BERLIN/HANOI: Commercial scents are created in a laboratory but they need to take account of the local context in which they are experienced, as fragrance manufacturer IFF discovered during a global research project.

Perfumers are very creative, Michiel Albrecht, global consumer insights manager at IFF, told the recent Qual350 conference in Berlin “but if they speak to consumers they don’t have a clue which ingredients they need to use if the consumer talks about ‘fresh’ or ‘clean’.”

And these concepts are basic to laundry products like detergents and fabric softeners. The ritual of putting on fresh, clean clothes has a psychological effect, Albrecht added. “It makes you comfortable, reassured, happy and ready for the day.”

His research project was about scouting for global opportunity areas, but it also took deep dives into individual countries, revealing particular nuances that laundry marketers have to deal with.

In Vietnam, for example, the concept of ‘freshness’ in Hanoi, in the north with four seasons, is different from that in Ho Chi Minh City, in the tropical south. (For more details, read WARC’s report: The sweet smell of success: how IFF brought ‘freshness’ to market in Vietnam.)

And the cramped conditions in which many people live bring additional challenges around the laundry task – drying clothes in a narrow street means they can pick up ambient odours for example.

“They use a lot of detergent and a lot of fabric conditioner to try to intensify the smell,” said Albrecht. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Web and mobile research detected general trends around laundry and highlighted some possible directions for new scents – green bean ice-cream, lotus flowers, matcha – which fed into focus groups.

Smelling sessions helped identify three main freshness benefits – clean (seaside freshness), fresh (spring flowers), care (family and skin care) – which formed the basis of the creation of several new fragrances that were tested in people’s homes,.

“We create the fragrance in an artificial way but we cannot influence the environment [in which they’re used],” said Albrecht. “The living is crucial.”

The outcome, he reported, was two new scent accords in seven months and “a great scent to commercialise”.

Sourced from WARC