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A Sensory Journey: Fragrance in Branding

By: GCI Editors
Posted: May 23, 2012, from the June 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 5 of 9

Braden: There are many to consider, but the first is the packaging as this is often the first exposure that consumers will have to a product or brand. However it’s the fragrance itself, as well as how consumers experience it, that creates the initial relationship. The fragrance must capture the interest and desires of consumers. If they find the fragrance appealing and pleasant, they will come back and buy it again and again.

The brand story is important as well, as this is the driver that will create buzz and consumer interest and consideration. It’s so important that the story is successfully communicated, whether through advertising or by those sampling the product on the floor.

Q: How is a brand fragrance leveraged across a variety of SKUs? Is it changed per product, or does it stay the same? What decisions need to be considered?

Harper: Utilizing a signature scent—or more specifically, a signature accord—is a great strategy for building brand recognition and ultimately brand loyalty. Look to Dove and Herbal Essences as market-proven examples. The halo of Dove’s bar soap scent is present in nearly every Dove variant. For brand loyalists, they not only know a Dove product when they smell it, they expect to find the Dove halo in any new variant launched. Dove’s signature accord is leveraged across body wash, deodorant, hair care and body spritz lines. The same can be said of Herbal Essences products. Its signature apple floral scent is brand heritage and integral to any product bearing the Herbal Essences name.

Not all fragrances translate across product categories. For instance, a holiday spice scent may not translate well in a personal care product. The smell of red hot candies is wonderful as a holiday candle, but would not be a sought-after scent direction for body care, not to mention the regulatory guidelines restricting the use of spice raw materials in various product formats. Fragrance fit should be the determining factor when considering the viability of leveraging a single scent or signature accord across SKUs. 

Enriquez: Using similar notes in each fragrance throughout a line is how different SKUs have a similar fragrance type. Decisions for the similar notes are based on what the product is and what is in the base formula.