Sniffing out the future of fragrance

Sniffing out the future of fragrance, Sue Phillips

Customized perfumes and blend-it-yourself beauty, once the stuff of only boutiques and kitchen beauticians, are becoming more mainstream thanks to innovative indie brands and strategic acquisitions by big beauty. Sue Phillips was on the leading edge of both trends and has some pretty good ideas about what fragrance consumers will want next.

Founder of New York’s first custom perfumery, the Scentarium, Sue Phillips has decades of experience developing and marketing fragrance for top-tier companies including Elizabeth Arden, L’Oreal, and Tiffany & Co.

Phillips and her team at Scenterprises have been blending custom fragrances for individual clients, corporations, and groups since 2010. And she counts several prominent celebrities among her customers, including Katie Holmes, Zendaya, and Andy Karl.

And recently her company’s online custom-blended fragrance service began offering same-day delivery.

Late last month Cosmetics Design sat down with Phillips at the Scentarium in New York City to talk about all things fragrance and key in on the trends that will matter most to consumers in the years ahead.

The informed public

“Expertise and knowledge” will be defining aspects of fragrance development for brands and for marketers, Phillips tells Cosmetics Design.

Today’s beauty consumers are well informed and will only be savvier in the future, believes Phillips. “Customers are learning about fragrance and about the fragrance families,” she says; they understand the category more deeply than consumers conventionally have.

This means brands that are more transparent about the notes, blends, and performance of their scents will get the attention and business of shoppers who know what they’re looking for. Fragrance makers that demonstrate a deep expertise and attention to detail will be in high demand.

The responsible brand

Consumers will expect fragrance brands to connect their launches, products, and business more broadly to social causes, says Phillips. And she stresses that brands must be authentic in striving to meet this expectation.

A fragrance brand should take care to “find a germane cause that reflects the brand” in a meaningful way, she tells Cosmetics Design. These social-good initiatives will be effective only when they are authentic and enduring. Phillips believes that before long, consumers will spend strategically, ensuring they not only get a fragrance they love but that their purchase benefits the greater good at the same time.

Miscellany  

Beyond those two overarching trends Phillips shared several other interesting insights about the fragrance business with Cosmetics Design. She thinks, for instance, that the fragrance primer and finishing spray trend will soon pass. Both sorts of products, she explains “distort the fragrance.”

She’s optimistic about the future of digital scent technologies. And, she’s confident that custom perfume is here to stay. Customization correlates nicely with fragrance; and in her business she’s seen men asking for custom scents nearly as often as women. Phillips goes on to note that in the custom scent business there is “less of a distinction between men’s and women’s perfumes” than there is in the standard fragrance world.

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