3 Unexpected Benefits from Reading Labels

I am thankful that, when I was a child, my father encourages me to read the complicated ingredients on the packaging of a product. This had the threefold benefit of:

  1. Not being afraid of chemical sounding names
  2. Demystify scientific-sounding terms (what is Aqua anyhow? )
  3. Encourages inquisitiveness. To become a life long learner. A reverse engineer.

As a child, I was surprised how for many products, like shampoo, their main constituent was water (er…I mean aqua). Now a father, aptly my own son reminds me how we human beings are in fact 70% water. So perhaps I shouldn’t have been too surprised after all!

Everyday Aromas & What Not to Do

Reading of the ingredients of products acts as a great springboard into understanding the use and overuse of certain aromas and notes (see next weeks blog post on Key Warnings in Creating and Positioning Luxury Products). The use of fragrance notes in everyday products is important to be mindful of not using the same when creating products for a luxury or premium market. You must ensure perfumes do not trigger associations that are associated with “every day”, “mundane” or “household” products. The slightest whiff or taste of something considered like this detrimental to a luxury product’s positioning.

In short, fragrance ingredients that are used in household products act as triggers thoughts and emotions associated with household and functional tasks which are at odds to being associated with a premium or ultra-premium luxury product.

Fabric Conditioner (Lenor)

I have photographed a pack of Lenor examined. You will see that it contains:

  1. Citronellol
  2. Coumarin
  3. Hexyl Cinnamal
  4. Limonene
  5. Linalool



Citronellol has a fresh, sweet, rosy smell. Being used in perfumes and with insect repellents [1]. The manufacturer adds it is “Widely used in many perfume compositions. Gives a clean, fresh, and natural rosy note to fragrances” [2]

In order to explore this ingredient more, I suggest purchasing a sample from Pell Wall. They describe the aroma as being: [3]

  • floral-rose
  • geranium
  • powdery
  • waxy
  • clean

To order a sample of Citronellol you can buy if from Pell Wall.


Tonka Beans

Photo by MercedesCC BY-SA 3.0

Coumarin is used in certain perfumes and fabric conditioners. [4] It’s name Coumarin comes from a French term for the tonka bean, coumarou, one of the sources from which coumarin was first isolated as a natural product in 1820. It has a sweet odor, readily recognised as the scent of newly-mown hay, and has been used in perfumes since 1882. Pell Wall describes it’s aroma as [5] :

  • sweet
  • hay
  • tonka
  • new-mown-hay

Coumarin is an ingredient with the olfactive perfume family of Fougère along with lavender and oakmoss. [6] 

Pell Wall quotes Steffen Arctander [7] with regard that it is a standard ingredient in Fougère types with Amyl Salicylate and Lavender-notes, with or without Oakmoss.

Read more on “Perfumery Material: Coumarin, Tonka Bean & the Fougere accord” here.

Read more on Coumarin at:



Hexyl Cinnamal

Jasmine - Hexyl cinnamal

Hexyl cinnamaldehyde (hexyl cinnamal) is a common additive in perfume and cosmetic industry as an aroma substance. It is found naturally in the essential oil of chamomile. [8]

Its aroma is described by Gerald Mosciano as being “Sweet, floral, green, citrus and fruity with powdery tropical spicy notes” [9]

Pell Wall describes Hexyl cinnamaldehyde as “One of the essential components of almost every jasmine recreation, this is a lovely soft floral material with only a slight spice note.” [10] He has described the aroma notes as being;

  • sweet
  • floral-jasmine
  • green
  • citrus-fruity
  • powdery
  • spicy


Limonene is the major component in the oil of citrus fruit peels. It takes its name from the peel of the lemon. [10] Limonene exists in two isomeric forms (compounds with the same molecular formula—in this case, C10H16—but with different structures), namely l-limonene and d-limonene [11]. The aroma of d-limonene (also called dextro-limonene, Orange Terpenes) is described at Pell Wall [12] as

  • fresh
  • sweet
  • sharp
  • orange

Read more on the prevalence of d-limonene use in household products and higher end perfumes at Pell Wall.

The aroma of l-limonene has a turpentine like scent mixed with pine . It’s prevalent as an alternative solvent for cleaning products [12].




Linalool is a terpene alcohol. It too exists in two different chemical forms [13]. (S)-(+)-linalool known as coriandrol. It has the aroma of sweet lavender with a touch of citrus. While (R)-linalool is known as licareol has a woody lavender smell. With it’s multiple commercial applications, the majority of which are based on its pleasant scent (floral, with a touch of spiciness) [14].

At Pell Wall, Linalool is described as having a scent of: [15]

  • fresh
  • floral-woody
  • sweet
  • citrus

Read more on Linalool at: http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/linalool/linaloolh.htm

Fragrance Descriptions for Teens…Good, Better and Best (part 2 of 2)

In the first part of this post we looked at right now how a massive shift in the lexicon of language and emotion description has occurred. This is especially important for young people in their teens. You should read the first part of this post for a greater understanding of the problem. Which is, in a nutshell, that fragrance descriptions are currently depended on highly sophisticated language which is not accessible. In order to communicate quickly, effectively and especially engagingly we must think unlike bygone times.

The Best

Inspired by football. A classic example of using pre-existing cultural symbols. A lesson in semiotics was in the development of the red card system of football matches. Yellow is a booking. Red means you are off for an early shower.

The idea of using language-neutral coloured cards to communicate a referee’s intentions originated in football, with English referee Ken Aston. After the 1966 quarter-finals between Argentina, newspaper reports stated that the German referee Rudolf Kreitlein had booked Bobby and Jack Charlton, and sent off Argentinian Antonio Rattan. Though all of this was oblivious to all those that were playing as communication had not occurred. Players, spectators and journalists where bewildered. The referee had not made his decisions clear during the game.

This incident started the referee Ken Aston thinking about ways to make a referee’s decisions clearer to both players and spectators. For Ken Aston, his question was how could you play the World Cup between different countries when the referee couldn’t make himself understood to the players?

“While I was driving the light turned red and I thought, ‘Yellow, calm down and red, stop, go out.’”

Aston realised that a colour-coding scheme based on the same principle as used on traffic lights?.  (yellow – stop if safe to do so, red – stop) would transcend language barriers and make it clear that a player had been cautioned or expelled. As a result, yellow cards to indicate a caution and red cards to indicate an expulsion were used. As Dave Trott said “That is real semiotics: communication without words.”  [6]

Key Questions

  1. How can we make ourselves understood to teen consumers with their new language?
  2. How can fragrance marketeers (like referees) transcend the problem of languages for international consumers and their level of comprehension?

Solution…We have the best cultural lexicon at our teen’s fingertips—emojis! I have used one emoji for the aroma (Smells – Left) and an accompanying emoji for emotion (Feels – Right).

Fragrance Descriptions More Suitable for Teens


?Smells+Feels for Teens

Can you decode this one?

Better Fragrance Descriptions For Teens

This is Fahrenheit by Christian Dior:  Fahrenheit

“An odd, wild, Petrol masculine start gives way to a then comforting floral quirky, feminine accord. With green chypres, wrapped with prominent leather and woods the final ending reminds of the great outdoors.”


My Method

Via the use of an Aroma Signature. It is created by decoding the emotions and aromas consumers find, then I wrote a fragrance description. Then I locate the one key emotion and the aroma that drives this emotions.

Applications beyond Marketing…This format is ideal for training retail duty free sales staff who quickly have to come to terms with thousands of fragrances, you could provide them with as summaries of the key accords, rewards and Need States in this format. Moreover, I also suggest that emojis make interesting puzzles for consumers to decode for advertising.

Verveine / Verbena—L’Occitane  

Aroma Signature: Emotional Effect Prioritised

Verveine / Verbena—L'Occitane

?Smells+Feels for Teens

Verveine / Verbena— L'Occitane - Fragrance Description For Teens

Boss Bottled—Hugo Boss

Aroma Signature: Emotional Effect PrioritisedBoss Bottled—Hugo Boss

?Smells+Feels for Teens

Boss Bottled — Hugo Boss - Fragrance Description For Teens

Terre D’Hermès—Hermès

Aroma Signature: Emotional Effect Prioritised

Terre D’Hermès — Hermès

?Smell+Feels for Teens

Terre D’Hermès — Hermès — Fragrance Description For Teens

What do you think? I would like to hear your views below…

Fragrance Descriptions for Teens…Good, Better and Best (part 1 of 2)

Dank fragrance descriptions are an important part of our marketing communications. Don’t worry if you didn’t know the word Dank— a teen word used to describe something that is considered good. They are at the forefront of a seismic linguistic shift. In order to reach teens with our descriptions we require a new means of writing fragrance descriptions. However, my research has highlighted that a Graduate Level Language of English is required in order to read some Perfume Descriptions.

Within this two part article I suggest for teens we reduce the number of words contained in olfactory descriptions. Turning instead to using a system of commonly held cultural icons instead. In the spirit of both perfumers Christophe Laudamiel (transparency.[1]) and Sophia Grojsman (simplify[2]*) I propose a clearer and more effective method for fragrance descriptions. I look at the Good, Better and Best Fragrance Descriptions for Generation Z [3]. To use a lexicon that already communicates commonly held emotions, flavours, beliefs and occasions—namely emojis.

The Problem

Our goal as fragrance marketers is to communicate what the key fragrance benefits are. Sophia Grojsman succulently said:

“I like to create fragrances that make a woman feel happy and beautiful”

In marketing speak we like to communicate this. Via telling a fragrance’s: 

  • Emotional Reward
  • Suitability to most important Need States
  • How it supports Identity
  • Wrapped in a clear and understandable and desirable Fragrance Description

Yet reaching Generation Z who are so comfortable with technology and social media has led to both massive struggles for old strategies of business and gains for new approaches in the beauty space[4].  This is heading our way now in the fragrance category. To ensure we reach and bring new people into this category we must as perfume marketeers communicate in a way that connects, engages, imparts truth, is memorable and is applicable to the situation and needs of the consumer. We must relate to and meet young consumers where they are and transport them to where they are going or wanting to go (via emotional, self-image/thought or projected self-support). Or even pure good old fashioned pleasure!

Let us first look a in store Duty-Free  Fragrance Description.

I like how it uses both scent terms and emotions here. For example,their combining Tuberose with sensuality* (see below). However. I have used an online analyser in order to calculate the difficulty of this text.  It has a College Graduate and above reading level. This means our shopper would require a UNIVERSITY EDUCATION OR ABOVE! in order to decide whether to buy this. (Linsear Write Formula =17[5] )

Duty Free Fragrance Descrption

Wild and Crystalline waves in their marine power exalt the Mint and Laurel Oak sense, which enhance the frozen soul. Head

Tuberose sensuality*, refinement and grace of Gardenia, fruity transparent and almost unripe shades of melon, to hide between the flowers and red ribbons of Carnation. Heart

Cardamon to leave the shiver’s remains Pink Berries, Vanillin, Musk, Dry woods. Base

This marketing material is from an Eastern European Duty-Free Shop—where English is not the primary language spoken, plus we require consumers hold a degree level education and know English fluently. While this might appeal to those with highly sophisticated linguistic abilities we exclude both younger-mid teens and native language speakers.

The Good

Here we are on board with Easy Jet. Perhaps more our Generation Z demographic. Are they hitting the right note?

Fragrance Descriptions - Easy Jet In Flight Magazine

Yes, it is far better. Again using the same online text analyser. Even though it has a Reading Level of still “difficult to read” it is a lower Reader’s Age of 5-17 yrs. old (Tenth to Eleventh graders).

I still think we have some way to go.

For new consumers entering the category, this is confusing. In order to grow sales, we must be remove barriers and language is a sticking point.

Continue to Part 2