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Scent Sleuth: The Fragrance Dilemma

By: Nancy C. Hayden
Posted: April 2, 2007
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In years past, when the fragrance industry was personality driven and there was abundant time and money to spend on new product development, unlimited energies were applied to developing a single creative fragrance benchmark, leaving markedly less to line extensions. But it is a different world, and the dilemma for fragrance supply houses today is the enormous number of requests received not only for designer perfume launches, but the myriad toiletry, bath and body, environmental and household products requiring the addition of a perfume oil to be complete.

Brand owners are facing their own fragrance dilemma. With the numerous consolidations, mergers and buyouts occurring there are fewer suppliers from which to request submissions. Major oil houses have become more selective about who they will work with. Suppliers evaluate whether or not they will do business with a client based on potential poundage of oil, profit margin, creative effort and lab time involved. Bath and body lines can be more difficult and time consuming because of the enormous compatibility problems with a variety of bases with lower percentages of oil usage.

The prestige of the marketer is another enticement for establishing a business relationship. The large finished goods companies tend to have a monopoly on the major fragrance houses, often producing trends with some of the specialty products while giving new twists and innovation to fragrance types.

So, how does a new company compete for the creative services of a major fragrance house?  The answer is: with great difficulty. In the closed industry of perfumery it often takes a little homework and networking to find the right partner and get to the right salesperson to request submissions.

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