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The New Wave for Creative Fragrancing

By: Nancy C. Hayden
Posted: June 5, 2009, from the June 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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S.C. Johnson has also embraced a method of working with multiple fragrance houses. For years it has selected from a core list of suppliers, and often allows a wild card to be submitted on any given project. The company uses a number of criteria to judge a supplier wishing to be included on the list. Technical support, compatibilities and worldwide resources are important considerations.

Partnering to Achieve High Tech and Mutual Goals

However, partnering with one supply house to create a product is now becoming more common, as large consumer goods companies realize that they must rely on the technical expertise of the essential oil house with regard to new fragrance applications. Much research is going on to discover both new specialties and how to incorporate them into more functional products. Mane has partnered with Coty to develop Acqua Finish, a new cologne for the Oceans Nautica line using a patented technology from Dow Chemical utilizing a microemulsion system that helps solubilize the fragrance oil without the use of higher levels of alcohol—a big plus in this environmentally aware world. This technology is being used to enhance the ability of fragrance molecules to attach to skin, hair or fabric and give the fragrance a longer life on a medium. Frederic Jacques, vice president of fine fragrance and technology for Mane, feels that sharing resources with clients in a partnership agreement is a natural evolution. “It makes sense to have a natural outlet for the many years of research that our company commits to developing new materials and applications,” he says.

Partnering also occurs when an essential oil house brings a concept or even a personality name to a finished goods house to market a new signature fragrance and work exclusively with that house to develop the fragrance. Recently, Drom partnered with Bill Blass to create Couture 8 and tie in with the fashion house’s spring couture collection. Coty, too, has become a major proponent of partnering, evident in its numerous personality fragrance introductions.

As private label development grows to serve retailers looking to develop their own brands, a symbiotic relationship evolves. No time is wasted in weeding though various supplier submissions to single out potential candidates. The supplier knows that it will get the business, so a more concerted effort will be applied with perfumers and their evaluation staff to achieve what the retailers are seeking. Partnering enables much-needed streamlining and efficiency in a world where time and costs are part of the game, and this is growing in importance. Today’s microwave fragrance market does not often allow for the long creative process of yesteryear.

On the contrary side, the question is whether these type of arrangements limit the possibilities of the small entrepreneurial brand owners that does not quite have the volume of the larger manufacturer. It is still important for the major suppliers to pay attention to creative upstart companies. While some of the smaller independent fragrance houses have focused on these clients, they too are under pressure to conserve their resources. There still must be faith in the creative spirit and potential of the start-up company. After all, Estée Lauder got her start in fragrance with the faith and liaise of IFF. Who knows where the next innovative breakthrough will occur.