Cracking the Digital Fragrance Experience Through Experiential Design

Cracking the Digital Fragrance Experience Through Experiential Design

By Valena ALTENDORF, Joshua CROSBY, Elissa DE MELO, Mariela MORTOLA, Amina TAUTSCHER , Giulio TUCCI

Mentor:  Thien Nguyen, Digital & Content Marketing Manager for Western Europe at Barilla Group 

Client:  Simon Guillemet, Senior Mobile Project Manager at L’Oréal’s Digital Services Factory (DSF)

While many industries have adapted to the increasing digitisation of marketplaces rather well,  certain industries, such as fragrances, have struggled to do so. Although work has been done to digitise the fragrance industry, a solution has yet to emerge that adequately addresses the  challenge of how to bring existing product portfolios of fragrances to consumers. Cracking the  digital fragrance experience is about finding new and creative ways to deliver experiences that  empower consumers and minimise perceived emotional and financial risks.  

The fragrance industry poses a set of unique challenges, many of which are rooted in the way  the brain processes scents. Unlike other senses, smell passes through the same part of the brain that stores memories. This is referred to as olfactory memory, but more commonly known as scent memory. It offers an invaluable insight into a scent’s ability to trigger memories and emotions with which it is associated.  

This leaves the fragrance industry operating in an environment marked by distinct personal  preferences. The ensuing challenge of how to effectively communicate the appropriate information with a large and diverse audience has become a point of focus for digitising the fragrance industry. The problem is compounded by linguistic limitations. Discussions with industry experts further highlighted the issue of linguistics, noting consumers’ inability to effectively express, and therefore identify, scents and notes of fragrances. This poses a significant threat to the communication stream between clients and brands.  

Faced with an industry-wide issue so deeply rooted in consumers’ information processing and communication abilities forced our project team to take a step back and re-evaluate the core  problem. Further research was conducted in order to validate certain key findings. Based on the  insights generated, a new consumer lifetime model was developed alongside a more robust definition of the consumer jobs-to-be-done. A new set of desired consumer outcomes were  identified and developed, later forming the basis for the proposed solution.  

The final proposal is a testament to the rigorous analytical process undertaken by our team to  develop a more comprehensive picture of the issues facing the fragrance industry while attempting to sell fragrances online. It focuses heavily on creating a more holistic user experience that blends both a data-driven approach with the creativity necessary for developing an engaging and immersive experience that resonates with consumers.  

The overall process was conducted through incremental steps. Each was carefully monitored and  refined on a continuous basis by our team’s mentor, Thien Nguyen, Digital & Content Marketing  Manager for Western Europe at Barilla Group, in preparation for weekly meetings with the client, Simon Guillemet, Senior Mobile Project Manager at L’Oréal’s Digital Services Factory (DSF). Through the constant support of both Thien and Simon, and of the L’Oréal DSF team, our  Company Consultancy Project team was able to move quickly and efficiently to ensure the timely  delivery of the project deliverables.  

This collaborative project between ESCP’s MSc in Marketing & Creativity (MMK) and  L’Oréal’s Digital Services Factory (DSF) exposed us to a multitude of challenges, each requiring us to learn and to grow by implementing new knowledge and skills. These new learnings covered a wide range of skills, from meticulous organisation with tools such as Gantt Charts, to the analytical skills required to translate rich data and research into actionable insights.  

The team overcame challenges posed by the pandemic. Having begun work in person in a highly  collaborative environment before hastily moving to online platforms due to increasing government  restrictions, the team quickly adapted. We used every tool at our disposal, and learnt new ones to enable the enthusiastic and driven teamwork mentality that characterised the project from the beginning. The soft skills ac quired through this project and our team’s commitment to learning and excelling therein demonstrated our tenacity and perseverance.  

Most important is a lesson that best represents the essence of the MMK spirit, and that is to  continuously challenge what is known. The work produced over the course of nine weeks  reflected a curious and persistent attitude, and an eager quest to deepen the understanding of  consumers and their jobs-to-be-done. With the support of both ESCP and L’Oréal, our team fused a scrupulous analytical approach with a creative and open mindset to produce a UX solution that promises to resonate with target consumers.