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The Sweet Smell of Your Brand’s Success

By: Abby Penning
Posted: January 19, 2011, from the January 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

Increasingly, every element of a beauty product is being scrutinized by and personalized for consumers. From the packaging to the texture of a product, people are becoming more and more choosy about the brands they decide to bestow their loyalty upon, and one of the things that can inspire the most positive associations between a brand and its targeted consumer is its scent. “Fragrance can be as, if not more important than, a brand’s logo,” says Michael Overstreet, Expedite Services Inc. and Fragrance Design LLC. “Vision is people’s most relied-upon sense, but scent often scores a much greater emotional impact. When a woman is scanning the shelves for a new shampoo, she may pick one out because she likes the logo, but, more often than not, the second thing she does is pop open the top so she can smell the product inside. And if she likes it, it is probably going into her cart.”

The power of scent crosses age ranges and genders, with consumers always feeling more drawn to a product they think smells good. For the Unilever Axe brand, scent is a key differentiator, something that really separates the bath and body range from its competition. For the various Axe products, the company bases its scent designs and uses in body sprays and bath and deodorant items on consumer research and scientific innovation, taking into special consideration the strong connection between scent and attraction.

Overstreet also cites the continuing development of science as assisting in the creation of more finely tuned scents. “Neurologically, scent is tied very closely to the memory, so brands are looking to include scents that invoke positive memories for consumers and take us back to pleasant experiences via that fragrance,” he says. Consequently, the closer a product can align itself with consumers’ happy memories, the more likely they are to keep coming back for that particular item—and maybe more of the brand’s range of products.

“The idea is to differentiate the fragrance from all the other launches out there,” notes Théo E. Spilka, vice president of new business development and licensing worldwide with Firmenich. He explains that it’s about offering the consumer the best all-around experience possible—and that’s the case for both fine fragrance and scent in products. “You have to keep the product’s DNA consistent, through the materials and ingredients, packaging, marketing, distribution—it needs to be kept very specific in order to get a product to feel truly authentic,” he says.

Developing a Signature Fragrance