Scent of a nation: Symrise sees Chinese millennials as the future of fine fragrance

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Symrise explores China’s identity and youth culture through eight specially crafted scents. ©GettyImages
Symrise explores China’s identity and youth culture through eight specially crafted scents. ©GettyImages

Related tags: Fine fragrance, China, millennials

Symrise has sought to decode China’s fragrance identity and connect with the all-important Chinese millennial demographic.

The firm held its Scent Fiction event alongside Cosmoprof Asia 2019 and explored China’s identity and youth culture through eight specially crafted scents.

The exhibition was a multidisciplinary cross-collaboration between the fragrance supplier, NEZ magazine, artist Alan Chan and design agency Somexing.

Julie Deschamps, creative director of Symrise Asia Pacific told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that the company’s aim was to conduct an “olfactive exploration of Asian youth culture”.

“It's super important to understand the millennials in Asia, and especially in China because we realised that the China market is growing for fine fragrances, but they don't understand a lot about perfume.”

The firm believes the young Chinese consumer is growing more curious about fine fragrances because of their exposure to Western influences and love of luxury goods.

Symrise sees the Chinese millennials as the future target of its fine fragrances business, said Deschamps.

“What we want to achieve as Symrise is really to be considered a local expert of China. We want to work with Chinese brands because we see more and more that millennials are attracted to things that are made-in-China, created in China. They are not looking to Europe, they want something that belongs to their country.”

Distilling memories into fragrance

Deschamps said the aim was to play on nostalgia and emotion to help Chinese millennials understand fragrance.

“We know that the millennials are going to use perfume more and more, and in order to target them and make fragrance world more appealing, we thought to bring in childhood memories to connect them with fragrance.”

Deschamps elaborated: “It’s true in Europe we have a huge story of perfume. But in China, they don’t use a lot of perfume. So, we explored how to connect [the Chinese] with fragrance with memories – by bringing emotion to help them to understand the perfume.”

This meant using ‘codes’ that resonated with Chinese millennials. Symrise drew inspiration from eight nostalgic ‘characters’ from Chinese culture: Nezha, Hua Mulan, Xiaolongnü, Beibingyang, Tanghulu, Di Renjie, Old Godmother and Jia Jia the humanoid robot.

Each of the fragrances was created by a duo of perfumers, one from Europe and one Asia.

“It was important to start with the Asian touch because these are the characters they know. Then we brought in the fine fragrance expertise with a French perfumer,” ​explained Deschamps.

Duo Emilie Copperman and ‘Bow’ Suthathip Thedvichienchai were tasked with crafted the Golden Chilli perfume, a fragrance inspired by Tao Huabi, the creator of the Old Godmother spicy sauce.

Copperman said it was important to be immersed in Asian culture and focused on Asian trends to create the scents.

“It was a challenge to create a fragrance with two perfumers, separated by eight hours of jetlag, working together to make sure we didn’t lose the character of Old Godmother, while catching the market and linking two cultures.”

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