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Snapshot of Life

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: June 3, 2010, from the June 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

The travel and show season is upon us, and so my current thought process follows a pattern something like this: “Where am I supposed to be next week? What day is it? If it’s 8 am where I am, what time is it at home? Can I get on standby? What am I forgetting to do? In which pocket did I stuff whatever it is I need at the moment?” In short, I haven’t given much thought to things beyond the tasks at hand. However, when I attended The Pratt Institute—Luxe Pack “Art of Packaging Award” Gala honoring Coty Prestige for its “outstanding commitment to package design,” something got me thinking beyond my day-to-day.

Fragrance and fragrance packaging, not surprisingly, were at the forefront during the evening, and mistress of ceremonies Liz Cho, co-anchor of New York City’s WABC-TV Eyewitness News, said, “The fragrances on my perfume tray are a snapshot of my life.”

She went on to name the fragrances that marked eras and stages in her life. It’s been well-documented in these pages—as well as in the pages of GCI magazine’s sister publication Perfumer & Flavorist magazine—about the power of fragrance to evoke memories, but I think a broader range of beauty and personal care products, almost regardless of how everyday and mundane the product may be, approach that power.

I remember the first deodorant brand and SKU I used; like Cho’s fragrances, it marked a stage in my life. (I also remember where and how I thought it was to be applied, misguided by the television commercials that demonstrated the long-lasting effectiveness on the model’s forearm.) I certainly don’t remember the kitchen counter cleaner and laundry detergent brands I bought when I first moved out of my parents’ home. Though everyday products, they aren’t personal—and neither is the connection. I know this is preaching to the choir for many readers—I’ve heard the Lip Smackers stories, tales of exploring the color aisle with friends at the local pharmacy, and so on. But I think the question on many brand owners’ minds right now is: Today, how do we create these deep connections with the retail landscape changing, social media drawing a new line in the sand and communications clearly not one-way? The map has been redrawn, but the compass still points north. You’ve always known how to connect, and that consumer base yearning for these connections has not gone away. What route do you now need to take?