2022 . 05 . 18 | written by Karen Marin

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Esxence 2022

Essencional's original content



Spanning the globe once again, your intrepid Essencional reporter has made an exceptional discovery in India where avid fragrance lover and collector, Mr. Shishir Mehta, has founded SCENTIDO Niche Perfumery, the premiere experiential niche fragrance destination in India. Leaving the metallurgical engineering field, where he had been heading a testing laboratory for 35 years, Mr. Mehta pivoted to his passion and his long standing love of rare and exclusive niche fragrances, deciding that the time was right to bring these treasures to the Indian consumer. In this exclusive interview with SCENTIDO Marketing Manager Surabhi Popli we’ll explore the story behind this retailer in a market slated for exponential growth in the years to come.

Discover the SCENTIDO Niche Perfumery

What is the inspiration behind SCENTIDO Niche Perfumery?

SCENTIDO is the passion project of Mr. Shishir Mehta, the founder. He started it because he wanted to bring to India the fragrances, and especially the niche fragrances, he enjoys so much. He has been fond of fragrances forever, beginning with designer fragrances. His personal collection has over 1200 fragrances. When he traveled to the US and Europe, he would go to the Neiman Marcus, the Selfridges and the Harrods of the world where he discovered niche fragrances. Once you start using niche fragrances there is a certain appreciation of the art of perfumery that you understand that is much deeper than when you are using designer fragrances. With all that he saw and experienced, he got more intrigued about the sector.

The name SCENTIDO was derived from the Spanish word 'Sentido' - which means sense, as well as heartfelt or deeply felt.

From the beginning, we were clear that the brand name had to have a story behind it - one that could capture the essence of what we are trying to build. We also wanted to have a name that is unique to us, and a name that would be easy to understand and speak, across cultures.

The word we chose resonated with our vision of a brand that is here to bring the most exquisite fragrances of the world to India with a deeply sensorial experience.

Hence, to effectively convey our value offering - we re-imagined the word 'Sentido' and christened our brand as SCENTIDO (S{c}ENTIDO).

Mr Shishir Mehta
Ms Surabhi Popli

How did you determine there was a demand for niche fragrance in India?

That was purely driven by Mr. Mehta who decided it was a good time. In 2016 he was contemplating what needed to be done in the luxury market, as he was a luxury goods consumer himself. He started talking to people including luxury leaders in the country, and eventually it comes down to ‘what does the consumer want?’ He wanted to know ‘what’s next for the luxury buyer?’ He saw what was happening with luxury and in general it has been going towards niche now, so that was when he decided to get into the business and to strike while the iron was hot. Since he was such a passionate consumer, he had already met the owners, the principles, and the perfumers, and he had established relationships with many of them. He speaks from the heart as a true fragrance lover and he is the ambassador of the company. It’s one of our points of difference that sets us apart from our competitors, of which there are maybe three now, but this will change as more come into the market.

Tell me about the stores and the mix of brands.

Our flagship store was launched in February of 2018 in Mumbai although we started working on the entire project in 2017 under our parent company. Next we launched in New Delhi and, even with COVID, we managed to open about 3 more stores, though it put a damper on our plans to expand. Now the expansion plan is in full speed as business is pretty much back to normal.

Mr. Mehta is passionate about the brands, and he has an instinct about them and the market. At first the assortment focused on what he loved, but now it’s being influenced by what works with the Indian market. Our assortment of luxury niche brands is distinct and appeals to a wide range of consumers. There are key players in niche, like Roja Parfums, but then there are some family or perfumer driven brands, like Floris London. Mr. Mehta wants a balance between the two while instinctively seeking out what will work for the market. We have four zones in the country and they are very different in terms of climate. The North has four distinct seasons including a very hot and dry summer and a very, very cold winter whereas the other regions don’t have these variations. We want to offer what people will want and not force something on them. We observe that Oud works really well all over, heavier fragrances do well in the North whereas the South prefers lighter compositions.

Brands typically prefer to come on board with established retailers who have many years of experience, and in our case we are a new company. We started with 8 brands and now we have about 35 for which we are official distributors and retailers. We manage everything from speaking to them, signing them on, negotiating with them and retailing them. We have an impressive range from Roja Parfums, Clive Christian, and Jovoy, to Floris, Gallivant and Nobile 1942, to so many more!

Our stores are sort of modern meets Art Deco meets old world. Our racks are democratized -we don’t have individual bays, there isn’t anything to promote one brand over another, except maybe Roja Parfums who has over 40 fragrances. We let the consumer explore on their own.

SCENTIDO Hyderabad
SCENTIDO Niche Perfumery
SCENTIDO Niche Perfumery - Palladium

Tell me about your staff. How have they been trained?

A lot of our staff comes from different backgrounds. Some have a perfume background and some come from a general luxury background because we feel you need a balance between understanding your customer and understanding what your product is. Of course there are brand trainings where everyone across the store learns the talking points and how to explain the brand to a customer, especially considering these brands may not be familiar to everyone. Having the knowledge is critical, but more than sales training there is a need for an approach training. We feel it is very important to teach our staff how to approach a client, and above all, a niche luxury client. It’s important to ensure our staff aren’t just focused on making a sale but that they are involved in communicating what’s special and unique about the brands. They are easing the client into the concept and the category. There is an amount of art and a thought process behind how you present a brand like Roja Parfums and Clive Christian. We want the client to understand why they are making that purchase, why it is a heritage brand, what the value is, regardless of the price point.

Has the role of the salesperson changed in your shop? Is it more relationship driven vs transaction driven?

Absolutely and it’s how it should be. They are ambassadors for our brand, and reflect the passion with which the business was started. We must ensure that the kind of experience we give is special, that our staff approaches our clients showing interest in them as a person in general, and conversing with them rather than just trying to sell them a product. We consider, how does our client feel when they wall in our store, and then how do they feel as they leave? The days of having the nose in the air and not talking to clients doesn’t work anymore. There has to be conversation, communication, a delight in making the client happy, a joy in helping them find what they are looking for. This is important regardless of the price paid and it is another one of our points of difference.

I see that you offer home appointments. If I booked an appointment, what could I expect?

Before the appointment we have a small questionnaire to get to know you and your fragrance preferences: what do you like, what do you want the fragrance to say about you, is it occasion driven or more signature, are there any memories attached to you and fragrances, and so on. Once that’s answered we determine an assortment of scents and then will bring them to you for you to smell and try. If you like something you can purchase and if not we’ll come back with something else. This is only offered in cities where we have stores but we are looking to expand the service.

Is the store becoming an experiential showroom?

Perhaps this works for some brands and sectors, but when it comes to luxury, to bespoke, to niche, and especially fragrance, the customer wants to see it, touch it, smell it, and probably go home with it. SCENTIDO is a place where art and elegance come together to become a destination where one can indulge in an experience that captures all your senses. This isn’t just a perfume store – it’s an experience. Plus, we’re in a very tactile market where people are coming to our stores to discover and to purchase. We’re still omni channel though, because the client can purchase in the store online if we don’t have what they want. This is a convenience and a service, and luxury is all about service, but it comes down to how smooth, how easy and how fast can it be done. Luxury niche fragrance is still word of mouth, however, so customers tell their friends about the experience they had with us or the product they bought, and we know when a client’s friends come in because they tell us.

SCENTIDO store - New Delhi
SCENTIDO Niche Perfumery - Palladium
SCENTIDO Hyderabad
SCENTIDO Niche Perfumery T2

What is the relationship between ecommerce and brick & mortar?

When we started in 2018 we had a very different mindset as opposed to post COVID. We are dealing with such an intangible product: you cannot see it, you cannot touch it, you cannot Zoom onto it to see dimensions and what it looks like as you can for shoes or a handbag. Initially the idea was that the website would focus on storytelling, be more marketing-driven, and create brand awareness. But then eCommerce was booming both for the brands, like Byredo, Frederic Malle and By Killian, whose eCommerce sites were doing well internationally, and then retailers, like LuckyScent and Jovoy, who do very well in the US and Europe respectively, as they are the go-to source to discover or purchase niche. It was a small percent of our sales and mostly repeat business or replenishment, although people also used it as a discovery platform.

COVID meant we had to change and move with the times since everything was shut most of 2020 and part of 2021. Now we have a team who is dedicated to our online strategy. The website is about discovery but the experience we offer offline needs to be replicated somehow online. The content we use and the words we use to describe everything are the closest you can come to understanding the fragrances. Our social media also helps to drive awareness and understanding. We offer the services like the home appointments but then there is also a version of the questionnaire as an online service. People can fill it in and then we’ll come back to them with suggestions. And of course we offer samples with purchase.

Going forward we are definitely looking at the website as an equal share to offline, but we know this is eventually a product you need to try before you buy. We have had great success with discovery kits from the brands, and sampling activities are very important to allow trial. Since we don’t have stores in every market the website becomes key for storytelling, for blogs, for ecommerce, for acquiring new clients, and of course it’s necessary to have very strong digital strategies to launch new brands.

Any closing thoughts?

I think niche needs to do something radical in the digital space as a whole to change the way the luxury niche fragrance sector is presented. Showing images of the sea and of flowers and fruits is not enough. Niche should approach digital differently, and I’m sure there are people who are already addressing it.

That’s a fantastic point and a challenge for the niche players! Thank you for this interview!


Author’s Note: Once again we find that passion – and passionate people – are driving forces in the niche fragrance industry. After our conversation, I was ready to plan a trip to India to meet the SCENTIDO team and visit the stores. India’s domestic fragrance market (all categories) is valued at $500 million, and has been growing at approximately 11% over the past few years. The increasing interest in personal care, the growing middle-class, and the demand for fragrance coming from the Millenial generation are just some of the factors leading to this growth. The cultural and traditional affinity for incense and attars is seen as a positive indication for the success of the niche fragrance sector.


Perfume Market in India to grow by USD 1.02 bn /

Can India’s $500 million fragrance market survive the pandemic? /