The scent of crisis: an Italian point of view

1Italian food and Italian fashion have been and are still an icon all over the world and Italians are among the most fashionable people. Unfortunately, the Italian economic conditions nowadays are becoming more and more uncertain with a clear impact on the market of fragrances, which are considered a non-essential item.
Today we are a long way away from the «golden years» of Italian perfumery: the 80’s and 90’s. In the 80’s perfumery reflected the lux in a modern way: very strong smell, representing the woman who wants to emerge, as if she was trying to say «I’m here and I want you to know it!». Or, on the contrary, floral perfumes representing another facet of the 80’s woman: strong and passionate. In the 90’s the situation changed again: women did not have to demonstrate anything anymore, they were less career minded, and strong in a romantic way; it was the time of powdery floral notes and more feminine fragrances. However, in both the 80’s and 90’s almost every Italian fashion designer launched a fragrance with his own name and it was perfectly on time. This golden age of Italian perfumery lasted until the mid 90’s to the year 2000.

2fotoFragrances as a luxury products, lux as a moment for themselves
Nowadays lux has become really something for ones self, a little touch of relaxation in everybody’s life, which is otherwise full of stress and business. Lux is comfort and liberation, it’s the need to evade, to come back to the «cocoon», to think about yourself. In times of crisis, self care is a beginning point for a project of personal growth: I start with myself, as I represent the first utter good. Therefore wellbeing end self care take a crucial role for the consumer, as an investment, both economic and symbolic. Thus, all aspects of everyday life’s actions are influenced: the kitchen becomes organic, gym exercise is now with a personal trainer and includes yoga and meditation, there is a huge focus on health and personal care, diet, natural medicine, homeopathy and organic cosmetics. The purchase of a product such as perfume, is not necessarily a need of self identification on a luxury brand like it was in the 80’s, but is rather the purchase of something that can give us benefits, of which we know the raw materials, which we previously got to know, studied, evaluated and tasted, then chose. It is a new culture of consuming, where products are evaluated by place of origin, design, fashionable level and eco-friendly commitment, and because it offers significance and associated experiences for everybody to partecipate: all factors that contribute to give us a cocooning present.
There can exist low cost brands that state themselves as organic products or designer items, therefore they become trendy and fashionable. We are talking about a recession, but a kind of «chic» recession, Italian like mood, where even the dirt poor, want to feel unique and fashionable: the recession is as such an opportunity to take care of ourselves and care about our personal life style, with environmental concern. Furthermore, with the great contributing factor of the Internet, which is a huge source of information, the consumer can learn about all the products and services regarding wellbeing, where anyone can share his own experience and read about everybody else opinion, research the best and worst, establishing in a fast and effective way, the success or failure of a product/brand/service.

DSCI1652Scent for wellbeing
Products and communication must, therefore, be able to interpret the strong wellbeing demand. Concerning the fragrance market, this is true for both personal fragrances and room fragrances with an increasing of interest in aromatherapy and diffusion of scents in living spaces and public areas such as storehouses, offices, waiting areas, houses. In Italy you will more and more often find a scented candle or a fragrance diffuser even in the restroom of low profile restaurants in order to give pleasure to the client in a new healthy and multi sensorial way. We should remember that a perfume is an intangible compound of symbols and status, it reaches down into our most ancient roots, exploring the realm of memory and the senses. The right scent could be the key that opens up the hidden chambers of the inner being and touches the most sensitive chords of the soul.
Our fragrance says a lot about ourselves, our history, character and tastes
It says it immediately, with its notes, background, style, inclinations, temper, habits. Leather and tobacco tell different stories to cocoa and cinnamon, and mint and bergamot evoke passions away from pink and mauve, and so on a infinitum. The scents speak infinite languages, with so many combinations of essences, which always however reveal something, a little or a lot, of those who choose them. It is thus through the first of the senses, smell, at any time the impression of a person takes shape. Their scent paints the picture: the notes of the scent reveal the educated or ambitious, safe or refined, eclectic or aristocratic, or a lover of the tradition of solid, bold or curious; Traits that often transpire from the lines and the personality of the bottle, a supporting actor, but far from that which appears in each of the stories imagined in the scent. The very air around us communicates what we are at present, and promises what we can offer, fixed in an unforgettable picture, transmitted from the nose to the soul, the memory of us.
A fragrance that still distinguishes us and spoil us, giving us subtle but intense pleasure, emanates that which we love to be. The soft luxury and evanescent, the deep sense of well-being, that pleases us all the way, from the beginning to the end, until we cannot measure any further each of the aromas of the new and diverse notes. On this trend, we look to change each day from today offering the products made to order, perfumes created ad hoc for the person or the environment, and to offer perfumery courses in order for the clients to create their own fragrance, a new and original additional pampering. The sense of a fragrance drawn on themselves, or who you know well, like a tailored suit, is concentrated here. In a time of crisis what is less artificial and less superficial wins, to give to the customer an internal happiness and wellbeing, that is eco-friendly, organic, but also custom made – just for you – new and different, brand able to involve the customer with events and rewards.

From a marketing point of view, made of numbers of course and less philosophical, Italian brands of perfumes need to be able to promptly respond to the crisis with a good and strong policy of export. Internationalization will be their lifeline. Italian manufacturers have a big advantage of being first of all innovative and then dynamic and flexible and these are important key factors of success, above all in the emerging markets which are very competitive and demanding.

-Canadean’s report «The Future of the Fragrance Market in Italy to 2017», published in July 2013.
-Cecilia Gandini – Marco Turinetto, Lusso Necessario: alla ricerca del valore per vincere la crisi.


by C. Scattolini