Scentsational

Friday, 23 January 2015

Having completed my first module, it's time to start work for the next one, "Creative Networks", which will eventually require us to create and market our own perfume. So, in preparation for this, we were asked to watch the BBC Four documentary series entitled 'Perfume'. The 3 part-series looked into marketing perfumes, the association between scent and memory and where the future of perfumery lies. 

In this day and age, all perfume houses are faced with the same dilemma, "How do we market a new perfume in the already crowded market and win over the new generation of consumers?" The documentary looks at two very different companies, Guerlain and Tommy Hilfiger,  and how they attempt to do this. It was particularly interesting to see the different approaches both brands take. For Guerlian, claimed to be "Frenchness in liquid form", it is all about the scent, as the company prefer to stick to the same archaic formulas passed down from generation to generation. 

This juxtaposes with Estee Lauder and their approach for Tommy Hilfiger, eager to create a 'new' fragrance in time for the Christmas period. For Tommy Hilger, the packaging and campaign are just as important as the scent - if not more. Hilfiger's new scent "Loud" claimed to be "liquid rock 'n' roll", exemplified in record like appearance and musical 'brand ambassadors' The Ting Tings, but not in its scent. "Loud" was essentially just a repackaged version of the masses of rose and patchouli scented perfumes already out there in the market. Nevertheless, the perfume was still extremely successful, contrasting to Guerlian and the ancient perfume houses who are losing their market share altogether within the industry.

Scent has the ability to transport you to certain periods, or even people, in your life - a notion which has always fascinated me. A spray of Vera Wang Princess and I instantly think of being thirteen again, a whiff of Chanel No. 5 and I immediately think of my grandmother. Within the series we were introduced to I Hate Perfume founder, Christopher Brosius, who found a niche in the market for people who, not only hate perfume, but want to be transported and reminded of familiarity - all through scent. Brosius can create everything from bacon scented to perfume to old books and even whisky. 

His service is undoubtedly self-indulgent, evident when he is commissioned to create a 'British-smelling' fragrance for his Anglo-obsessed client, wishing to bottle the scent of damp tweed and cigars. However, Brosius shows just how powerful scent is and how we associate them with memories, as well as highlighting how advanced the perfume industry is today - we can bottle any scent which we desire.  

In the final episode, the documentary focuses on the future of perfume and the growing markets outside of the West. Anne Gottlieb, leading scent trend predictor, stated that Brazil is the fastest growing fragrance market and is now the most valuable in the world, a notion I found extremely interesting. In Brazil, both the poor and rich are obsessed with fragrance; consumers in the poorest 50% of households consume almost as many fragrances as those in the richest 50% of households, meaning there is potential for both mass and premium fragrances to succeed in the market there. 

Overall, the documentary was an extremely interesting and intriguing watch and extremely helpful for my next project! 

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