Digital Fragrance Events: A Comparative View
2020 . 06 . 19 |
During confinement, fragrance brands, retailers, bloggers, fragrance lovers and beauty junkies took to the virtual world to entertain their faithful followers with online events, live chats and interviews. In addition, industry sources hosted a plethora of webinars, podcasts and discussions. How do these experiences compare to live events? What kind of options could be further developed for the future?
The lockdown period kept everyone in isolation, perhaps alone, perhaps confined with family. Even for those who worked from home, the moments of downtime were often spent in front of a screen, keeping connected to loved ones, searching for information or looking for entertainment. For some entrepreneurs, this was an opportune moment to take to the internet to connect with followers and build notoriety, whereas for others, it was a chance to step up existing activity. For everyone, it meant moving from the real world to the digital one, not an easy transition when the subject is fragrance. The following is just a snapshot of what was available, primarily limited to English language options, and is in no way comprehensive of all the choices that were out there.
Experimental Perfume Club
In addition to having their own collection of fragrances, Layers, the EPC hosts online courses in the art of perfumery and they conduct perfume creation workshops in their London lab. Emmanuelle Moeglin, founder, perfumer and graduate of ISIPCA, took to Instagram Live to share knowledge on products and ingredients during lockdown in half hour Friday Lunch perfume chats. Direct from the lab, Moeglin selected specific ingredient groups, such as aldehydes, to discuss and present to the audience. She spoke in easy-to-understand terms about the smell of each ingredient, its origin and the effect it gives in fragrance creation. Viewers could interact by commenting and asking questions. The sessions were down-to-earth and very informative. For me, it honestly felt like I was taking a class in the lab. Moeglin has a delightful personality, unassuming, free of ego. The videos are available on the EPC IGTV channel.
ScenTree is a recently launched interactive raw material online database designed to answer all questions anyone could have about perfume ingredients. Founders and ISIPCA grads Thomas Espinasse and Maxime Baud conducted one-on-one olfactory discussions with several perfumers including Patrice Revillard, Katell Plisson and Stephanie Bakouche. One chat explored the vast family of citrus notes and included a discussion on the method of obtaining the scent (extraction, distillation, etc). Since the content was quite detailed and somewhat technical, the sessions were very educational and perhaps most appealing to professionals and students as opposed to novices. ScenTree plans to continue producing the live discussions but with less frequency once regular business resumes. The recorded chats can be viewed on ScenTree’s IGTV channel. Please note some are in English and some are in French.
Benoit Verdier, one of the co-founders of fragrance brand Ex Nihilo, had candid 30-minute chats with several perfumers who had created fragrances for the brand including Yann Vasnier, Shyamala Maisondieu and Quentin Bisch. The conversations were very informal and offered a behind the scenes peek at the creation and collaboration process. In another live streaming session Verdier shared tips on the subject of fragrance layering. Chats like these make the brand more approachable by showing the human side, revealing who makes it all happen. The live interviews were hosted on Instagram and the videos are available on the brands’ IGTV channel.
Persolaise, alias Dariush Alavi, is a writer, independent perfume reviewer, blogger and vlogger. He created his blog just over ten years ago and has built a strong bond with his community. He produces an average of 3 to 4 posts and videos on a weekly basis, and although the broadcasts may have increased somewhat during lockdown, he was already planning to step up the activity before COVID19 came along. He is quite entertaining, has a great use of vocabulary, and speaks in terms of images, analogies and contextualization to evoke scent – something that isn’t often the case with other bloggers who talk about scents smelling “nice”. His approach is serious, and by his own admission a bit geeky, but it’s never too serious. What I enjoyed most, and what is actually a new addition to the video roster, were the interviews he conducted with industry figures because he posed tough questions and made an effort to focus on the point of difference from each brand, sometimes in a type of game. For example, when interviewing Nick Steward from Gallivant, whose fragrances are inspired by cities and travel, he asked what note was evocative of a place for which a fragrance has not yet been created. It resulted in a lively conversation including streaming comments from viewers. When interviewed, Dariush informed me his subscriber count has been going up quickly since lockdown began. The videos are posted on Persolaise’s YouTube channel.
UK based Escentual is a premium beauty retailer. During lockdown they created a series of live Instagram chats with the hashtag #NightInWithEscentual. Each episode featured a brand and one of Escentuals beauty editors in candid conversations about skin care, fragrance and makeup. Topics such as “Why you’re breaking out”,” How to get rid of dull skin” and “How to wear a bold lipstick with confidence” are just a few examples of the content. According to Escentual’s Communication and Campaigns Editor Ceryn Lawless, interviewed for Cosmetics Business, “The feel of the events is like a slumber party but talking about beauty trends and products, it’s relaxed and a lot of fun, but also extremely educational too.” The series, which has proven to be popular with customers and has contributed to a lift in sales, is slated to continue post-lockdown due to its success. Existing videos are accessible on YouTube under #NightInWithEscentual.
Digital Scent Festival
This was an ambitious 7-week program that was created in direct response to the pandemic. Recognizing the need for people to connect, to share and to stay active, Yosh Han and Aroma Village, a collective of independent perfumers and artists, devised The Digital Scent Festival to celebrate olfaction and the senses. From April 14th through May 31st the biweekly events, occurring on Zoom and Instagram Live, allowed panel members and participants to gather and share insight on scent and complementary topics as diverse as music, art, alchemy, storytelling and sustainability. Each session offered a moment to intellectualize and step beyond the confines of business to explore fragrance in diverse contexts. Yosh Han, the West Coast-based founder of Eau de Yosh, assembled a unique roster of multi-talented perfumers who were equally musicians, artists, manufacturers, aromatherapists, healers, writers and more. This incredibly diverse group of panelists brought fresh perspective to the discussions in a laid-back, California cool vibe. Some videos are posted on the Scent Festival IGTV channel and on YouTube.
Webinars and podcasts are perfect vehicles to invite key industry players to be panel members, lending the air of authority and expertise to the host site. During confinement, respected industry sources including Beauty Matter, Beauty Independent, and Global Cosmetics Industry hosted numerous webinars on a range of subjects including the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, Doing business in China, the State of Retail, Adapting to Rapid Change etc, etc. Typically each webinar had a panel of experts, ran for one hour and included a free download of the presentation the next day. In most cases, the content was useful, informative and sometimes visionary.
Although the virtual world will not replace the physical one, digital is a realm that never closes for the day and it can continuously inspire and inform. Digital events can capture the imagination and create curiosity. Frank conversations succeed in building an emotional connection between the audience and the real people behind the scenes by permitting the community of users and experts to come together. With an enthusiastic, passionate host who knows how to engage with the audience, scent comes alive through the power of words, images and suggestions. The interviewers who were relaxed, well prepared, and at ease with technology made strong impressions. Likewise, interviewees who were enthusiastic, positive and full of stories were approachable as opposed to those who were more sterile and informative but standoffish. I hesitate to say anything too critical because I think everyone should be applauded for the effort, and we all know that using new technology comes with growing pains.
As we now forge ahead into the new normal we know less people will be coming into shops, less people will be travelling and conferences, tradeshows and networking events are all on hold. Cosmoprof Bologna bounced back from cancelling the 2020 physical event by offering 30 webinars for the global beauty community. ISIPCA just announced it will offer online perfumery classes. Undeniably the online rendezvous encourages everyone to stay connected by providing opportunities to meet virtually whether in a B2C or a B2B context. We must therefore embrace the vast possibilities that exist with online events and step up the creativity. Virtual boutique visits, online trade fairs and augmented scent discovery events and product presentations are all on the horizon. It could be interesting in some cases to accompany these moments with a curated scent kit, or to suggest viewers enhance their experience by pre-ordering a discovery set tailored to the occasion. It would allow the audience to bridge the gap since we haven’t yet figured out how to diffuse scent from our computers.
Digital Scent Festival
Experimental Perfume Club
Digital Scent Festival