Fragrance Special Newsletter

Why culture is proving influential in fragrance marketing

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

 Why culture is proving influential in fragrance marketing

Related tags: Brand, Apac

In our special newsletter on fragrance, science and innovation, we explore how culture is proving a popular brand story for many companies in APAC, to help communicate values and appeal to changing and growing consumer needs.

With the Eastern fragrance landscape behind its Western counterparts in terms of forming habits, Philip Hwang, Brand Strategy Director at Brandimage, reveals, APAC brands are focusing on using “cultural backstories, attributes, heritage and history”​, to harness aspirations and strive to incorporate perfume into the daily beauty regime.

Eastern influence

In our three-part interview with Philip Hwang, Brand Strategy Director at Brandimage, a Shanghai-based branding agency, we asked how companies can use culture and provenance in their core marketing messages and advertising campaigns​ to attract wider audiences.

The driving forces behind today’s fragrance purchasing habits have always been there in Asia, along with the region’s local cultural differences”​, Hwang stressed. Aspirational traits, variations between markets, cross-category marketing and faster product-to-market cycles are benefitting the Eastern fragrance sector.

In Asia, “consumers delight in learning new things because APAC is still emerging, and once we know these cultural stories, they become cultural currency because we are more in the know”​,  Hwang noted.

Therefore, brands with a cultural angle are increasingly emerging. Thee brands include Innisfree with its Jeju Island-inspired perfumery, Jahwa’s heritage brand that aims to revive and give consumers a glimpse into Shanghai in its heydey, and History of Whoo that leverages its Korean culture and history through packaging and ingredients.

Beauty and personal care mix

Analysing India, for example, indicates the significant impact that the active beauty and athleisure movement​ — a trend linked to health, wellbeing and even stemming from Ayurvedic beauty, which is popular in India  — has had on fragrances. Body odour concerns have led formulators to explore how India’s history and heritage and the modern active beauty trend can be influential in fragrances.

Boundaries between the beauty and personal care have been blurred as consumers seek long-lasting scent, increased antiperspirant protection and deodorising when exercising.

Aromatherapy considerations in scent creations and on-the-go and easy applications​ displayed in packaging can reflect India’s heritage while also developing contemporary fragrance-based solutions based on today’s trends.

Emotional appeal

APAC names are now forging ahead with incorporating culture into their marketing strategies, product launches, packaging and promotional campaigns to harness nostalgia and tap into consumers’ emotions.  

South Korean beauty conglomerate, AmorePacific, held its first exhibition​ in July 2017 to celebrate its culture, history and achievements by looking at its Jeju Island - a key part of its brand story.

Events are proving a successful way of getting culture, brand values and messages out to mass audiences. KCON 2017​, a three-day event promoting Korean beauty, music and culture, opened its doors to 68 Korean companies in August 2017.  

A changing narrative

As cultural zeitgeists develop and evolve over time, fragrance messaging and influences are also taking a different angle. Sex and seduction in the 1990s, for example, were used to heavily sell the idea of fragrance to the mass market.

Now, however, with “major shifts in behaviour, attitudes to what is considered attractive are rapidly changing...so not only do fragrances sold on sex appear dated and off message​, they can start to feel offensive,​” Nicole Fall, Founder of intelligence agency, Five By Fifty, observed.

Today’s fragrance consumer

Looking ahead, as cultural heritage and provenance stories continue to form part of brands’ core story, ‘scentcuration​’ — a term coined by Fall to explain how contemporary fragrance launches should mirror modern day to appeal to today’s consumer — is helping to bridge history with now.

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