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Profile: Creating Scent Connections

Alexendra Voigt

Laura Donna, Owner/Founder,,

While individual fragrance consultation isn’t an entirely new concept, it has been slow to catch on with those who may benefit most from its proliferation. To build a notable position today, fragrance marketers must look beyond standard advertising or marketing schemes to connect consumers to the art of fragrance creation. Highlighting the value and unique nature of their product must take precedence in order to appeal to consumers.

However, focusing on the uniqueness of any given fragrance requires a unique approach, and one option is individual fragrance consultation. No one believes this more than Laura Donna, who recently launched her own individual fragrance consultation business. The business recognizes the value of the fragrance industry, and does not focus on a particular niche or positioning—knowing that consumer wants and needs cut across these delineations and hinge on the personal connection between consumer and scent. Donna refers to herself as the interpreter, the guide and the coach, and works with consumers to identify both appropriate ready-to-wear and custom scents.

Letting people know this type of service exists is among the first challenges and is followed by those associated with fulfilling the immediate potential such a service has for consumers and the longer-term potential for an industry that finds real strength in forging tangible bonds between products and an established consumer base. “Am I the creator of a new breed of perfume lovers? Probably not. A creator of happier perfume users? Definitely,” Donna says.

Donna was motivated to venture into this relatively uncharted territory of the fragrance industry by a combination of the gap she saw between fragrance and consumer and her passion for perfume. “A fragrance is founded on the promise of individual pleasure, but marketed to a demographic. The only way to find out what smells good to an individual is to ask,” she explains.

Michael Edwards’ classification system—which describes general scent categories, the descriptors in those categories and then points to more specific categorical descriptors, along with fragrances that match—is referred to as a “point of departure” when creating a relationship with a client. Donna uses the information to establish individual scent preferences, scent history and the image the user of the scent wants to convey. She encourages clients to “dig deep” and share as much as possible: favorite scents, discontinued scents, favorite memories—any scent the client associates with pleasure. Donna notes, “There is logic in language that a fragrance coach may be able to decipher.” Upon discerning particular notes and characteristics, scents can be identified.

If a client is interested in custom fragrance, the initial process of establishing scent history is the same, with the added step of selecting a perfumer. “Most consumers don’t want to make a career of selecting a perfumer; they need someone who has done the sleuthing,” says Donna, who believes there is a perfume for every client, regardless of taste and means, but understands the process may be daunting for many. Options include natural and synthetic ingredients, scents based on abstract ideas, memories and tastes, for example. “The method of creation can vary from a single sitting with the scent crafted directly on the skin to a remote process featuring up to five distinct trials for a client’s consideration and feedback. It is an intimate and joyful experience,” she says.

Donna believes consumers want to make good choices when it comes to selecting a fragrance, but may become overwhelmed by the number of offerings. “In these times, consumers are eager to avoid a purchase that gathers dust on the dresser. The time for thoughtful, personal help with fragrance selection has come,” she says.

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