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Materials: The Scent of a Winner

By: Steve Tanner
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the September 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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In our evolving world, fragrance creativity and innovation is no longer the sole province of global firms. Industry giants still create spectacular new molecules, but other firms are seeing client rosters expand and creative assignments grow with unique fragrance strategies developed for major corporate clients and major brands. And these firms are experiencing an extremely stimulating, productive climate.

In the U.S., for example, membership and participation in the Fragrance Materials Association allows fragrance companies to play a key role in helping clients to protect the integrity of their products and develop more sustainable product platforms. In fact, fragrance leaders are proactively engaged in these efforts.

As an industry, we no longer use ingredients such as musk and civet from living creatures, or precious woods from endangered species. Nature-identical and creative man-made molecules are widely available that not only work better as fragrance ingredients, but also perform better in complex product formulations. Buyers and sourcing specialists are actively involved in protecting the plants and crops that provide so many of our ingredients, and they are working to make sure sustainable plantation cultures are encouraged in developing countries and fair trade practices are respected.

Because of the number of ingredients typically used in fragrance formulas, suppliers are closer to global supply sources than many of their clients, and suppliers’ positive involvement and influence in global sourcing is critical to their clients’ sustainability programs.

Fragrance Challenges

No industry is static, and the fragrance industry is changing like many others. Currently, there is focus on protecting intellectual property from regulatory initiatives in some U.S. states that would require full disclosure of the fragrance formulas and trade secrets of clients. Despite gas chromatography, which seeks to identify molecules in a formulation, a precise ingredient listing is a highly valuable trade secret. No marketer can afford to share these secrets that drive their success.