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Euromonitor International Interview Series: Paul O’Sullivan, Inventor of the Perfume Blender

Euromonitor International is pleased to present an interview with Paul O’Sullivan, inventor and entrepreneur at NextRed Ltd, a UK-based company specialising in the development of new product concepts based on evolving consumer trends across a wide array of industries. One of the company’s latest inventions is the Perfume Blender. The idea stems from the growing demand for personalised scent in a market which remains lukewarm towards the mainstream fragrance product offer, particularly in developed countries. This interview explores the new product concept and its functionality, as well as its potential relevance to fragrances consumers and how it could generate momentum and spur growth in this beauty category.

How did the new product idea come about? What does it involve?

I was very interested in the general global trend for personalisation; this is a complex question in respect of marketing fragrances. Consumers regularly expect options for customisation in the products and services they buy but the fragrance industry shows very little evidence of this. We set about looking for ways in which consumers could adjust their favoured scent within certain parameters and came up with a simple, effective solution.

Who are your target customers? (not necessarily end user)

Our next stage is commercialisation of the product. As such, target customers are the perfume companies and big players in the caps and closures sector. There has also been some specific interest in the perfume pairing/combining/layering sub-sector; this is logical as the product directly serves to mechanise the process of combining scents.

How does it enable the consumers to create their own personalised scent?

In effect, the solution allows the user to set the ratio at which two liquids are pumped through the atomiser by setting a simple lever thus personalising their fragrance experience.

Do you believe this innovation will start a new trend in the fragrances industry?

Yes I do. I believe the concept of personalisation/customisation is very accessible to consumers these days, particularly the sought-after youth sector. If a product of this ilk were to gain a strong presence in the youth market it could become an expected feature of future products as the sector matures. In this way, the invention may have some significant disruptive potential.

What purpose does it serve to the consumer? What are the pros and cons for the perfumer of having such a device?

The concept allows the consumer to exert a greater degree of control over their fragrance experience according to their situation or preference. For example the user may require different qualities from their scent when at work or out at night. Consumers could also opt for a combination that particularly suits their taste.

The biggest difficulty in designing the solution was treading the appropriate line of creativity between the creator and the consumer. Our aim was to explore options that still encouraged perfume brands to be creative – something that works for both purveyor and customer. We looked at several solutions and settled for one which allowed the fragrance company to retain their role as perfumer while allowing the consumer the option to “near-customise” their fragrance experience.

Any specific target end consumer who would find this kind of product appealing? Why?

As mentioned above, the product aligns itself directly to the needs of the perfume pairing/combining market. In addition to this, and perhaps more significantly, we see this as having particular appeal to the youth market on the basis of their widespread propensity to customise purchases, their general quest for personal definition and the ease with which they adopt new trends.

Consumers of fragrances are increasingly becoming less brand loyal due to the sheer number of launches on the market every year. Do you believe this new product has the potential to improve loyalty among consumers?

There is a great deal of literature out there covering the pros and cons of personalisation. This includes studies that indicate those customers who had customised a product engaged more with the company and were more loyal to the brand. There is also some evidence that consumers accord a greater value to products they can customise. A significant factor is the provision of the correct style and degree of customisation to serve the customers’ needs and correctly position the provider. I really believe our Perfume Blender performs this task perfectly.

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