24 May 2021 --- How we shop, engage and interact with fragrance post-pandemic is set to look very different from the days of traditional touch-based spray samples that cater to all. Innovation centering on contactless, hygienic perfumery that reflects our unique needs through personalization is here.
BPC Insights caught up with Johanna Monange, founder of Maison 21G, to explore what we can expect to see from personalized perfumery in the post-COVID era.
What are the greatest opportunities for premium personalized fragrances today?
Click to EnlargeYounger fragrance buyers are bemused by too much choice.You don’t have to look very far to see that today’s perfume customers are lost. They don’t know how to choose a perfume or differentiate between the thousands of similar launches and the low-grade filler scents that occupy retail spaces.
Today’s customers are selective; they want to consume wisely and ethically, and they want to be involved in the journey of each and every purchase. They want to be involved in the process of creation, and they want their items to be bespoke and personalized, and reflective of their individuality. In essence, they are searching for products that reflect their image and style.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted these?
Well, testers have become a thing of the past! COVID-19 has called for a deep and radical rethink of this sensory industry. We have taken a lot of joy in thinking outside the box and experimenting in ways to ensure the customer journey is not only uninterrupted but presented in ways that heighten both experience and intimacy.
All of this led to the creation of the touchless scent bar, a thrilling new way to encounter our notes and ingredients in a no-contact manner, but which really elevates the exploratory side of perfume and sense discovery. It has recently been launched in collaboration with Sephora Hong Kong and showcases our dedication to agility and invention in these challenging times.
What are the challenges for brands in the premium personalized fragrance space?
Scaling up, and disturbing and disrupting the iconic brands that dominate the industry due to their financial power. However, by keeping our finger on the pulse of the millennial marketplace and its unique demands and expectations and remaining committed to agility, education, innovation, transparency and sustainability, anything is possible.
How do you envisage consumer behavior will change regarding how we engage with fragrance samples and personalization following the pandemic?
That personalized touch and intimate bond with brands is going to be more important than ever before. Customers will expect to be taken on a tailored journey, be provided with a one-on-one experience, and be liberated to encounter in-person, and then purchase online with convenience, safety, and without time constraints.
Brands, more than ever before, need to have a fully established online voice and identity. The need for education over advertising is also becoming more and more potent, and demonstrating a real commitment to sustainability has become an absolute must, Gen Z and millennial markets are passionate about consuming wisely and eco-consciously. Being green has become the new luxury!
How are we using fragrance?
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How consumers use fragrance is now all about personalization.
Recent research reveals that the fragrance category is on an upward trend, the Innova Fragrance Trends Analysis, released in April 2021, shows. Personalization is not only limited to the fragrance itself, but consumers are also seeking personalized packaging options such as curated gift boxes and these are driving new product development (NPD).
In the Innova Beauty and Personal Care Survey 2020, 67% of global consumers reported that the number of fragrance products they had bought online over the past 12 months had stayed the same. Similarly, 64% said their fragrance purchasing habits had stayed the same in-store too, despite the pandemic. It will be interesting to see in the coming months how much our fragrance habits and buying preferences have changed as a result of the pandemic.
Price appears to be the primary factor influencing consumers’ decision to shop online for fragrances, with 36% of global consumers choosing to browse online to compare prices and 31% of respondents heading online to get a better price, the survey revealed.
Looking ahead at fragrance purchasing trends, we can expect to see growing penetration, which comes as the category witnessed an increased personal care NPD share, rising from 6% to 8% over the 2018 to 2020 period. We may be able to attribute this hike in popularity to a growing demand for indulgence during the uncertainty and difficulty of the pandemic, Innova’s recent Fragrance Trends Analysis indicates. Consumers continue to show interest in aspirational purchases, which has traditionally helped to propel the category’s developments. This was the case in 2020, despite the pandemic and its accompanying lockdowns, suggesting the prevalence of personal treats and small luxuries.
By Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe, BPC Insights Senior Journalist