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Does your brand need a signature scent?

Bespoke perfumery house Maison 21G has launched a B2B service to create bespoke scent solutions for businesses.

Scent association can be a huge contributor to the success of a business – just look at the people queuing up for their iced lattes at Starbucks, or how upscale shopping malls all pump a distinctive scent through their premises. For Maison 21G, this means making such a service accessible for not just the big brands – but everyone and every situation. The perfumery’s new B2B arm offers everything from private workshops to setting up a scent bar to entertain gusts; to even creating a bespoke, signature fragrance – which can be then used in corporate gifts, in a retail space, or even for particular events. To find out more, The Peak speaks to founder Johanna Monange to find out more.

Why the decision to launch this B2B offering at this time?

We’ve had a B2B offering for some time, but it has always been more ad-hoc when brands or business contacts approached us with their projects. We think especially in the current climate where so many businesses are struggling, we think our scent offering will really help enhance brands and make them stand out to customers. Like a logo or a visual identity, the olfactive signature is a strong element of a brand image and needs to be tailored with care and professionalism to provide the best experience to their customers. Scent design requires years of expertise and it is not something you can improvise or buy from the counter for an important brand. This is whyMaison21G is happy to partner with all kinds of brands to design their unique olfactive identity with the highest level of professionalism of the perfume industry. And that’s why we think now is the best time to launch our new B2B website.

(Related: The future of fragrances: creating a personalised experience)

How does the process work? Say a hospitality brand is looking for a signature scent – what would the steps be? How can they ensure it’s unique to the brand?

Because each brand is unique (like an individual), we usually partner with the brand or marketing team to define a clear brief, taking into account the scent message and the benefit they wish to diffuse (relaxation, naturality, energising, ecetera). We translate it into a unique signature scent that will be exclusive to them and really reflects their brand values.

The first step would be a meeting with me to get an idea of what the brand is all about and what they are looking for in their scent and most importantly where they are planning on using it. Once that is established, we can get to work in a private workshop to start to blend together in my lab. I have a large selection of sustainable essences available, also some from my private collection from which we can choose and create the perfect scent blend. The possibilities are sheer endless and we will therefore ensure the uniqueness of each brand’s scent. Once we have decided on the scent, we can go and produce the scent for whatever touchpoint the brand is looking to diffuse it, e.g. as a perfume, as a corporate gift, a room scent, an event scent diffusion.

Then we can provide the devices to diffuse in any kind of space with optimal diffusion and intensity: meeting room, lobby, bathroom, VIP lounge…We optimise its diffusion according to the space and the strength they desire.

A scent bar can be set up to provide guests with an interactive experience in spaces like a hotel lobby

How can having a personalised scent help build a stronger brand identity?

Have you ever walked past Abercrombie & Fitch? What do you recognise first? that’s right! It is the scent coming out of their store! If there is a brand that has created a recognisable brand scent it certainly is A&F. This is obviously the ultimate goal of a brand scent but it can also start much smaller.

The fifth sense is one of the most powerful ones. We know from our neuro-scientific study that 75% of our emotions are generated from smell as this sense solicits the area of our brain triggering pleasure. It is proven that a place, with the right scent message, leads up to 50% more occasional guests to visit and has a real efficiency on customer loyalty.

You can create a certain atmosphere in a shop through the power of scent. Your client can relax and feel at ease and is more likely to engage with your brand. Our sense of smell triggers memories too, so once you are exposed to the scent again, it takes you right back to a place. So if a brand creates a positive experience and connects it to a scent, their clients are more likely to come back and feel looked after.

(Related: French luxury perfumer Henry Jacques redefines the concept of couple fragrances with its exclusive Les Toupies scents)

What are some of the more interesting client projects you guys have worked on?

I have worked on quite  a number of projects since launching Maison 21G last year. We have worked with Hennessy Cognac to create an installation at the airport, which took the customer on a journey of the different scent facets of the Cognac. We worked with Bawah Resort and have created an all-round scent experience for the entire resort, ranging from a scent in the reception area, to massage oils in the spa and room scents. Another cool, more local project was the Scents & Savour dining experience with restaurant JAG. There we matched different scents to their food which made for a sensorial dining experience loved by all.

What are the applications beyond hospitality and lifestyle brands? Say, a tech company wanted a personalised company scent – how would you approach this project?

The beginning is just as with all other projects. I really take my time to understand the brand’s objectives, values, and needs. Tech brands will need the human touch more than any brand and a strong emotional connection with their customers. We can make anything happen, that is the beauty of scent. Once we have defined the objectives and the type of scent, I work closely with the company to create the scent they are looking for and I really don’t distinguish if it is lifestyle, hospitality or not. For me, all brand scents are equal.

How would you guys interpret or deal with abstract briefs? Say, a client wants “a scent that will put customers in a spending mood”; or a winery wants a scent that “represents the house”.

The more abstract the better! We develop active fragrances that have a proven impact on human moods and emotions. I know from my 20 years of neuroscientific studies in my past career (in the fragrance industry) that certain natural essences affect people’s brain and behaviour. We did a lot of tests on consumers for the big international groups that spend millions on this kind of research: how to make a shampoo smell more nourishing for dry hair, how to make a detergent smell more white and clean? I have all the secret knowledge to design the scent with the right impact on human behaviour with my 20 years of experience. It is not something you improvise, you learn with years of experience, testing different compositions on consumers and observing their behaviour.

There is a huge psychological aspect in a scent which helps classify peoples’ value, beliefs and preferences in life. When you know all these aspects, it is actually quite easy to peel down the layers of brands too. What does success smell like? Perhaps of rich amber with a luxurious orris touch. Something representing heritage and history? A blend of tobacco, leather or earthy scents like patchouli.

What will make customers spend more time in a shop? A comforting reassuring smell like tea with a touch of addictive note like almond or vanilla. You see, all these things just need to be stripped down to the essence of what people are looking for and how that can be triggered by scents. I find that most fascinating because it really works! The power of scents is limitless.

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