Premium Beauty News - Why “reinvent” perfume creation?
Juliette Sicot-Crevet - We used a study of 5,000 representative consumers in Brazil, France, the US, and China, conducted in partnership with the aroma department to determine expectations in terms of naturalness and sustainability, measure the importance of these issues, and identify the most interesting claims, but also the dilemmas related to conscious consumption – it is not that clear, after all. We also wanted to know how natural perfumes were perceived, among natural perfumes, but also compared to others, from an olfactory, sensorial standpoint. And we realized that a majority of people have now adopted these natural-oriented consumption habits, although not always for the same reasons. Based on these observations, we decided to adapt the development process.
Premium Beauty News - Why was the “traditional” process no longer adapted?
Juliette Sicot-Crevet - A traditional process involves working on a brief with parameters mostly based on the olfactory performance, on the perfume’s hedonic aspect. Today, this dimension, which still corresponds to the main role of perfume and our core business, is no longer enough. Consumers expect more as soon as the design phase - more upstream.
Premium Beauty News - What expectations were revealed by the study?
Juliette Sicot-Crevet - As regards perfumes, people mainly want to know what they contain, what the ingredients are, and in particular whether they are natural or not. Then come the environmental impact, the human and ethical dimensions, the origin, and the design.
We also discovered perfume plays a key role for the product and the brand to be perceived as natural and sustainable. It is obvious for perfumes, but the same goes for shampoos, shower gels and skincare.
Premium Beauty News - What does the CreateForGood approach consist in?
Juliette Sicot-Crevet - It is a five-step process. The first step is focused on our knowledge of the brand that will embody the perfume. We definitely need to know how it is positioned on the market, based on its products, ingredients, and packs. We also need to understand what it aims for in terms of naturalness and sustainability.
The second step is based on our consumer study. It helps us advise and guide brands into choosing the best perfume strategy.
Once the strategy has been defined, step three involves creation, in particular ingredient choices. Depending on the strategy, some ingredients will be possible, while others will not. For the perfumer, it becomes an exercise involving much more than hedonics. There is a need to comply with accurate specifications.
Now, there was no step four in standard creation. Here, it involves the EcoScent Compass tool launched two years ago to measure a perfume’s sustainability from a holistic standpoint, based on three complementary scores. The first measures the green properties of the ingredients depending on their content in renewable carbon, their biodegradability, the use of green chemistry, etc. The second score is focused on the environmental impact, and the third has to do with the social aspect and compliance with good practices as regards the labour, health, and safety rights of both our employees and suppliers. We rely on the life cycle analysis data related to our ingredients, our suppliers’ data, and Ecovadis data.
Today, this EcoScent Compass score is already calculated for every new creation.
Lastly, step five corresponds to finalization. It requires total control over natural creation processes to be able to meet all criteria: the olfactory relevance, in line with the claims wanted, a stable formula, and an adapted price.
Premium Beauty News - What are the constraints?
Juliette Sicot-Crevet - We try to be as objective and to provide as much information as possible. There are still a lot of misunderstandings and clichés. If a company wants to go all natural, they need to know what it involves. You do not get to win all the time. Today, consumers know what sustainable packaging is, but they still do not really know what a sustainable product or perfume is. In particular, they do not know that naturalness does not always rhyme with sustainability. There is a lot to be done with brands, and EcoScent Compass helps with it.
Generally speaking, the 100% natural perfumes analyzed by this tool are not those that get the best environmental score, given their high energy and water consumption and the presence of allergens. EcoScent Compass takes into account educational and communication parameters: it provides both transparency and objectivity. For example, it involves a score for green chemistry. Consumers do not know what green chemistry is. Our study actually confirmed that younger generations, in particular, are eager to understand these notions and practices to reconcile naturalness with environmental protection. Thanks to a tool like EcoScent, we get the means to measure and explain these concepts and vulgarize them with objectivity.
Premium Beauty News - What are Firmenich’s aspirations within this context?
Juliette Sicot-Crevet - We aim to support brands in adapting to this movement. There are as many combinations as there are brands. We intend to provide solutions that help each brand discover what suits them, what is most relevant given their strategies and targets. Since the company was founded, 125 years ago, Firmenich has been a key player in modern perfumery. Today, we are opening a new age I call ethical perfumery: it consists in offering sensorial, environmentally friendly, safe perfumes trusted by consumers. Firmenich aims to be a leader in this new era.