Opened in 2018, The Alchemist Atelier is the brainchild and consumer-facing brand of Noustique – a Spanish perfumery joint venture created in 2018 by German home appliance manufacturer BSH Hausgerate and fashion and fragrance major Puig. Headed up by two ex-engineers from BSH’s innovation department, Noustique and its brand The Alchemist Atelier offered an at-home personalised perfume device that enabled consumers to design and blend formulas from a collection of 16 pre-designed accords and 18 add-ins. The same device was used in its Paris store.
Personalised perfumes ‘for everyone’
But can a €350 ‘scent creator’ machine inspired by cocktail-making truly take off in the home of regular consumers?
“Our objective is to make personalised perfumes available for everyone,” said Alvaro Suarez, CEO of Noustique.
“To go and create a fragrance with a perfumer normally costs €3,000 and up. This device is for anyone who loves perfumes,” Suarez told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
Hugo Lasala, chief technology officer at Noustique, added: “People are getting tired of standard solutions. No matter how much we pay for a product, regarding fashion, accessories or anything like this, everyone tries to be individual.
“…Today, we have so many influences from everywhere saying ‘buy this’, ‘act like this’, and I believe people want to find something that they can really feel unique with. This is a deep motivation that will always be.”
And, the perfume industry was yet to truly provide this to consumers, Lasala said. “Why would I buy a big bottle of perfume to always use the same product? Why don’t I change it every day? It’s more fun. You change your clothes every day, why don’t you change your perfume depending on the occasion or mood?”
Perfume making – the ‘creative’ and the ‘social sharer’
Suarez said the offer to design customised perfume blends appealed to a wide range of consumers, and currently The Alchemist Atelier had identified two clear user profiles: those with a creative or artistic background who used perfume as another way to express themselves and those who could be coined ‘social sharers’ – using perfume making to connect with others and enjoy in a group.
Lasala said it was especially interesting to look at how these two consumer groups used the device differently.
“The creative normally spends one day per week creating something new and they produce small samples – 2ml or 3ml (…) If they like something, they produce a bigger bottle, but they use the perfume making as a way of releasing creativity. And then the social user typically doesn’t use it every week, but when they use it, they use it a lot because they’re not alone. Suddenly you have 70ml of perfume produced in one day.”
Understanding usage and engagement trends was hugely important for the company when considering how to drive business forward, he said. “We are iterating and learning all the time.”
Perfume creation shared – ‘an Instagram of perfumes’
Where The Alchemist Atelier concept got particularly interesting, Lasala said, was how the device was linked to an app that enabled consumers to share formulas with others on the network.
“You can post and publish your formula, create a name and a description so it’s made available for any other user to download and use it. And they can then test it and comment on it. In the end, that was the idea: it’s an Instagram of perfumes.”
The brand was obviously way off the same interaction volumes as Instagram, he said, and the app would need additional functionality to drive more traction, but it was an interesting offer that could be evolved and developed further.
Suarez said a slow and steady approach was all part of the company’s plan. “The first few years – we call them incubation years. It’s about understanding the consumers and working out the most promising group of people. And once we understand this and the market potential, that’s when we think about the ramp up.”
So, was The Alchemist Atelier close to finalising its incubation years?
“We are close to ending the incubation phase, yes, but we need one more year or maybe six months,” said Lasala.
The company was already starting to get a good understanding of its consumers, Suarez said – many of whom were engaged and open to changing fragrance consumption habits which was “magical”.
Innovation ahead in personalised perfumery?
Suarez said the ‘scent creator’ device’s size and luxurious design meant it was currently equally suited to the home or retail stores, enabling the brand to capture consumers directly and indirectly, but there was potential to design other versions in the future.
“You can move towards a more professional device or create a smaller, cheaper, portable device,” he said, though that was a long way off for the time being.
Lasala added: “For the moment, we will keep it how it is. But if there is a new version, it would definitely be something orientated towards mass market.”
Suarez said: “Our aim is to conquer to world – to help contribute to change the fragrance market, for consumers and also for industry.”