Brioche No. 1 is a hand wash by Tiong Bahru Bakery, a well-known French boulangerie by Singapore company Spa Esprit Group, a business that spans beauty, lifestyle and F&B brands.
The hand wash, inspired by the aroma of freshly baked brioche, was developed to “bring the smell of freshly baked bread into homes”.
“Over the years and as a group, we’ve amassed a portfolio of unique beauty and F&B brands that eschewed convention in favour of championing new movements and breaking stereotypes. Nothing smells better than freshly baked bread, and the brioche handwash was a way for us to combine our beauty and F&B expertise,” said Cynthia Chua, founder and chairman of the Spa Esprit Group.
Chua said that the quirky product was designed to “add value to the simple act of handwashing”.
“The pandemic has driven us to pay more attention to [hand washing]. The handwash is our way of making hand washing enjoyable and irresistible, and to enable the community to bring home the insatiable smell of the bakery. Plus, it serves as an added incentive to keep your hands clean and safe.”
Dan Terry, the founder of Oo La Lab, the local craft fragrance house responsible for the Brioche No. 1 scent, believes that the appreciation for our olfactory senses and scent has experienced a “renaissance” because of the pandemic.
“The sense of smell is such a powerful thing. But because it's often subconscious, we don’t value its importance in our decision-making process or in our emotions. I think it’s definitely been a change because of COVID-19, especially since one of the symptoms of contracting COVID-19 is a loss of smell.”
As such, he thinks consumers are now more likely to pay more attention to fragrance in more items than just perfume and would be more open to experiencing something more unconventional.
“There’s certainly been shifts in the way people consume products. With products like hand soap and sanitiser, it’s become an essential and people have become more open to a playful or different approach to them.”
Comfort in familiarity
While a hand wash that smells like baked good may sound counterintuitive, Brioche No. 1 has proven to be popular with consumers, prompting the firm to consider releasing more variations in the future.
Terry told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that because of the pandemic, consumers today are more receptive to products that bring them comfort. “Definitely with COVID-19, I think people by default want to feel safe and it’s getting them to use things they associate with those kinds of mental states.”
In this case, Terry suggests that the aroma of freshly baked bread can subconsciously evoke feelings of comfort in familiarity. “Fragrance is such a powerful tool to engender a sense of familiarity. It’s just the way that its processed in our brains.”
According to a Pinterest Predicts report published in December 2020, the image-sharing social media platform has seen an uptick of searches related to cocooning and pampering. For the beauty and personal care space for instance, Pinterest has logged in an increased interest in bathing rituals. In particular, searches for ‘deep soaking tub’ have increased by 145%.
This trend is set to continue in 2021 and will have a huge influence on the consumer’s fragrance preferences.
“Like I said before, people do want to be comforted in times like these. So, fragrances that elicit that sort of comfort, a sense of cleanliness and freshness – especially in warmer climates – I think these will prevail without a doubt,” said Terry.
In order to create a scent that can trigger such emotions, Terry highlighted the importance of creating a whole sensory experience, not just olfactory ones.
Using Brioche No. 1 as an example, he said the team had to familiarise themselves with the entire sensorial experience of having freshly baked brioche bread.
“Definitely there’s the aroma, but there’s the whole sensual experience representing the melting butter, that crunchy toast. I think we need to take all those cues into account because it all comes together to create a scent story and impact.”