Too many choices, too big, and too confusing—that’s a précis of today’s perfume shopping experience. And today’s Millennial consumer has no brand or store loyalty.
One enterprising group decided to solve all those problems with a company that tailors scent recommendations and offers small-format atomizers via a subscription model.
New York-based Scentbird started out in beta last fall and officially launched last week. Rachel ten Brink, one of four Scentbird co-founders and the CMO, has a background in consumer goods, with time spent at l’Oréal, Elizabeth Arden, and Gillette. She explains how Scentbird aims to revolutionize the scent buying experience, powered by the Millennial shopper.
The need: Pain points of perfume shopping
Olfactory fatigue: Particularly for fragrance, it’s hard to shop in-store. You can go to Macy’s and get sprayed whether you like it or not, which can be overwhelming for some people. There is something actually called olfactory fatigue, which means that after you smell three or four scents, your nose physically shuts down so you literally stop smelling. On the other hand, you can go to Sephora and you’re faced with this wall of scents and it’s really hard to navigate. Or you buy online, which is really buying blind, unless you’re repurchasing something you already know.
Brand overload: When you look at the historic fragrance marketplace, there have been launches every year. In 1970, there were about 190 fragrance launches in the U.S. Last year, not counting small niches, there were more than 2,000 launches. It overwhelms and frustrates consumers.
Too large: We call it the perfume graveyard. You end up with all these bottles of half-used perfume, and you guilty throwing them out because they’re so expensive. They’re pretty, but the truth is they just sit there. Consumers feel that if they’re going to buy a bottle that lasts forever, they want to live with it and know they’re really going to love it.
We did a lot of research around Millennials and discovered that although 56 percent of grandmothers and 53 percent of mothers have a signature scent, only three percent of Millennials stick to one scent. They approach their fragrance like their wardrobe. They’re used to living on-demand: Whether they want to feel professional or sexy, they change. The other challenge with younger customers is they see fragrance as a special occasion versus everyday product.
We call it Netflix for perfumes. The idea is you go in, you choose your scent for the month, and you build a little queue. Once you’ve received your scent, we send you an email invitation to rate it. Then we update your recommendations. We recommend that you pick 12 based on your profile, but you can pick any you like. People tend to look at the recommendations and pick two or three, but then they go and choose by brand. We also have a search engine called Smart Search. You can pick by mood, interaction, or occasion.
What’s different about Scentbird is that we are all about personalization and customization for the consumer. When you onboard, you take a little quiz and answer some questions—it’s very lighthearted and visual, but there’s actual science behind it. When we ask what’s your favorite drink, it’s because 80 percent of what you taste is what you smell. So when you tell us you like herbal tea versus whiskey versus red wine, it actually helps us a lot in finding scents you’re likely to enjoy.
The most important piece of information is when we ask what scents you already use. The way we approach this is really different. Most scent recommendations are based on a manufacturer database. We actually build an algorithm with half a million authentic reviews and do a semantic analysis. So we’re really matching you—women who tend to like the scents you like also like these scents. It’s a little bit of a crowdsourced recommendation.
The response has been very, very positive. Our approach is very much to partner with brands so we’ve been talking to pretty much everybody. Brands are very excited about this because they’re desperate to get to that Millennial customer. For them, it’s about survival. They’re seeing the Millennial customer dropping in terms of their interest in fragrance, so to have something new and interesting and designed for that customer that opens up the door to fragrance is very exciting for them. They’re very intrigued. They see the opportunity.
How can your business become more customer-focused? See 4 Ways to Make Customer Experience the Heart of Your Business.Comments