Fragrance Innovation: Beauty Shopping Experience Will Evolve

Talk of digitized fragrance is nothing new.  If you are a cooking show fan, you have probably wished that you could smell what was cooking on tv.  Rachel Ray often jokes about the need for “smell-o-vision”.  I always loved the Jetson’s as a kid.  I am certainly ready for Rosie, the Jetson’s live-in robot to help me out with these chores!  We may not yet have flying cars, but it seems we are living in times where digitized fragrance has become a reality.  The possibilities excite me for the beauty world.  Fragrance has always been the subtle way of heightening a customer’s emotional experience but now we can use it to connect to people through their cell phones.

International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) is an international powerhouse bringing the sensory aspect of products to major households and luxury brands.  In April, they announced a partnership with Cyrano, a new digital scent speaker system.  With the download of an app Onote, you can choose many different mood enhancing settings.  “Get Relaxed” , “Get Free”, and “Get Energized” is only the beginning of all the feels.  The Cyrano cartridges are replaceable while the overall size of the system fits in the cupholder of your car.  The unit retails for $149.99 and cartridges are $19.99. 

Surprisingly, Cyrano is not the only game in town.  Scientist Adrian Cheok has also created a handheld digital fragrance device beginning its life as a novelty in Britain two years ago.  Scentee is a small device as well and not much larger than an Eos lip balm that connects to your phone along with an app.  It emits a vapor similar to an e-cigarette creating an aromatic experience as the unit glows bright blue.  It is possible for 300,000 unique aromas to fill the air.  Available flavors include: bacon, coffee, buttered potato and more.  I don't know about you, but they had my attention at bacon!

At this point of my career, I should not be so easily “sold”.  Unapologetically, I am a sucker for fragrance.  If it smells amazing, somehow I am convinced its function is equally impressive.  I fall for it every time.  Many stores we shop use fragrance to their advantage.  Carefully curated fragrances fill the air to subconsciously draw us in, create a mood or feeling, and connect us emotionally to a product.  When we are all done with the product we begin to miss the fragrance and buy more.  

The power of fragrance in beauty is beyond dispute.  I am not alone in having worked with brands that have a signature scent carefully designed before even a name is chosen.  A face cream, lotion, or any other beauty potion could be a miracle product except with the wrong fragrance it is a dud.  A fragrance is a driving force behind return customers.  Do we become addicted to the fragrance or the moment it brings us back to?  I myself love when a friend notices the fragrance of a new product I am wearing.  This is a typical conversation about the haircare line I am wearing in my hair.  It always results in a description of the product and I usually receive a text message from my friend letting me know they purchased my suggestion and they too smell delicious!  It all starts with the smell they recognized having not stepped one foot in a store.  This new technology will allow us to harness that transaction and convert it even more to online sales. 

As Amazon takes over the attention of consumers forcing many brick and mortar locations to keep up or close their doors, we also lose certain experiences classic to shopping in a physical store.  The lighting, fragrance and fashion choices of associates all contribute to the background esthetic of your shopping experience.  Professionally, I of course have a strong appreciation for brand’s digital strategy but sometimes there is just nothing like feeling, touching, and smelling a product up close and personal.  I can’t wait to see where these digital fragrance platforms take our industry.  It has the potential to bring back my favorite part of shopping even if I’m just clicking away on my phone.

Amazon is a shopper’s dream allowing you to receive deliveries within as little as an hour.   Amazon’s Echo is becoming our real life Rosie the Jetson’s robot.  It can hear your verbal orders and place them for you.  At the same time, this can be a nightmare for a small business owner looking to compete.  The retail experience is on its head and beauty brands large and small are racing to digitize their business strategy.  It makes sense that fragrance was next. Beauty brands will now begin to take it seriously that fragrance has been transformed into a radio wave.  Brands will harness that much more of the remote shopping experience and recreate a more emotionally connected shopper in the convenience of their home.  

Beauty brands, hair salons, cosmetics boutiques, or any other beauty business - continue to digitize your product and services.  How will your brand incorporate digitized fragrance in your brand strategy?