By Creezy Courtoy, IPF Founder and Chair and Perfume Anthropologist
Understanding Scent Preferences for Creating and Distributing Fragrances
Distributing a perfume in several countries can be a real challenge. It can be just a failure for famous brands, but a dangerous game for small brands who can financially lose everything. In the art of fragrance creation, understanding the anthropology of perfume is essential. By delving into the diverse scent preferences shaped by culture, region, and individual sensitivities, fragrance creators can craft scents that resonate on a deeper level. The ability to influence others through the strategic use of preferred scents becomes more attainable when armed with the knowledge of anthropology of perfume. So, let's embrace the rich tapestry of scent preferences and create fragrances that captivate the senses and forge lasting connections.
Men and women have long recognized the power of scents in influencing their fellow humans. While it is impossible to predict exactly how an individual will respond to a particular smell, psychologists have discovered intriguing connections between odors and memories. For example, a single floral scent can evoke memories of a crowded elevator, a funeral, an old boyfriend's excessive aftershave, or even the onset of hay fever. Despite the varying responses, scientific investigations have revealed common preferences among sexes, cultures, age groups, and personality types. By understanding these preferences, perfumers can safely select the countries where their products will be successful.
Cultural Influences on Scent Preferences
Cultures play a significant role in shaping scent preferences and the ways in which scents are used. Let's explore some fascinating examples:
The Japanese: Perfuming Daily Life
In Japanese culture, scent has permeated almost every aspect of daily life. From personal care products to household items, the Japanese have cultivated a deep appreciation for fragrance. They even engage in games with friends and family that involve identifying various smells. Understanding the importance of scent in Japanese culture can provide valuable insights when creating fragrances for this audience.
In contrast, the Anglo-Saxon approach to scent is more understated.
Publicly smelling one's food or wine is considered uncouth in their culture. However, the bouquet of wine and the taste of food both heavily rely on the sense of smell. Anglo-Saxons prefer subtler scents when it comes to personal fragrance, avoiding being too "obvious." Respect for cultural norms is crucial when designing fragrances for this audience.
Across different cultures, there are notable variations in scent preferences. For instance, Orientals appreciate heavy, spicy, and animalistic perfumes. Valerian root extract, which is detested by most Europeans, is favored in Oriental cultures. On the other hand, Asians may struggle to understand the Western love for pungent cheeses. Recognizing these cultural differences is essential for creating fragrances that resonate with specific target markets.
Regional Influences on Fragrance Choices
Apart from cultural influences, regional factors such as climate and environment also shape fragrance preferences.
Northern Europeans, living in colder climates, often prefer heavier fragrances that provide warmth and comfort. In contrast, Mediterraneans are drawn to sophisticated floral scents, likely due to their love for being surrounded by flowers. Taking these climate-based preferences into account can enhance the effectiveness of fragrance creations.
Universally Pleasant Smells and Aversions
While there are cultural and regional variations, it is safe to say that there is a broad agreement within the human race about what smells pleasant and what doesn't. Most people appreciate flower and fruit scents, while being repulsed by foul odors such as rotten eggs, fish, or stagnant drains. Understanding these universally pleasant and unpleasant smells can guide fragrance creators in developing appealing and attractive scents.
People's responses to scents can also vary based on their individual sensitivities, as well as the influence of education, societies, and marketing.
Therefore, do not miss your opportunity to sell and distribute successfully your perfumes worldwide.
Learn more about the Anthropology of Perfume and get ready for your perfume distribution.
By Terry Johnson, IPF Chair USA and Busines and Marketing Expert
Competition in today’s markets has never been stronger.
Yet, I continually see examples of natural perfume and natural essence businesses that have not made many adjustments to their sales efforts to overcome the fierce competitive headwinds brought on by a deadly pandemic, numerous supply chain issues, and high inflation. These conditions have seriously changed consumer perspectives and require frequent reviews of sales and marketing strategies to reflect current realities rather than relying on consumer preferences and priorities that no longer exist.
You and everyone working with you should put on their selling hats for a while and focus on how to get consumers needing to purchase your products at premium prices, not just wanting to.
In the High-Value Natural Perfume consumer market, the first order of business is to identify every potential value feature of your products and incorporate those value features into selling benefits for consumers justifying premium pricing you need to charge.
When consumers see something for sale that appears attractive to them, they determine the level of value that the product could provide them, and then they check the price. If the level of value is above the price, they are more likely to buy. If the level of value is below the price, they are less likely to make a purchase.
Selling the value and benefits of your products greatly increases the likelihood of closing the sale profitably.
Here are 7 solid tips on strengthening and updating your Natural Perfumes and Essences selling strategies:
Terry Johnson is teaching and consulting at The Natural Perfumery Teacher's Academy. If you want to learn more about Business and Marketing in the Natural Essences World, you can follow his course or contact us for consultancies.
By Françoise Rapp, IPF France Chair and Natural Perfumery Expert
How to professionalize and structure your scent design for more ease and efficiency?
The creation of a perfume is much more than an assembly of natural raw materials. Each natural essence each containing up to 300 molecules, their mastery in the composition of perfumes can prove to be perilous. A beautiful perfume is well thought out and inspired but above all well-constructed so that each ingredient is in its right place to better delight the senses. Being a natural perfumer requires different talents, both artistic and technical. Being a perfumer is a profession that can be learned, and it is important to master the fundamental basics if you want legitimacy.
How to organize your perfume organ and select quality natural essences is learned by mastering olfactory evaluations and by reading technical documents provided by suppliers. How to make and follow your stock, make accurate weighings, and above all learn effective methods which are real guides in the composition of a structured perfume.
Counting drops in the development of a perfume has no place.
You must do the weighings and learn how to do them well to design reliable and serious documents. From experience, I have met many natural perfumers who proceed with counting drops, and then often find themselves in the delicate position of not being able to produce their perfumes even on a scale of a few dozen bottles. In addition, they lose all legitimacy and seriousness during exchanges with other professionals. Most of them lack a technical mastery of weighing, working with automated calculation tables, and understanding the reading of technical documents of the raw materials with which they worked. One step was missing: that of a more in-depth method.
If you work without real knowledge of these aspects, there will always come a time when the harmonious business development of your company will be limited. This is why I have designed two effective methods and processes to deepen the fundamental bases of perfumers so that they can design natural perfumes of high olfactory quality with mastery. These two distinct methods are adapted according to distinct projects and inspirations as well. The HEART® and SPLIT® method have proven themselves over nearly 26 years of various experiments! The HEART® method, for example, is perfectly suited to so-called thematic perfumes whose inspiration is a raw material, an olfactory family for example. The SPLIT® method applies to so-called feelings, history, and memories projects. This last method helps to tell a story, to develop it even if the basis of a perfume is to take our client on an imaginary journey, this method will be more targeted in its structure for an effective rendering. Practicing and following these two methods not only allows you to build a beautiful perfume but also to magnify your first inspiration.
In the creation of a beautiful natural perfume, each step is important:
From the quality of the raw materials, to their selection for the project, to meticulous dosage formulations, and to the design of tools such as formulation tables to professionally preserve and ensure their successful development.
If you work as an independent perfumer for brands, this is another subject because you must communicate precise documents so that the formulas are easily reproducible by service providers.
This is how the Scent Design & Formula-Building masterclass brings all this mastery accompanied by many blank documents that you can use throughout your career as a natural perfumer. These are real supports in addition to two methods whose processes are clearly explained. This masterclass is suitable for all perfumers and natural perfumers who wish to go further in the professionalisation of their work and thus succeed in their passion.
Enroll now for the Scent Design & Formula Building Masterclass
Session opens each first Monday of the month. Next session opens on March 6.
Multiple payments available.
By Creezy Courtoy, World Perfume Historian and Anthropologist
My first passion has always been the impressive history of perfume and I could never think the way I think today if I did not spend all my life collecting perfume antique artworks and searching for the true perfume history. When you start searching, it never ends and still today I am looking for something; each piece leading me to more research.
In the Arab World, perfume was precious, it was considered as pure gold. Let me invite you to follow me on the history of perfume in that part of the world.
Circa 4000 B.C., the Sumerians built the first City States such as Sumer,
Ur, Uruk or Nippur, along rivers.
“Mesopotamia” literally means “the country between the two rivers”.
Located between Tiger and Euphrates, this region currently corresponds to
Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Southern Turkey and Israel.
Cuneiform writing carved onto the clay tablets reveals formulas and perfumes used by these ancient populations since the middle of the third millennium B.C.
Lebanese cedar, cypress and myrtle were the three most used fragrances. Originally, the gods loved natural perfume and got close to those who wore them. This is why the servants of the temple covered their bodies with myrtle oils before carrying out the rituals and the offerings to the numerous gods. Perfumes were reserved to divinities, kings and temple worship.
Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, lived a rather eventful life, characterized by his vain quest for immortality. Perfume, the most noble and precious element then made its way into his alchemy research.
The relation between medicine and gods was very close.
One of the healing gods was the two-headed snake Ningishzida. The snake, symbol of eternal life, might have been the first icon of caducei. His name in Sumerian is translated as “lord of the good tree”.
About 1000 years later, the Akkadians replaced the Sumerians and created the first empire of the world ruled by Sargo the Ancient.
Phoenicians sailors and traders settled on the coast of Lebanon and build colonies in Cyprus, Crete, sicilia, malta and Northern Africa.
Tyr, their capital, having enjoyed a permanent relation with Egypt and Mesopotamia, became one of the most important ports.
Circa 1900 B.C., Babylonians replaced Akkadians.
Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.), created the powerful empire of Babylon.
Babylon remained the main warehouse of spices from all over the world for a long time. It received spices from India and from the Persian Gulf, scented gums from Arabia and balms from Judea.
Nabuchodonosor I (1124 B.C.) had his palace built with cedar beams and cypress doors that smelled kilometers away.
According to Herodotus, over 1000 talents of pure incense were burnt every year on the altar of Belus. Zoroaster prescribed the use of perfumes on altars five times a day.
In the hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, all the scented plants were showcased. According to Diodorus, (Greek columnist of the 1st century, contemporary of Julius Caesar) cedar, mimosa, Arabian jasmine, lily, crocus, iris, violet and rose, gave the Kingdom the reputation of owning the most beautiful roses of the Ancient Orient.
Chaldeans, circa 600 B.C., represented the last civilization of Mesopotamia with two famous Kings: Nabopolassar and Nabuchodonosor II.
They inherited a great culture, developed astronomy, astrology and added all this science to the Art of Perfumery.
Plants and resins must be collected at certain times in the day, or at a precise moment in the year in order to reinforce their efficiency.
The fall of Babylon, conquered by the Persians in 539, did not upset the trade of perfumes.
Focused on the fringes of the desert, the caravan kingdoms owed an important part of their prosperity to the trade of perfumes. Sidon (then Carthage) replaced Babylon as the capital of perfume and spices. For the Cananeans as well as for Babylonians, Phoenicians and Sabaeans, perfumes and spices were both pure gold and divine message.
For thousands of years, they carefully preserved the trade and even caused wars.
Arabia Felix, also called the “Fertile Crescent”, stretched from Oman to the Suez Gulf and across its length were paths taken by the caravans.
Called “The Perfume Roads”, these ancient trails linked the south to the North of this continent and crossed the deserts of one of the oldest countries in the world. To ensure the security of the trade on The Perfume Roads, in the 10th century B.C., Balkis, the Queen of Sheba organized a meeting with Solomon, the Hebrew King...
If, like me, you are impassioned by World Perfume History, I will be happy to transmit my knowledge to you and tell you more about the Perfume History in the Arab World.
We definitely need more perfume history teachers to make sure the perfume heritage will be preserved and transmitted to the next generations.
By Terry Johnson, IPF Vice Chair and Business and Marketing Expert in the Natural Perfumery Environment
When great people pass, we often reflect on what made them great in the first place. I say this having seen the widespread tributes and sympathy for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away after 70 years on the throne; which begs the question:
How will your Natural Essence business be remembered?
Will your business have a positive legacy because of where and when you began your business? Or how much money your business made?
Or will it be because what you did with your business made the world a better place for it being here?
The driving force behind a memorable business legacy comes from starting with a clear Vision/Purpose that includes what you believe will make the world a better place, and then successfully executing the Mission based on your Vision to make the world a better place.
Everyone in the Natural Essence Community should consider the amazing opportunities we have to demonstrate to consumers how valuable Natural Essences and products made from Natural Essences are to consumers. Consumers will appreciate how much these Natural Essences contributed to their long-term wellness and well-being and will be far more likely to develop strong, lasting brand loyalty to those who provided them with superior products and services.
Here are several Action Steps to help you achieve a memorable business legacy:
1. Understand and Follow the New Luxury Code of Respect.
The New Luxury Code is a great starting point because it continually reminds us of the importance of respect, beginning with self-respect and then expanding outward from there. Mutual respect between members of the High-Value Natural Essence Community is necessary for development of better working relations and supply chain efficiencies within the entire Community.
2. Be the Expert in your Community
Now more than ever, consumers are looking for ways to improve their well-being for themselves and for their families. The pandemic has changed consumer purchasing behaviors and preferences creating opportunities for everyone in Natural Essences. This means first educating yourselves and then passing on what you’ve learned to the communities you do business with. If you haven’t already, head to IPF’s Teacher’s Academy for up-to-date courses to educate yourself so that you can effectively teach others.
3. Pass on the Fascinating Heritage of Natural Essences
Those who read Creezy Courtoy’s The Perfume Roads understand the tremendous impact perfumes and other natural essences have had on human wellness worldwide for millennia. Much of this heritage is in danger of being lost forever, and it should be the responsibility of the Natural Essence Community to preserve this heritage and educate consumers of its importance.
4. Support Our Bees
What will be our legacy for children and grandchildren if we leave a world to them without flowers?
Flowers and plants largely depend on pollination for their survival, yet despite this fact bees are being threatened and need to be protected, made healthy, and kept busy. Get to know more about bees and their importance and then educate consumers on how vital bees are to our future and what they can do about protecting them. Without bees, we have nothing.
5. Make an impact by Selling Superior Products!
No one should expect consumers to have a superior experience from using products that are not superior to begin with. On the other hand, products that provide superior results are always remembered! Your Natural Essence business has the power to touch and influence many lives and making a conscious effort to sell superior products assures your business will remain relevant and impactful with consumers in the long term.
Enroll for a Business and Marketing Course in the Natural Perfumery Environment with Terry Johnson
By Creezy Courtoy, World Perfume History Expert and Teacher
Located in Uttar Pradesh, Kannauj is a small, dusty town spreading along the banks of river Ganga.
It is one such amazing place that has a centuries - old legacy of producing long-lasting perfumes and is often compared to Grasse, France. The perfumes that made Grasse popular are Jasmine, Centifolia Rose, Lavender, Orange blossom and wild Mimosa, a very different palette compared to the Sandalwood, Cedar, Heena, Jasmine, Attar Mitti, Kewda Marigold and Damascena Rose of Kannauj.
The process of making perfume has been mentioned in the scriptures of Ayurveda since ancient times.
In some Vedas, prescriptions of 3500 years old, mention fumigation of aromatic woods. It is written in the Vedas that when Yajnas were performed a lot of things went into it as a sacrifice. A foul smell used to emulate when meat was sacrificed, so in order to eliminate the smell aromatic ingredients were offered into the fire. Thus, the art of extracting scents from different substances began. Legend ascribes the invention of distillation to an Indian Princess named Nùr Djihân. In 1568, on the morning of her wedding with Akbar, the Mongol Emperor, Nur noticed foam vapors floating to the surface of a rosewater fountain. From then on, she understood the process of distillation, the most common way to extract essential oil from a plant.
In Kannauj perfumes are prepared with the help of the hydro-distillation process. Nickel plated copper vessels are used as they do not rust.
1. Flowers are soaked in water and heated in containers
2. Condensers are filled with oil.
3. On boiling, the vapour of the flowers passes through the hollow bamboo pipes into a condenser.
4. The oil present in the condenser absorbs the vapour’s fragrance.
5. This process continues for around five hours and excess water is separated from oil after the condenser completely cools down.
6. As per the quality of perfume, the process is continued on the same oil for 30 days.
Can you ever think of using the smell of rain to make perfume?
When you set your foot into the perfume capital of India and try amazing perfumes there, it feels ‘time just stops’. Kannauj will sweep you away in an era of attars. From ancient emperors like Shah Jahan to modern Kings of the Middle East, attar, the Indian perfume is largely preferred to most high-end branded fragrances.
How many fragrances can you think of when talking about attars and perfumes?
Just the basic ones like a rose, sandalwood, jasmine oil and other common fragrance. Can you ever think of using the smell of rain to make perfume? Villagers at Kannauj can make this possible by reproducing the aromatic fragrance of rain.
Have you ever heard of Attar Mitti ?
Attar Mitti, also known as itr–e–khaki is one of the unique attars found in Kannauj The redolence of this attar has a sweet blend of woody note of the Sandalwood and an earthy smell of clay.
Attar Mitti is a co distillation of earthen clay pots with the steam bearing the scent of the soil, the clay is infused over sandalwood oil. Over several rounds of distillation / infusion the base oil is imbibed with the smell of the clay till it starts smelling of petrichor. The attar known as Attar Mitti is fancied by end consumers trying to get as close to the olfactory sense of the rain. It also is used by the perfumers to inculcate an earthy note in their perfume compositions.
Are you looking for more knowledge about India Perfume History ?
Enrol for Creezy Courtoy's World Perfume History Master Class