3 Scent Design Trends

Earlier this month I attended a one-to-one workshop called “Création d’une Eau de Toilette”, creation of a perfume with Michele Dulac from Grasse. Yet a ‘workshop’ wasn’t the best way to describe it; it was much more than that. It was an inspirational introduction to the Emotions from Essential Oils. It was highly interesting as it has brought our work at Insight on Foods full circle.

The trainer, a nose with over 30 years experience in fragrance creation and marketing, covered all nine essential oils:

  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Bergamot
  • Mandarin
  • Verbena
  • Neroli
  • Petitgrain
  • Tarragon
  • Lavender

Whilst I loved learning about the classification of perfumes, my biggest takeaway from Michele Dulac was about the emotional design of a scent. It was a revelation of how perfumers approach scent design. Like my NPD approach at Insight on Food, we are first and foremost concerned with emotion, and its effect on taste, rather than the other way round.

As in food, fragrance is associated with the emotions in fashion at the time.  These emotions  go in and out of fashion. We have realised the potential for food and drink companies to exploit this link and developed an approach to NPD and advertising that would enable them to do so.

Seeing that scent designers approach their work in this way was a great confirmation of our approach; a validation so to speak!

Michele is a perfumer who knows about the emotion of fragrance. I plucked these three main takeaways from her insights. I’m sure there will be more over the coming months, as I process them. But, for now, here are my “ three scent” takeaways to share with you:

1. “Aah, Cedar,” thrilled Michelle. “It was once from Lebanon. Although after the energy crisis of the 1970’s a need arose for a cleaner smell, not so animalistic and musky. A cleaner smell was more presentable at job interviews” – henceforth there has been a growth in the use of Virginian cedar as its suited for men who wanted a cleaner smell.

2. What’s happening, according to Michelle, is “due to the increase in fear and terror. We are seeing a rise in the use of comforting notes in fragrance.” The types of scents are vanilla, sweet jam, mandarin”. They are welcoming, homely, foody and safe.

3. A dichotomy exists between Urban & Rural consumer’s emotional response. Michelle notes depending on whether you were raised in the city or countryside you have a distinct response to Petitgrain (the essential oil distilled from bitter orange tree’s leaves and twigs). These differences are fascinating as a country girl, she finds it triggers fond memories of her and her father collecting mushrooms. However, for most of us urbanites, we don’t find them as appealing. “They don’t have the same associations as country people. They tend to be more reminiscent of wetness some associate with damp underground storage in the city.”

I was impressed with Michelle’s depth of insight how she ties the fragrance with emotions they generated. The bottom line is that your fragrance, like food, to be successful must fit in with the emotions of the day.  To do that it has to impart, at its core, a relevant message. It has to answer our basic needs.

Nathaniel Davis