Buying a perfume online without first smelling it might seem foolish but, according to Johanna Monange, founder and CEO of Maison 21G, this scenario could take off if the focus shifts from
branding to personalisation and an online dialogue with customers.
Therefore, responding to customers’ concerns – such as a company’s stance on sustainability and social impact – is all the more crucial and can help to swing the purchase decisions of millennials and Gen Z. Packaging should pivot towards refillable and recyclable materials, says Monange.
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Perfume houses also need to be transparent about ingredient sources, she stresses, as most natural essences come from Third World countries where people may be exploited. Formulas should be indicated clearly as well, and toxic ingredients such as phthalates and formaldehyde should be eliminated.
Currently, the fragrance industry is among the few that have yet to fully transition into the digital era. Monange, who has more than 20 years of experience in the business of scent creation, set up Maison 21G last year to reinvent the experience of fragrance shopping.
She highlights the need for better consumer education to empower customers. “Digitalisation allows us to produce tutorials online to share perfumery expertise. Brands will need to educate people about the impact of different ingredients and how to use them – patchouli, for instance, has a diffusive bold impact, while neroli gives a fresh, light impression.
Perfumes should also evolve to provide wellness benefits and brands that can deploy additional benefits will be the winners.” This need for individuality in the shopping experience and product customisation will only grow stronger, Monange says. “If you guide your customers well online, they will begin to trust your recommendations.”