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Speaking to the senses: The experiential innovations of the fragrance market

The ability for scent to form pleasant associations and experiences is based on the effect of scent on synesthesia. Essentially, scent can intertwine with different human senses, such as touch, taste, sound and sight. A Harvard Gazette report on aromacology[1]​ found that the ability to smell is what determines taste. The study also found that people tend to smell in color. Participants of the study associated citrus-flavored mandarin with the colors orange, yellow, and green. When smelling vetiver, a grassy scent, audience members envisioned green and brown. The nose also connects to the olfactory bulb, which in turn sends signals to the brain regarding sensitivity to injury, firing signals in the brain which correlate to texture and touch. These physiological sensorial impacts explain the ability for scent to bring back desirable memories and emotions. 

Now more than ever, consumers have been searching for a way to find a sense of escapism from everyday stressors. It is no surprise, therefore, to see that brands are starting to look at the physiological and psychological impacts of fragrance. The experiential and sensorial impact of aroma on the human senses has allowed consumers to utilize fragrance in order to transport themselves to a peaceful time of their lives, particularly before the current economic downturn. This play on experiential strategies is what has and will continue to catapult the fragrance industry’s exponential growth. Here are a few brands that are disrupting the fragrance market:

EMOTIF: ByteDance’s new fragrance line​    

Tiktok, with over 1 billion global monthly active users, has been privy to emerging brands given its massive reach. ByteDance, Tiktok’s parent company, aims to expand beyond just tech, with fragrance selected as the next market to experiment in. With local facilities in place capable of supporting the development needs of ByteDance, Meiyume enabled the turnkey launch of ByteDance’s new fragrance line – EMOTIF. The name “EMOTIF” refers to the meaning of the French word “émotif’”, which translates to “emotional”.[2]

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EMOTIF’s first launch consists of three products offered in 2ml and 9 ml bottles: “Electronic Lover”, “Astronaut in the Ocean”, and “Pompidou Only Drinks Champagne”. Alongside globally renowned experts, Meiyume developed, mixed, and filled the final formulation for production. The essence concentration of the 9ml perfume is approximately 15%, and the fragrance can retain its scent for up to eight hours. The light hues of each fragrance were also mixed and designed to reflect different aroma notes reminiscent of summer, such as woody, fresh, or oceanic.

In addition to formulation, Meiyume sourced the packaging of the perfume. The scents are contained in glass bottles, a sustainable material that brings clarity to the product within and evokes a clean and cool-to-touch sensation. The fragrance is then packaged in a stand-up bottle with a spraying nozzle used to dispense the product. The cap design draws inspiration from the musical elements that transcends the entire EMOTIF concept and is made to look like the volume control knob found on a speaker.

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As of now, EMOTIF’s product offerings are reported to have been made available to users on WeChat (China’s popular instant messaging app) through the platform’s mini-program. The brand hopes to implement the sensory impact and individualism of fragrance to highlight importance of emotional and self-expression of younger audiences. ByteDance’s expansive global reach towards youth audiences has proven itself to have been a force to be reckoned with.

ToSummer aromatherapy experience retail store​    

The physical and sensorial impacts of fragrance were taken to the test when ToSummer hosted its first off-line flagship store, the "ToSummer living room", combining curved surfaces and design transformations within a 170m² space.[3]​ The exhibit’s use of extensive mirror effects combined with continued light, naturalistic materials, and colors enhance the ambiance of the space. 

The layout of the room is connected through a U-shaped channel, creating a naturally streamlined flow between a positive and negative that resembles a camera lens. A blend of material textures and simplistic interior design were implemented to physically showcase the sensory experience of fragrance. 

The naturalistic materials and colors enhance the ambience of the space[4]​, presenting the physical embodiment of the experiential effects of fragrance. Showcasing the physical sensations of fragrance onto a tangible, out of body surface, presents the minds ability to re-experience experiences solely based on aroma.

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ScentFluence fragrance search engine​    

Scent Marketing Inc. has streamlined its curated library of scents into a customized scent survey, ScentFluence. The survey provides categories for both businesses and individuals, with the goal of finding the perfect fragrance for any occasion. The survey holds two options, specifically “Scent For Your Life”, and “Scent For Your Business”. 

Once the survey is complete, the user is then directed to their extensive array of fragrance offerings, with over dozens of notes to choose from, whether it be in a room spray, candle or oil form. The purpose of their search engine is to match the perfect scent for an individual and a brand. The goal is to formulate an aromatic experience that forms a unique experience, and in turn, fortifies the identity and understanding for both individuals and brands.

Fragrance and music: Art meets art and Room 1015​    

Cult French brand Art Meets Art​ (A.M.A) combines the worlds of pop culture and scent. The brand crafts perfumes that hold an emotional resonance in the cultural collective memory of the masses based on pop music hits. 

While AMA produces fragrances based on bubbly 90s pop hits, Room 1015, produces fragrances inspired by the alternative radical rock n’ roll aesthetic of the 80s and 90s. Producer and founder Dr. Mike describes Room 1015 as, “Inspired by the story of one of the most thrashed hotel room in the history of Rock n’ Roll music, Room 1015 creates scents of nostalgic freedom.” Overall, the visual and cultural associations of music interwoven with a particular scent designed to enhance such experiences is what has allowed for the success of A.M.A and Room 1015. 

An exciting future for the fragrance industry

The implementation of mandated lockdowns during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic have led the masses to become hyper-aware of the importance of physical as well as emotional well-being. This increased emotional awareness has led consumers to seek out products that alleviate the everyday stressors of life. Even if it means enjoying a whiff of a scent that may be linked to a pleasant time of life, or nostalgic memory. The powerful impact of fragrance on human perception and experience is what will continue to fuel the innovative, on-trend and most importantly, emotionally resonating ways for businesses to reach consumers.

 [1]https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/02/how-scent-emotion-and-memory-are-intertwined-and-exploited/

 [2]https://daoinsights.com/news/bytedance-perfume-emotif-hits-shelves-taking-on-high-end-market-players/​ 

 [3]https://www.archdaily.com/959951/tosummer-aromatherapy-experience-fog-architecture​ 

[4]https://worldarchitecture.org/article-links/evhvg/f-o-g-architecture-creates-cavelike-interiors-with-mirrored-surfaces-for-aromatherapy-store.html

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