Fragrance with benefits: Focus on inner well-being during COVID-19 accelerating scent trend

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Functional fragrance trend is set to boom post-COVID-19. ©Getty Images
Functional fragrance trend is set to boom post-COVID-19. ©Getty Images

Related tags Fragrance trends COVID-19

The founder of a Singapore-based fragrance firm believes the functional fragrance trend is set to boom as more consumers prioritise their inner well-being in the face of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Jason Lee is a former Givaudan executive that founded the fragrance label SIX that offers a range of genderless fine fragrances and home fragrances.

Since Singapore entered its “circuit breaker” period on April 7, Lee observed change in his sales patterns.

Before COVID-19, the demand for his perfumes and home fragrances would be relatively balanced.

However, he has seen a sharp spike in demand for home fragrances while fine fragrance has taken a tumble.

“Instead of luxury goods like watches, bags and clothes, people are channelling their money into things that will make them feel and live better while at home. COVID-19 has forced us to focus on the emotional and psychological, and people now realise fragrance plays an important role in our well-being,” ​Lee told CosmeticsDesign-Asia.

He believes the trend of functional fragrance is more out in the open now that the pandemic has caused such a huge shift in consumer behaviour.

“COVID-19 is really the big driver behind the whole trend of functional fragrance now, it’s the big catalyst and I expect to see it more in the developed markets.”

According to Lee, functional fragrance will become more significant as consumers have high expectations for products.

“They will need to use products with olfactive directions that can meet their expectations,”​ he said.

He added: “There’s a big demand for functional fragrances that are going in a more natural, green olfactive direction. These will give, for example, a nice caring feeling for your skin. You will find that products that carry fragrance will carry directions like this moving forward.”

He predicted that we will see scents such as lemongrass, tea, musk, coniferous pine utilised this way in the next year or so.

“These fragrances will give you a perception of products being natural while driving the right level of expectations that users want from manufactures.”

Shifting gears

On the heels of this trend, Lee has shifted gears to launch a range of hand sanitisers with functional fragrance under a new label, Whiff.

The alcohol-based sanitisers each contain a blend of fragrances that offer additional benefits such as aiding in relaxation, concentration or sleep.

While many essential oils have similar claims, these fragrance blends were developed by Givaudan and scientifically proven to be effective.

Lee explained that the research was supported by a team that included expert scientists in the field of neuroscience, psychology, sensory science and fragrance.

Together, they supported the developments of fragrances with specific mood-evoking properties.

“This is really focused on fragrance ingredients. The tech is centred on a palette of fragrance ingredients… the result is a product that is both olfactive pleasing and scientifically backed.”

‘Daily essentials done right’

Initially, Lee founded Whiff as B2B company to supply tourism and hospitality businesses with odour removing enzymes.

“When COVID-19 came along, we decided to roll out the hand sanitisers. There was a huge demand for them especially at the end of January.”

He envisioned moving Whiff into the B2C market eventually to offer functional fragrance products for the mass consumer.

One of Lee’s ideas was to launch a product to help smokers remove the smell of tobacco from their fingers or clothes.

Speaking from personal experience, Lee said: “This is a really big concern for smokers. If you’re a father returning home, you don’t want your children to be hugging you while your garments are laced with tobacco. This is something that can help eradicate the smell and disinfect at the same time.”

Moving forward, he hopes to launch more products under Whiff with functional fragrances at the core.

“Whiff will be a platform for us to launch more FMCG products. We want to create daily essentials done right. We want to use ingredients with real functions, not just product that are pure fluff. We want substance and performance to be able to help people.”

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