Turning images into fragrances

Date of publication: June 15, 1991


Whilst all consumer products have both sensory and image properties which work together to influence the user's perception, the image content in fine fragrances is probably one of the highest. Consumer life style aspirations, self image and even their fantasies are given opportunity for expression by branded fragrances. The actual fragrance itself is also a work of art, appealing in subtle ways. Unfortunately, it has not proved easy to relate the two aspects by hard and reliable information. As a result when a new fragrance is being developed, the initial brief to the designer gives less than complete detail about the image characteristics which will form such an important part of the total consumer experience. Understanding what the relationship could be between images and fragrance properties offers the possibility that a fragrance can then be designed to satisfy and reinforce particular image characteristics, making the process image led, rather than product led. The paper illustrates how a combination of qualitative interview techniques linked with more formal product evaluation and multivariate statistical analyses can be used to discover how consumers see fragrances and how such perceptions relate to analytical descriptive sensory data, both for a total population and individuals, or segments within that population who might react differently. In conclusion the paper shows how such information may also be used to direct fragrance development by providing guidelines in respect to levels of characteristics required to maximise a given image. The work which is discussed is experimental, designed to show how certain techniques could work rather than a definitive study of the perfume market. Because of this, since the work was funded by ourselves, we are able to show the results in detail, but it should be remembered in reading them, that samples are small and therefore not necessarily typical of the entire market.

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