The Future of the Fragrance Foundation, Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at Brassiere 8 1/2, NYC
They spoke, she listened.
Written by Jessica Matlin for The Fragrance Foundation.
After coming on board as The Fragrance Foundation President in 2017, Linda Levy immediately embarked on what she dubbed, “The Listening Tour,” meeting individually with almost all of the board members and many of the fragrance community. There, they told her what was truly most important to them. On Wednesday morning over breakfast, she shared what she learned and her plan of action.
To kick it off, she revealed The Fragrance Foundation’s new mission statement: To inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance.
Inspiring people is going to take work, so Levy followed up with The Foundation’s new objectives. First and foremost: Engage the consumer. (“Every person I spoke to talked about this,” she said.) How to capitalize on it? Show customers what we do, she said. Through social media, we can reflect the artistry and passion of the business—which comes alive during lavish press and in-store events. (The Atelier Cologne Nutcracker press event and the Cartier L’Envol Cloud in Paris were pure Instagram candy.)
Creating experiences where customers can engage with scent—and inevitably, via social—is key. One to get excited about? Fragrance Day.
“Every [March 21st], for the rest of our lives, we’re going to celebrate fragrance,” she said. “Fragrance Day is going to be very motivating.” And ultimately, drive sales.
Levy proposed that the industry come together to create a “countdown” to Fragrance Day, starting a conversation about fragrance and excitement around retail. (Why not pose questions to the customer like, “What was your first fragrance memory?” “Where do you wear fragrance?” and the very French, “What was your first olfactive shock?”)
This would be supported through perfumer events, brand animations, and PR happenings (for example, a painted mural in Brooklyn.) All of this, inevitably, would be shared throughout social media.
“There’s no reason to not have The Fragrance Foundation’s Fragrance Day as an activity…This is the beginning of the rest of your life!” she said with a smile as the room applauded.
Other items on the agenda included enhancing membership. A huge part of that is creating a more robust program for The Notables, one that doesn’t start and end once they’re given an award. By involving them more in The Foundation and investing in their skills, we end up with projects like Fragrance Day, says Levy.
Nurturing talent is a recurring theme with The Foundation, as Levy encouraged everyone in the room to take and promote The Foundation’s online certification program, a state of the art resource in the art, science, and selling of fragrance.
“Next year, I expect you all to be trained!” she said.
About selling: Levy made it clear that the game has changed, and with that, one of The Foundation’s objectives has had to evolve, too. As the world has become more ethically-minded, brands’ efforts and storytelling and needs to reflect that. For example, Giorgio Armani’s Aqua for Life brings clean water to underserved areas, and Audrey Gruss’s Hope fragrance benefits mental health charities.
“People don’t always want to be sprayed or hear about the latest GWP,” she said. “They want to hear the story.”
In addition to storytelling, The Foundation plans to give back to organizations devoted to ingredient conservation and preservation.
Finally, Levy’s last objective: Create experiences. Taking inspiration from pop-ups around the globe, she proposed a Fragrance Foundation pop-up with a mix of brands—and loads of social and retail potential. (That got a rousing applause.)
The Fragrance Foundation events will still pack the glamour and buzz of recent years (hosts and talent will be revealed shortly!), but there will be a very noticeable new addition: fragrance. You should be able to smell, touch, and see the nominees and award winners, she said. And of course, lots of surrounding social buzz. The artistry and passion has been kept bottled up too long.