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“Generation Co” and the Future of Fragrance

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured
Posted: November 3, 2010, from the November 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Male olfactive preferences: Symrise mapped the top 20 fragrances in both the United States and European Union to compare family preferences. As it turns out, both groups favor fougère, in particular fougère-fruity and fougère-ambery. Bucher notes that both groups of young adult males showed a preference for “extreme sensuality,” typified by woody-oriental fragrances such as Armani Code in the United States and woody-fruity scents such as Black XS in Europe. U.S. males also favor the freshness associated with citrus scents characterized in fragrances such as Acqua Di Gio, Cologne 41 and ckOne. Contrasting U.S./EU female preferences: U.S. preferences encompass specialty and celebrity brands such as Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Baby Phat and Jennifer Lopez. Fruity and floral-fruity families are key to this market. This is not so among EU young adult females, who prefer floriental-fruity scents—fruity with sensuality, as Bucher puts it. “When these kids grow up, are they going to reject fruity notes because it reminds them of being young?” she asks. “To grow up with this consumer, maybe it’s a need to develop a fruity that’s not sticky, not too sweet, that’s more sophisticated.”

EU young adults most preferred scents such as Amor Amor, Coco Mademoiselle and Flower by Kenzo. Among the few preferred scents shared by U.S. and EU young adult females were Light Blue, ckOne and Angel.

The Symrise team identified a number of emotional facets related to preferred scents in both the United States and Europe, including tenderness, represented by fruity-floral and floral-woody scents. U.S. young adults showed a preference for floral green scents like Pink or white florals like Juicy Couture. Meanwhile, EU young adults preferred edible and spicy scents. Sensuality, on the other hand, was typified by the floriental family and, in the EU, with woody facets. The company has also identified a “tasty addiction” preference in the United States, highlighted by fruity and edible scents.

Fragrance Demos: A Tale of Six “Tribes”

Based on its research, Symrise identified six so-called tribes, non-rigid communities based on shared music, icons, lifestyle, fashion and beauty brands. The tribes are broken into: emo (dark, moody, sensitive), arty (feminine, modern, hippie), geeks (smart, modern, quirky), neo-mods (male, rock, hipster), fluo (short for fluorescent; bright, happy, fun) and funky/RNB (evolution of hip hop, cross-cultural). In considering what kind of fragrances might characterize these groups, the company’s perfumers formulated 12 demos, many featuring inspiration from the beverage world.

Emo: These scents highlight the concept of soft and rough contrasts through the use of musk. The feminine scent includes a powdered sugar accord with lemon curd for zest/sourness, plus vanilla, musk and sandalwood. The masculine scent is built around an accord inspired by ginger ale and hazelnut wood, with a musky background.