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The Changing Role of Fragrance in Personal Washes

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured, Editor, Perfumer & Flavorist
Posted: January 12, 2009

Courtesy of Perfumer & Flavorist magazine.

In the crowded personal care market, it is necessary for a product to offer multiple benefits to stand apart and succeed. This means that for personal washes it is no longer just about the cleansing properties; a product must deliver more in both benefits and fragrance. Both men and women are increasingly concerned with skin health, physical appearance, well-being, moisturization and environmental responsibility. Fragrance plays a major role in helping to communicate these benefits to the consumer. Perfumer & Flavorist magazine recently spoke with IFF’s Debra Van Dyk, vice president of fragrance development, functional fragrances, to find out about the changing role of fragrance in personal wash.

P&F: What’s driving fragrance preferences in the personal wash category?

Van Dyk: Consumers tend to buy brands with which they feel an emotional connection. Fragrance is a critical factor in a consumer’s initial purchase decision, and it helps form the bond between a consumer and a brand—taking it from like to love. Consumers’ fragrance appreciation is driven by a natural desire and need for emotional connection, sensorial experience, pleasure, diversity and newness. The green movement is an emotional motivator for today’s consumers and expresses itself in a variety of ways related to fragrance.

Natural-smelling fragrances that connote pure, clean freshness are in demand and can reinforce the green footprint of environmentally responsible products.

Whatever feelings or experiences consumers are looking for as they interact with our clients’ products, fragrance is a key criterion in creating a memorable shower experience. The goal of the fragrance is to reinforce the promise or benefit of the overall product. If the product claims to offer a relaxing/calming experience in the shower, IFF’s consumer insights allow perfumes to efficiently develop an aroma to promote relaxation and calm, a fragrance conveying a sense of well-being or even a spa atmosphere.

In the past, fragrance trends trickled down predominantly from the world of prestige and fine fragrance. This is no longer the case. We are seeing very inspirational fragrances coming from every product category that may impact personal wash. Our perfumers seek inspiration from diverse consumer markets, cultures and climates, including: cuisine, fashion, botanicals, cosmetics, beauty care, etc., to create fragrances with which the consumer will connect deeply.

Sensorial experiences such as creamy textures and rich gourmand desserts are other consumer favorites that offer pleasure and variety in personal wash. IFF’s flavorists are able to team up with our fragrance experts to create fun and excitement with creamy cosmetic gourmand notes. Their creations influence consumer perception of skin care, moisturization, sensuality and luxury.

Consumers are always looking for new experiences. Exploring fanciful and exotic combinations of flowers and fruits is definitely part of IFF’s creative vision. IFF’s Consumer Insights’ Newness tool helps perfumers dissect the effect of change in the minds of consumers, in order to understand the comfort level people in different markets have for what is new to them.

Fragrance preference is also driven by performance and power. In many cases, the more consumers like what they smell, the more they want to smell it—from the product, while bathing and afterwards on their skin. IFF’s sensory and analytical research supports the creative team in its understanding of which notes and materials perform best.