2020 . 11 . 06 | written by Karen Marin

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2020 has been a year of rapid change thrust on the world due to COVID-19. We can’t travel, tradeshows have been cancelled and meeting live has moved over to Zoom calls. Essencional and Esxence have partnered on a series of Virtual Workshops to bring you content we would have discussed in Spring. In this case, the original workshop has been modified because the consumer needs and business needs have changed. Shopping has largely moved away from physical stores and into digital environments. This sudden change has created unique challenges for the fragrance industry including the non-negotiable step of embracing the digital world to connect with consumers, build a social media presence and provide a great online experience.
In early Fall I conducted a series of interviews with people who could share their experiences and insight on all of these topics and more. The conversations have been edited down into two informative videos. Read on for a preview of what you can expect.

In the first half of this video, I discuss the Digital Scent Festival with Yosh Han. Once it was clear that battling COVID-19 meant a global lockdown would be in place, Yosh decided to reach out to her network to create an online event where people could gather, learn, listen, be entertained and share their love for fragrance. The initial Digital Scent Festival took place over a 7-week period in the Spring but was then extended into the Summer because it was so well received. She discusses the types of events held, the advantages of using particular formats over others and many key learnings that were gleaned throughout the festival. Here is a short list of some of the questions covered:

• How did the Digital Scent Festival come about and who were the key participants?
• What were some of the most popular events?
• What kind of feedback have you gotten from the brands who participated?
• What are the next steps for the Digital Scent Festival?

In the second half of the video, I discuss with two brand founders the challenges they have dealt with in adapting to the digital environment. Geraldine Archambault launched Essential Parfums in 2018 with a collection of 6 fragrances created by master perfumers using the finest, sustainable ingredients and eco-friendly packaging. Geraldine talks about how she built the brand’s social media presence, what she learned in the process, and what strategies she put in place to foster strong relations with her consumers in 2020. Then we close with Etienne de Swardt, founder of Etat Libre d’Orange, one of the original disruptor brands in artisan fragrance. True to his unique and rebellious style, Etienne shares stories about the brand as we discuss the launch of his latest fragrance. Some of the questions discussed in this portion of the video include:

• What actions can a brand take to build a connection with the consumer?
• How can you build your presence on social media?
• How can consumers and brands stay connected in these challenging times?
• How can brands introduce new products onto the market?
• Were there any specific activities that were done during confinement to build a connection with the consumer? Are they ongoing even now that stores are open?
• What importance does digital have when launching a new fragrance, given the current context?

Since the pandemic started, the whole world has gone online for information, for entertainment, to work, to shop and even to communicate with friends and family. Effectively, COVID-19 has forced everyone to become digital savvy, even if they didn’t want to be. As consumers become more comfortable with the search process, brands need to be better positioned to meet their changing needs and expectations. In this video Dana Sandu, a combination techie and fragrance lover, talks about how brands can build online awareness, grow a community and create excitement around the brand, resulting in a great web experience for the consumer. Here is a partial list of the topics discussed:

• How have consumer expectations in the digital environment changed from a year ago?
• What are some of the best actions a brand can take now to build a community and stay in touch with their consumers?
• How can a brand optimize the digital journey to cultivate a loyal consumer following?
• What are some do’s and don’ts that will help brands to create a great experience?
• If you had a crystal ball, how do you think digital will evolve in the next 6-12 months?


Yosh Han
, Founder of the Digital Scent Festival, Creator of Eau de Yosh. The Digital Scent Festival began during the Spring lockdown and continued over a 7-week period, presenting interesting interviews and discussions all centered around the universe of fragrance. The Scent Festival carried from Spring into the Summer due its tremendous popularity and success in community building.

Geraldine Archambault, Founder and Creator of Essential Parfums. The eco-conscious brand’s simple approach gives perfumers carte blanche to create haute perfumery from natural, sustainable ingredients, delivered in environmentally friendly packaging. A member of the CEW, Geraldine also conducts olfactory workshops in hospitals for trauma victims and patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, and she designed a scratch off card used in France as a tool to obtain information for a medical study on anosmia.

Etienne de Swardt, Founder of Etat Libre d’Orange, Etienne’s creative thinking has earned him recognition as one of the original disruptors in the fragrance industry. In his own words, “A flagrant disregard for convention enables him to give in to his basest instincts, and he has taken it upon himself to unleash his obsessions in the form of scent.” Etienne share stories with me while me discuss the launch of his latest fragrance ELO’s Exit the King.

Dana Sandu
, Founder A Nose Knows, contributor to CaFleureBon, involved in the hi-tech world of Silicon Valley. Dana’s experience analyzing macro trends in the world of Big+Fast Data provides background for exploring the digitalization of niche perfumery, complete with contextual insights on how customer behavior is influenced by, and can influence, a brand’s web life.

Karen Marin
is on the Editorial Board for Essencional and is the main contributor of original content. Karen held management positions in retail before becoming the Fragrance Buyer for Sephora US for 8 years. She then relocated to Paris with LVMH honing her skills in global marketing, merchandising, strategic planning and brand building. She has moderated panel discussion at Esxence since 2016.

Click below to watch Part 1 Introduction, Online Events and Brand Observations.

Part 2, Creating a Great Web Experience and a Summary of the Takeaways will be aired next week.