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Concepts of Opportunity

By: Steve Tanner, Arylessence
Posted: August 11, 2009, from the August 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 5 of 6

One of the responsibilities of leadership is to ask questions. Unless we ask questions, we never know where opportunity exists. Asking the right questions is how we manage virtually everything we do in perfumery and evaluation, as well as in our laboratories and production facilities. We use the same discipline in our approach to industry initiatives.

Making sure that the right questions are asked and key topics addressed helps us participate constructively in fragrance organizations such as the Fragrance Materials Association of the U.S. (FMA), the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM)—as well as manufacturing organizations such as the Consumer Specialty Product Association (CSPA), the Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) and the National Candle Association (NCA).

To ask the right questions, of course, we must know the details. Our involvement in every aspect of fragrance creation and application has made us very informed about industry issues. We represent a fragrance, a product component that is made with scores of ingredients, including natural and man-made materials, and this puts our industry squarely on the front lines of product quality, safety and sustainability issues. No responsible fragrance-maker can ignore these topics. Not only do they affect our clients, but they affect our ability to creatively develop and produce exciting scents. Fragrance may be our livelihood, but today some hard-core critics are saying there is no reason for us to exist.

How should an industry respond to criticism like this? In our view, very seriously. Leadership starts with working together as an industry—and in association with sister organizations, such as CSPA and SDA. It means confronting alarmist propaganda with real science. It means providing solid information that journalists can use for balance and perspective. It means working with legislators and regulators, as well as those in nongovernmental organizations who may be promoting initiatives that to us seem aggressive and threatening.

But it does not mean fighting fire with fire. As industry participants, we believe that fighting is an extremely counter-productive response. We promote engagement—but not battle. Constructive dialog can always achieve more. If we are serious about working together, our industry can provide enormous leadership and be extraordinarily effective.