”
    “It is about the story, but it’s still about the juice. Ultimately, we need that juice to be fabulous.”
    That's it, we need more FABULOUS!!!!

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    1. I personally think that it's a delicate balance between jus-presentation-story. These need to mesh and click just right. The few among the thousands that really really do become modern classics: Angel, J'Adore, Tresor, Narciso...

      We definitely need more fabulous, but the definition is also co-dependant on what exactly we define as fabulous in the first place.

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