Decoding emotional labyrinth of fragrances – commoditization to informed selection

Ipsos The Scent of an Emotion Study

The author(s)

Fragrances have emotional connotations and consumer choices are being defined by these implicit needs. Traditionally, marketers have crafted perfumes based on chemical properties and molecules, natural extracts, et al. But there is deep seated connection between emotions and fragrances shaped by cultural contexts, which provides a whole new meaning to these interpretations.  The Scent of an Emotion  - a syndicated study by Ipsos India, decodes this vast and complex emotional labyrinth of fragrances, providing brand mavens with a whole new prospect of propositions and imagery for product innovation and communication, tying in with emotional aspirations of consumers. 

Geeta Lobo, Head of Ipsos SIA, said, “Fragrances in personal care and household care products have long been used for functional purposes and to give products a distinct identity. But there is a vast and complex emotional context to fragrances. In fact, the emotional impact of fragrances and aromas are believed to be much stronger than those of visual and auditory stimulus. The emotional context of fragrances is built through associations and life experiences. There is a strong cultural influence at play. We felt, decoding the emotive meanings of fragrances would give brands the ability to use fragrances to not just mark a distinct identity, but evoke a specific emotional state. And that formed the genesis of our study. We used social data to map these emotional territories and the power of this data has once again lived up to our expectation.“

Ipsos Social Intelligence Analytics (SIA)

Ipsos Social Intelligence Analytics (SIA) scoured tons of data on social media to understand consumer conversations around fragrances and perfumes and the emotions they evoked.

Social platforms are the richest source of data on consumer perceptions. These provide purest expression of consumer experiences. They are authentic and unfiltered reflection of people’s lives added Lobo

Relevance to marketers

Once emotive territories of different fragrances are decoded, marketers can input these for creating variations – the report provides guidance for both product innovation and communication. The usefulness is 3-pronged: first, for strengthening category functional benefits (design fragrances that reflect consumer associations, by focusing on the core category function); second, reinforce emotive territories of brands (align fragrance to the emotive differentiation that a brand is seeking to create); and third, variant through emotions (consumers seek different end emotional benefits from categories. Directly cue emotions as a variant).     

Rigorous Process

Conversations which had mentions of fragrances and had words which suggested fragrances in the generic sense were included. The next step involved screening, where only conversations relevant to the topic, which cued emotions and fragrances, were retained and the rest, including duplicates were dropped. In all 771 unique conversations, extracted across sources from the Indian market were analyzed. 116 distinct fragrances were coded looking at fragrance descriptors which were pure consumer articulations, supplemented by product descriptions. Some descriptors were ingredient based (geranium, patchouli), some recognizable notes (sandal, rose, jasmine) and others on types of fragrances masculine, icy and herbal. 81 distinct descriptors of emotions and moods were identified and coded. Negative emotions were excluded – given the objective of uncovering the emotive spaces – for product development and communication. 

Who should be buying this report?

Lobo spoke about a number of sectors that could benefit from these consumer insights: “All players in personal care, household care products, perfumeries, hospitality sector, wellness and spa centers/ players, experiential marketing companies, luxury brands, among others."


The author(s)

  • Geeta Lobo

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