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The Spirit of the Brand

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: April 2, 2007
Back to the April Issue

The role that fragrance plays in skin care is undeniable. It enhances products, transforming skin care regimens into aesthetically pleasing rituals. Fragrance also plays an important role in branding, as scent is key to consumers’ ability to identify a product type. An antiaging product, for example, should be fragranced in a way that suggests its purpose. For all these benefits, fragrance in skin care products is not without its critics. Concerns have been raised over skin irritation and allergic reactions caused by fragrance, and the trend for fragrance-free naturals continues to gain momentum.

GCI magazine spoke with Art Rich, president, A. Rich Development; Pierre-Constantin Gueros, perfumer, drom fragrances international; and Laureen Schroeder, director of skin care marketing, SkinMilk, and asked them to provide perspective on fragrance in skin care.

GCI: What role does fragrance play in skin care products, beyond simply providing a pleasant aesthetic?
Art Rich: The fragrance is used to reinforce the product concept and its intended function for the consumer. It requires a sophisticated sensory approach to marry the fragrance to the product and its functionality. As an example, it would be more difficult for a consumer to believe that an antiwrinkle cream is effective if the fragrance has a floral or bubble gum character to it.

Pierre-Constantin Gueros:
The fragrance has to respect the identity of the brand. People who use many products of the same brand look for common elements from the skin cream, body lotion and antiaging night serum.

GCI: Does the fragrance help define a skin care brand?
P-C G: Respecting the spirit of the brand often means going back and referring to the most popular product in the brand line or the first historical success of a brand and its olfactive elements. An example is Nivea Cream. The original in the blue pot had a big influence on all the perfumes of the Nivea brand line. Fragrances were adapted to the different bases. Perfumes launched by a brand on the fine fragrance market, as another example, may be translated for line extensions and reflect the degree of sophistication that the brand wants to convey in these products.

Laureen Schroeder:
Fragrance plays a pivotal role in the brand connection we develop with our consumers on all our skin care brands. The sensory experience that fragrance provides consumers is the most powerful nonvisual indicator of our brand essence. We call it emotional branding. Particularly in our SkinMilk bath and body products, the signature soft vanilla cream scent provides our consumers with a positive, luxurious sensory experience, and has helped us develop the consumer loyalty that we seek in (this) highly fragmented category.
 
GCI: What are the trends in fragrances for skin care?
P-C G: There are two main trends for cosmetic products in general: high-tech products and exotic and natural products.
There are more and more products with a high technological base, almost medical, developed through involved research. In these types of products, the perfume has to translate the high degree of technology using some abstract notes—water, oxygen, ions. A lot of studies on that subject show that the efficacy of skin care products is reflected in their scent. Aquatic or green notes are antiaging; warm vanilla notes are smoothening and nourishing.