This trend is nothing new, but it got well-established in 2020: scents, which are essential to the public, became a source of wellness and comfort. Like a return to the origins of perfume, in a way, says IFF, based on a survey of 10,000 consumers from 14 different countries.

Wellness & Big Data

According to the perfume manufacturer, 87% of consumers want fragrances that offer emotional or physical benefits. This search is reflected on the global perfume, wellness, and beauty market. In 2018, according to the Global Wellness Institute, this market reached 4,500 billion dollars, a quarter of which was represented by personal care, beauty, and anti-ageing. A majority of the 10,000 people surveyed by IFF in 2021 said they were keen on aromatherapy, Ayurveda, and Chinese medicine. However, among this group, 67% would like their products to be developed using science. Consumers want wellness and energy on a daily basis thanks to perfumes, which are now viewed as able to create positive emotions.

To meet these expectations, IFF asked their experts to set up the Science of Wellness programme. After forty years of research, this tool can now study “the brain activity related to smells and perfume,” explains Céline Manetta, PhD in Psychology and Senior Consumer Science Manager at IFF. Initially launched in the 1980s, this programme was used in the 1990s to study the links between smells, colours, and textures. Year after year, IFF completed it with new neurosciences knowledge and methods and the calculation power of Data Science. By combining Mathematics, Artificial Intelligence, and Statistics, Big Data helped significantly increase the number of combinations possible between ingredients to get high-performance synergies on brain perception. Billions of pieces of information were cross-referenced for perfumers to pick up what they need in this database when they receive a new brief, so they get the emotional benefit wanted.

‘Augmented perfumery’

By combining science and creativity, the Science of Wellness programme offers “augmented perfumery for holistic wellness, says Céline Manetta. For IFF’s brand customers, the programme provides more accuracy to awaken the emotions users want.

Thanks to an in-house team of over 60 people including PhDs in Psychology, statisticians, researchers, and olfactory experts directly in contact with perfumers, this expert programme helps make progress in terms of formulation and olfactory know-how. It is based on a multifaceted approach structured around three dimensions – emotional, cognitive, and physical – to create perfumed products with beneficial virtues for consumers.

As regards emotions, brands can target benefits in terms of happiness, relaxation, or seduction. The cognitive area covers full awareness, attention, self-esteem, and memory. Lastly, physical benefits can include sleep quality and skincare.

The Science of Wellness programme offers new formulation possibilities to enhance the creative approach of perfumers. The latter can rely on data based on consumer studies and on the analysis of over 6,000 ingredients, accords, and perfumes. “This tool is highly inspiring creation-wise”, explains Juliette Karagueuzoglou, perfumer at IFF. “Since we work closely with this programme’s team, we can add the relevant ingredients to our formulas,” she adds. This AI system offers “new accords and makes it possible to discover new facets of raw materials”.

IFF recently drew inspiration from this programme to convey the notion of youth, romanticism, and happiness required in the brief of Eternity Summer by Calvin Klein. The perfumers chose to work with Rose Essentielle LMR, which creates a sensation of happiness, and relaxing Sambac jasmine from India.

This search for wellness and authenticity when buying a fragrance was already visible before the pandemic. This phenomenon obviously grew during this stressful period. (Temporarily?) giving up on seduction, perfumes are now related to the search for meaning. This issue being quite complex, AI efficiently feeds perfumers’ creative work and expertise.