Firmenich: Ultra-natural ‘revolution’ in fine fragrance 2-5 years off

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

'Our biggest opportunity for tomorrow is to reconcile the desire for naturals and quest for luxury' - photo: Getty Images
'Our biggest opportunity for tomorrow is to reconcile the desire for naturals and quest for luxury' - photo: Getty Images

Related tags: firmenich, Fragrance, Fine fragrance, Natural beauty market, Natural fragrance, Natural fragrance ingredients, Synthetic fragrances, Luxury

Ultra-natural has taken hold across several beauty and personal care categories and fine fragrance will eventually make its mark with the right innovation and transparency focus, says a Firmenich executive.

Swiss fragrance and flavour major Firmenich recently held an exhibit called Carte Blanche at the Grasse Au Pays Des Merveilles festival held in the UNESCO-listed Grasse​ region of France. The exhibit gave space to nine fine fragrance perfumers to provide their long-term vision on ‘the perfumery of tomorrow’.

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, David Suffit Reedman, senior director of Fine Fragrance Development Europe at Fimenich said the event shed light on three key trends, important to the future of fine fragrance: freshness, addiction and naturals, the latter of which was most significant.

“The main trend in the market is this quest and idea around ultra-natural; being really close to nature and this wish to be very true to life,”​ Suffit Reedman said. “…This is something we really see from the consumer, this desire to be close to nature, and I think it’s one of our biggest opportunities.”

‘It’s not just an olfactory trend’

Asked when this trend might take hold in fragrances, particularly fine fragrances, Suffit Reedman said: “Probably in the next two to five years (…) Right now, it’s a very niche trend – you see specific companies venturing into this territory.”

The shift into naturals 'is going to take time', Suffit Reedman says - photo: Getty Images
The shift into naturals 'is going to take time', Suffit Reedman says - photo: Getty Images

The companies shifting into this space, he said, were manufacturing fragrances with 100% natural propositions - not entirely straightforward and not particularly associated with fine fragrance as it limited “a lot of creativity”, ​particularly around use of synthetic notes.

However, he said there was certainly scope for fine fragrance brands to tap into the naturals trend with the right focus, albeit behind categories like skin care and personal care.

“It does take time to move from this kind of more alternative market to more mainstream market and I think this one is a little bit more complex because it’s not just an olfactory trend. It’s not just what the fragrance is going to smell like, it’s more a revolution in how we formulate our ingredients and that’s going to take a little bit more time.

Reconciling naturals and luxury

Suffit Reedman said naturals would eventually be “everywhere” ​in the cosmetics and personal care space – straddling luxury and mass – but for fine fragrances, industry would have to focus on transparency to succeed.

“Our biggest opportunity for tomorrow is to reconcile the desire for naturals and quest for luxury. Rather than be in 100% naturals, we believe there’s something to be done in what we call ‘positive luxury’,” ​he said.

Positive luxury could be developed by using ingredients with alternative extraction methods or providing more detail on the environmental and social impact of a fragrance, among other things, he said. Last year, Firmenich launched its EcoScent Compass tool​ that measured the environmental, social and health impacts of its fragrances, for example.

“It’s all about transparency. You have to be very transparent with your clients and the consumer about the safety and positive dimension of the product,”​ Suffit Reedman said.

Transparency in fine fragrances remains a 'sensitive subject' - photo: Getty Images
Transparency in fine fragrances remains a 'sensitive subject' - photo: Getty Images

For fine fragrances, he said transparency was a “sensitive subject”​ because of the secrets behind the artistry of perfume making and so industry would have to find “the right way”​ to be transparent while maintaining the integrity and mastery of perfumery.

“We have to embrace [transparency] and not be afraid of it – it’s going to be absolutely necessary,”​ he said.

Digital transparency the future

Asked if there might be a future for food-like ingredient decks on luxury perfumes, Suffit Reedman said: “I think it’s very possible, but I don’t think it will ever be on the bottle itself; more so through digital tools or some kind of website or app that is going to give you a breakdown of ingredients.”

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