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In a Wider Context

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: August 26, 2013, from the September 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

Last spring, our IT department purchased an iPad and a bluetooth keyboard for me. I love it and have become a bit of a note-taking junkie (I could have really used these devices in school). But now I’ve created a logjam of conversations, interviews, ideas and insights I want to share with you. And although GCI’s Facebook page is great for sharing short pieces as they occur and the Go! section [available in the print edition] is ideal for publishing short thought pieces, neither have seemed appropriate for simply allowing industry leaders’ voices, beyond a short quote, to stand on their own. To that end, I’m using this space, when and as appropriate, to share these voices.

“[For today’s consumer] there is a new role for beauty,” Fabio Franchina, president, Cosmetics Europe, told me at the association’s General Assembly 2013 in June. “Often we think about beauty—even when thinking about beauty along with well-being—without considering its greater social role. If you feel great, you [function better in society].”

“The theme of this assembly—Personal Care: An Essential Component of Living—was chosen to address the fact that this industry is deeply relevant to society,” said Bertil Heerink, director-general, Cosmetics Europe, noting that consumers are raising their expectations of how the industry functions within society, beyond the products it provides—i.e., its awareness and response to consumers’ broader ethical and social expectations.

“The consumer agenda is a very outspoken agenda,” said Heerink. “It’s important to say we care and deliver; that we insist on meeting and answering the expectations. How can this industry best ensure it meets consumer expectations in terms of safety, as well as remain a viable and economically sound industry? [Cosmetics Europe] needs to work closely with other regulatory and advocacy agencies across the globe [to] harmonize [efforts]. At the same time, we want to make sure policies on innovation and economic development go hand-in-hand with harmonization.”

Franchina added, “In terms of innovation, changes are often minor but they are important as they are more and more driven by the consumer and the needs of the consumer. And as an industry, our major advantage is the close link to consumers. Providing more innovation is among the keys to ongoing growth in these times when many consumers have less to spend.”

“This industry is not simply a technically driven entity—it is part of society,” said Heerink. “It puts products on shelves to serve consumers. And [consumers expect us] to lead by example.”

Letter to the Editor: In Response to The Future of Cosmetics—There's an App for That

The International Fragrance Association, North America (IFRA North America) is the principal trade association representing the interests of the U.S. fragrance industry. Our members create fragrances for personal care, home care, industrial and institutional use, as well as home design products.

Our industry believes that the intellectual property (IP) of perfumers and fragrance houses should be protected. These very protections drive innovation and investment in fragrance technologies and protect jobs within our industry. In turn, these technologies are used to manufacture popular consumer products and allow our customers and the fragrance houses to stay competitive globally. Since patents are not a practical means to protect fragrance formulations, the formulas are protected under the trade secrets provision of the law.

Mr. Herman, in his “Chemical Reaction” column in the July/August issue of GCI, shares with your readers a factually incorrect assumption.

Mr. Herman and others often advocate full disclosure of fragrance formulas based on the premise that reverse engineering of such formulas using modern equipment provides full information about the composition. This is simply not accurate. It is true that scents follow popular trends and many fragrances on the market resemble other successful fragrances in their olfactory composition. It is also true that technologies are available today to perfumers to learn a great deal about competing scents. However, this technology does not reveal the entire composition, nor does it allow others to reverse engineer an exact replica of such formula. For example, the equipment currently in use cannot identify specific naturals or distinguish which natural oils contributed certain constituents to the scent. Moreover, it is often an unattainable portion of the fragrance formula that makes a particular scent unique.

Before any scent comes to the market, fragrance houses invest enormous resources in its development. Perfumers’ creativity, raw materials stewardship, R&D in new molecules, safety and functionality testing, consumer preferences research and more go into making a successful scent. Without formula protection, all this expertise and investment becomes free for those in copy-cat businesses.

Therefore, we strongly believe that IP protection is critical for our perfumers to continue to innovate and design popular and unique scents for our customers’ brands and, ultimately, for the consumers who love them.

Jennifer Abril
President
IFRA North America