St. Valentine’s Day is approaching and many fragrance brands are preparing for the annual celebration of love. While the celebration of St. Valentine around the world becomes more similar, perfume perception has significant differences. Love is universal, but is fragrance cultural? How can global fragrance brands better understand and satisfy consumers from different countries?
We can all agree that fragrance perception is subjective. My taste for perfume can largely differ from my sister’s. However, it has been proven that there are some significant cultural differences in olfactory sensitivity. What is sweet for Europeans, might not be so sweet for Americans. What is too spicy for Americans might not be spicy enough for a consumer from Middle East, and so on. We Europeans prefer “fresh” smells, but does the “fresh” mean the same thing in Asia?
Climate largely influences olfactory perception. For example, warm weather reinforces a fragrance. But there is also a cultural dimension that is important. How is a strong perfume perceived when we go to the work in Europe and in States? Does the use of fragrance depend on your social status? What does perfume represent for people living in big urban spaces and those living in small cities? Do men in China and Germany wear similar amounts of fragrance?
According to PRNewswire, “For the men’s fragrance market, China’s culture places value on subtlety, and Chinese men generally prefer a light perfume, so with the great volume of cologne fragrances, one can expect China’s culture to influence men’s fragrances of choice.”
Thus, the cultural values are the basis of fragrance perception.
We can say that fragrance perception has multiple facets and it requires better consumer understanding. So can a perfume be co-created with consumers? Of course. Especially if we take into account that fragrance has not just olfactory, but also emotional and cultural dimensions. Co-creation can help to understand what are these driving forces behind simple consumer needs. Involving consumers in the creative process can lead to knowing what fragrance represents to them coming from different parts of the world, how their lifestyles influence fragrance use, and what specific local scent preferences are. Then, fragrance companies can translate these insights into a perfume’s development, packaging innovation, fragrance store experience enrichment, and so on.
Finally, remember – perfume is something magical, something that leads to dream world, and this peculiar alchemy can only come from creative process.