To the average consumer, fragrance creation is a unique process veiled in an air of mystery. The alchemy of aroma and the emotions it evokes is intriguing, while the process of capturing these emotions in a bottle is utterly spellbinding. The abstract and elusive nature of scent enhances its aromatic allure and further fuels the consumer’s fascination.
Conversely, for the fragrance marketer, the “unknown” can too often lead to confusion, time and money. Fragrance creation from conception to inception is an intricate process, so the more a marketer knows, the more fluid, artistic and productive the process will be, culminating in a quality fragrance that resonates with their consumer. Knowledge equals success.
Here are a few facts about fragrance design that every marketer should know.
1. Every Fragrance Manufacturer Is Not Created Equal
Fragrance development originates with the supplier. Choosing the correct creative partner is the most important step in the entire process. Success hinges on working with the “right” manufacturer, as the right one will convey an understanding of the marketer’s vision, brand and consumer and will have all the viable creative and technical resources to bring their fragrance to market.
2. It’s All About The Brief
All fragrance creation begins with an idea, but an idea will remain only that if it cannot be put into words. The fragrance marketer’s initial brief should effectively outline all the important details of the product concept. In essence, it is a guide explaining who the fragrance should appeal to and why, the characteristics this fragrance should embody and the message it should convey (classy, sexy, etc.), where the fragrance will be sold, and who the target audience will be.
Identification of product form, color and any specific notes or benefits may also be included. Perfumers and Evaluators will use this information as a blueprint for the creation, so a well-written, thought-out brief is critical to the fragrance creation process.
3. Art + Science = Creativity
Perfumers are at the helm of fragrance creation. They are both artists and scientists using a combination of natural raw materials and synthetic aroma chemicals in the same way as painters use colors or musicians use notes. Like a beautiful symphony or a great painting, a memorable fragrance evolves from an artistic blend of sensory messages and emotional impressions. These highly trained perfumers take years to memorize thousands of olfactive profiles, first understanding each material in isolation and then its synergy or reactivity with other materials. They often rely on an extensive scent library for reference and inspiration.
When art and science come together, the potential for creating new fragrances is infinite.
4. Stick To The Story
Fragrance reinforces a brand story, olfactively connecting a product to its purpose. Therefore, all elements of the product – its fragrance, packaging, ingredients, benefits, story, and texture need to be consistent. This begins with the brief, but it ideally continues throughout the process.
The collaboration and communication between the manufacturer and the marketer is essential to ensuring that the project stays on point and true to the story.
5. Regulatory Is The Necessary Gatekeeper
Fragrance creation must focus on the tangible as well as the intangible. Specifically, the creation process must focus on producing a fragrance that is not only sensorily sublime, but perfectly sound as well. Regulatory checks ensures that each fragrance meets the specified safety requirements before it goes out the door and into the hands of the consumer.
6. Fragrances Must Pass the Smell Test
Perfumers formulate a series of different versions called modifications during the fragrance creation process. These “mods” are screened by the creative team on blotters (aka smelling strips) and then, most importantly, in use. Each version is evaluated for its character, strength, appeal, emotional impression and its overall fit to the direction set forth in the marketer’s initial specifications.
Perfumers will often go through multiple revisions before the fragrance sample is shown to the customer. Additional fine tuning is done between the marketer and the manufacturer during the development process.
7. The Whole Is Equal To The Sum Of Its Parts
Fragrance begins as an idea. To transform that idea into a scent which can successfully be brought to market takes the expertise and commitment of a seasoned manufacturer.
Manufacturers research and examine a host of natural raw materials and aroma chemicals in order to source only the highest-quality ingredients. The perfumers use these ingredients to formulate their creations. It is then up to production to manufacture and deliver that custom fragrance formula in an efficient and timely manner. A consistent, on-time shipment rate is an essential piece of the process.
There are no shortcuts to success in the world of fragrance design. Rather, it requires a dedication to quality and efficiency from everyone along the supply chain.
8. It Takes A Village
A myriad of notes must come together to create a fragrance and even more importantly, these notes must marry in such a way that they create the desired olfactory impression. Likewise, it takes a team of people coming together in a positive and productive way to make fragrance creation successful.
A team of perfumers, evaluators and marketers discuss all the creative aspects of the project including the concept, target consumer and overall emotional “feeling” and character of the creation. Perfumers choose ingredients that they feel best communicate the message and consider sources for these ingredients.
Their formula is mixed by the lab and then evaluated by the team and reviewed by regulatory. Once it is approved by the customer, it moves on to the production team. Successful fragrance creation is and will always be a team effort.