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The Fragrance Innovation Summit attracts numbers around the future of perfumes

Over 150 participants, including perfume brands and manufacturers, attended the third annual Fragrance Innovation Summit held by Premium Beauty News. As for the speakers, thirty experts in perfume ingredients, biotechnologies, Artificial Intelligence, creation, retail, packaging, communication, and training shared testimonies, experiences, projects, and thoughts about the major challenges the sector is facing. Here is a report about the highlights of this inspiring day…

Sabine Chabbert, representing the Fragrance Foundation France, an early partner of the event, inaugurated this day structured around 15-minute-long, speed talking presentations.

Updates and inspirations

Mathilde Lion, Global Client Development Director of the NPD Group, set the stage with a statistical assessment of selective perfumery around the world. Although perfume still dominates the prestige category, sales tend to remain stable on mature markets. However, she did mention a few growth drivers, in particular travel shoppers, who increasingly buy perfumes in duty free areas and on local markets, e-commerce, which still has a huge growth potential in this category, and naturalness expectations, mainly expressed by young generations.

Vincent Gallon, chief editor of Premium Beauty News, took the public on a world tour of the most astonishing perfume innovations in terms of positioning, gestures, or formulations, and put an emphasis on the 2019 trends: sustainable development, customization, reinvented uses, and new experience-oriented concepts.

Highly technological, highly data-oriented: a new way to approach creation

Claire Viola, Vice President Digital Strategy Fragrance of Symrise, and Muriel Jacquot, founder of Myrissi, gave a presentation about how to integrate the Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to the creation process.

To us, AI can be considered the next perfume revolution,” said Claire Viola. Using the Philyra tool developed in collaboration with IBM, two fragrances were designed for Brazilian brand O Boticario based on formulas with proportions and combinations never tested before in the perfume sector.

As for the Myrissi tool, thanks to AI, it helps anticipate the intuitive interpretation of a fragrance in order to optimize its emotional impact.

Highly natural, highly ethical, highly authentic: towards committed perfume?

However, creation should also adapt to major societal changes. Pascale Brousse, founder of Trendsourcing, deciphered consumer expectations as regards “clean perfumery” – a trend highlighted by Camille Lefeuvre, founder of pH Fragrance.

Natural creation might well represent tomorrow’s biggest challenge. Perfumer-creator Irène Farmachidi, of French company Technicoflor, an expert in this field for over 12 years, detailed what creative work consists in when it comes to integrating the constraints of a palette with fewer natural raw materials.

Still, the natural, ethical palette can be further enriched, confirmed Behave founder Stéphane Piquart, a perfumer sourcing specialist who has adopted an ecoresponsible and fair approach. He explained his strategy by highlighting the work he has done on three flagship raw materials: sandalwood, myrrh, and ylang-ylang.

Then, Marie-Gabrielle Jouan, founder of the BGene laboratory, put an emphasis on the role played by biotechnologies in the production of aromas and molecules based on wood by-products.

Convinced that storyproving is gradually replacing storytelling, Sandrine Sommer, Sustainable Development Director of Guerlain, gave an overview of the various actions implemented by the Bee brand in this field, in particular the new traceability platform called Bee Respect. Accessible online, the website provides all types of information, including the origins of the components contained in every single Guerlain product: skincare, makeup, and soon, perfumes.

After a whole morning of discussions, Marc Giget, President of the EICSI and of the Paris Club of Innovation Directors, reminded everyone of the need to put innovation back at the core of societal and human expectations. His speech was substantiated with the experience shared by Chantal Roos, guest of honour of the event for her exceptional career in the perfume industry, in particular as the President of Maisons YSL Parfums and BPI, and as the creator of niche brand Roos & Roos.

How to keep seducing consumers

Vanessa Cots, of digital communication agency Dix Sept Paris, focused on the need for luxury brands to approach social media from a different angle, i.e. by getting rid of existing static strategies and banking on quality through richer, more original, even committed communication…

Echoing her presentation, Michelle Algazi, Insight Crafter at Dynvibe, warned the audience about an emerging, powerful feeling of overconsumption and weariness towards cosmetics, perfumes included, among young consumers.

For his part, Carl Allain talked about how Arcade Beauty offers to test a perfume via Instagram.

The packaging emergency

After an overview of the most striking innovations showcased at Luxe Pack – this year, most of them were environmentally friendly initiatives – leading luxury glass and plastic packaging players, Aptar, Albéa, Pochet, Bormioli Luigi, and Verescence, gathered around the table to detail some of their answers to the environmental challenge they are facing.

Fragrance metamorphoses

Perfume can be considered from multiple standpoints. For example, it can meet rising wellness expectations: Greentech’s Scientific Director Edith Filaire explained how her company developed a protocol for analyzing the emotions induced by cosmetic products.

And then, why not play with the borders between the different markets, creating multisensory experiences mixing taste and smell? Independent perfumer-creator Cécile Zarokian presented the work she did for various spirits brands to convey the evocation of a gin or old rum in a fragrance, or even create an edible perfume – which all participants tested with great curiosity.

Retail: re-enchanting experiences

Without opposing physical stores and e-commerce, Joël Palix, President of Palix Unlimited, reminded the audience of the increasing influence of online stores to which retail needs to adapt. “Stores need to be reinvented through a new role distribution; they should play on new closeness levers or new practices, like refillable solutions," he said.

TopNotes founder Nathalie Pichard focused on a well-known tricky challenge, that of training physical store teams in order to stand out, while Nicolas Dewitte, General Manager of the Bogart Group, given his experience as both a perfumer manufacturer and retailer, explained how useful it would be to transpose values between the two activities. “We need to bring olfaction back to the heart of our stores,” he recommended.

Given the interest in its dynamic formula and the scope of the themes discussed, a 4th edition of the Fragrance Innovation Summit will be held in November 2020 in a bigger venue, in Paris.

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