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Scent Sleuth: Fragrance Empowers Private Label

By: Nancy C. Hayden
Posted: January 9, 2009

Private label branding has become a big business for many retailers. These retailers have seen the profit margins of major brands on their shelves and jumped at the opportunity to establish their own. To some degree, it is a copycat process. Retailers have an advantageous view of what attracts consumer spending, and private label houses are adept at creating products that meet retailers’ specifications.

Building a private label brand requires many involved steps. Packaging design, logos and displays are difficult enough, but selecting a formula that performs and contains the aesthetics of the name brand, falls into an acceptable cost parameter and captures longer-term consumer loyalty is the ultimate challenge. Fragrance can play a critical role in setting private label offerings apart and finalizing a sale.

The biggest turnoff to selecting a product often is an innappropriate, antiquated old hat fragrance type. Though fragrance is clearly not an area of expertise for many small manufacturers, and understandably so, it would behoove them to be able to offer their customers a selection of fragrance types created by fragrance houses. A history and stability in the symbiosis of formula and fragrance creates a more sound, one-stop shop for the retailer seeking a private label. Even if not intended as the final fragrance, an integration of fragrance and formula in the conceptual stage is ultimately beneficial for the sell. Soap and cosmetic bases, for example, benefit from certain fragrance formulas to cover noticeable off-notes.

And understanding fragrance/product type dynamics is important. Vanilla, amber and heavy woods, for example, work much better in candles and soaps than green floral or citrus notes. Herbal and spice notes are good for communicating a soothing effect, while citrus notes communicate cleansing. Therefore, it is advantageous to request a fragrance oil suited to a particular product from the fragrance supplier. Many essential oil houses will work with contract manufacturers—who often don’t know how to communicate the type of fragrance that they seek—and offer libraries of distinctive stable fragrances.

Case Studies

In the not-too-distant past, many products in the private label realm were anachronisms, but today’s retailers know that they can create their own brands with fashion statements and quality products that produce a better bottom line. Supplier creativity is continually being challenged, as is pricing, yet these demands are being met.