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Connecting the Intangible to the Tangible

By: Valerie Jacobs
Posted: July 12, 2011, from the July 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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As beauty brands ingeniously blur boundaries between multiple categories, entirely new categories are being created—offering consumers value in the form of a new experience. Fragrance is a particularly effective tool to offer value this way, elevating brands to multisensory experiences and helping to differentiate products.

Physicians Formula Happy Booster makeup contains an endorphin-derived Euphoryl complex and a signature violet scent that claims to boost the wearer’s mood and promote “a feeling of joy each time you apply.” StrangeBeautiful’s nail polish color library has undertaken a new approach in the delivery of fragrance, combining a violet scent with leather undertones in each shade, and Redken’s Nature Rescue hair care collection positions itself as a sensorial escape from the normal hair routine. Its Time Touch fragrance capsules release an oceanic scent when the hair is touched, meaning Redken is employing scented promotional material to introduce the line, a new foray for the brand.

New Avenues

In recent years, the fine fragrance industry has suffered at both prestige and mass as brands struggle to resonate with consumers who avoid beauty counters and are unlikely to purchase fragrance online. However, niche product innovations are emerging, sparking new interest in the delivery and art of scent. As health and well-being continue to serve as a driving force across multiple categories of beauty, fragrances are also emerging with natural positioning.

While most fragrances are comprised of synthetic molecules meant to replicate their natural counterparts, new fragrances strike a return to historical connotations of fragrance and aromatherapy. L’Oeil du Vert is a fragrance studio headed by Haley Alexander van Oosten. With a background in ethnobotany, van Oosten travels to remote locations in search of rare, naturally occurring ingredients such as frankincense from Oman, black opal from Peru and yarrow from Alaska, which she then leverages to create her all-natural fragrance blends.

As society increasingly becomes consumed by the idea of living a healthy lifestyle and outsmarting aging and disease, fragrances inspired by vices and indulgences are emerging as countertrends.