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Originally printed in Perfumer & Flavorist magazine, April 2010.
Steve Hicks will speak at the World Perfumery Congress (WPC; www.worldperfumerycongress.com) in Cannes, France, June 1–4, 2010. Read previous interviews with WPC speakers Karyn Khoury and Jack DiMaggio at www.perfumerfl avorist.com/events/ coverage.
“2010 is a wonderful opportunity to bring true value and excellence to consumers,” says Steve Hicks, P&G’s director of fl avor and fragrance development global capability organization. Far from viewing the fi nancial crisis as a threat, Hicks has identifi ed several opportunities for fragrance companies to survive and thrive. He acknowledges that the last 18 months have been tough for the industry, and that a return to profi tability and historical growth curves is paramount. And so, he asks, “How does this industry compete in the new world?”
The answer to that question will defi ne those companies still standing in 2020, says Hicks. “It’s a challenging decade to come, but there are wonderful opportunities for innovation and growth.”
1: “Fragrances are still a huge driver of brand selection and loyalty by consumers,” says Hicks. “Nothing has broken our faith in that.” This fundamental truth translates into a focus on launching “superior fragrances to drive brand growth.” As consumers change spending patterns, companies such as P&G are relying on superior fragrances as a driver of innovation. “Fragrances are a delightful experience for consumers, not a chore,” says Hicks. “Across all categories, the commonality is fragrance ‘delight.’ Consumers smile when they talk about fragrances. It is truly an element of happiness.” In response, he says, fragrance industry leaders have engaged in new levels of innovation and reinvention. “I would be very fearful if they weren’t,” he adds, noting that the industry must outmaneuver the spectre of commoditization.