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Retail: reinventing the customer experience

A few years ago, we talked about ON and OFF by putting them back to back. Today, everything converges around the customer, because in the end the absolute choice of the channel and the moment or the mode of purchase belongs to him. However, the more omni channel it is, the more retail needs to think of itself as a brand that must create a specific and unique experience with its customers, a shared moment, an encounter. For this, the olfactory element is an essential card to play because it is intrinsically linked to the feeling of the moment and to memory. Some brands have understood this well and faced with the challenge represented by in-store traffic, they apply the codes of the hotel universe where the home fragrance is synonymous with: Welcome home!

Pierrine Rayssiguier and Anne-Marie Spencer, co-founders of Eco.French.Lab, answer your questions.

What role can perfume play concretely in in-store sales experiences?

AMS - A pleasant smell makes the business environment welcoming and comforting, increasing the quality and quantity of time spent. Perfume improves the visitor's overall perception of the products, the brand, and the quality of the service: thus ⅔ of customers notice the olfactory atmosphere in the places of purchase and among them, 97% appreciate it*. A pleasant shopping experience also creates positive emotions and associations, which makes brands more memorable over time and helps to differentiate them from their competitors, to make an impression. PR - The impact of olfactory marketing also acts on the design of the place, which is considered more attractive (21%) and more colourful (30%) than in the absence of a scent*. A successful olfactory identity makes it possible to highlight a space as a whole and gives relief to all the choices that have been made in terms of design, colours or architecture. Finally, perfume enhances products and has a direct impact on sales. Thus, studies carried out with retail customers show that a product presented in an olfactory environment appears to be more suited to a need (22%), of better quality (14%), and of lower price (5%).*

Comment développez vous vos parfums chez Eco.French.Lab ?

AMS - Une identité olfactive est la transposition de l'univers d’une marque en une création olfactive. Nous travaillons en étroite collaboration avec les équipes de nos clients afin que leur stratégie à long terme soit prise en compte avant même le développement du parfum. Nous effectuons des recherches approfondies, de l'architecture du magasin à ses valeurs, ses origines et son patrimoine, les produits et matériaux emblématiques, jusqu'aux couleurs, formes, et textures. Ensuite, nous considérons le consommateur cible et son profil socio-démographique, son marché. Le parfum doit correspondre à tous les éléments qui constitue la marque, sinon il n'est pas cohérent.

PR - Nous relions notre étude de marque aux tendances olfactives que nous partageons avec nos équipes de parfumeurs. La parfumerie, c'est comme la mode, des tendances de fond émergent chaque année sur un socle de senteurs intemporelles et indémodables.

How can olfactory strategies extend the experience outside of physical store networks?

PR - A brand can use its olfactory identity in many ways and well beyond its physical stores alone. Federate employees in its head office, surprise customers at PR events, perfume parcels from e-commerce sales, achieve additional turnover with the production of derivative products such as a candle or a shower gel... Olfactory makes it possible to create an ecosystem linking the physical and the digital to offer a unique and memorable customer experience. Thus, when you receive your package on the other side of the world, your unboxing experience will be intrinsically linked to the physical experience in store. There are no longer 2 experiences, 2 customers but a multichannel vision of the customer through the same perfume.

How is your relationship with the brands that trust you evolving?

AMS - It's a long-term partnership. An olfactory identity is not intended to change too often so that the sensory associations it creates have time to express themselves. Sometimes, we refresh the perfume after five, six years, but the overall perception remains the same; it can be a subtle evolution on a few facets step by step over the years, giving the fragrance a more contemporary feel, often in line with a change in the overall brand strategy. The variation around the seasons is also a good way to create a dynamic and a rhythm around the perfume by following that of the seasons and commercial events. A bit like skin perfumes that are refreshed in winter with the explosion of colognes, an identity follows the customer throughout the year and accompanies their experience as close as possible to the moment.

How do you adapt your offer to be more sustainable?

AMS - Today we see the biggest companies investing in sustainability, whether in headquarters, stores, warehouses, seeking to take care of the air quality and the comfort of their employees. When developing our sustainability strategy at Eco.French.lab, we take into account the circular economy model. We ensure our ingredients are responsibly sourced to ensure a stable and sustainable supply. We collaborate with partners and producers with whom we share values ​​around the preservation of resources, and who are committed alongside us to the quality, transparency and sustainability of the ingredients that make up our perfumes. We perform exposure testing and health risk assessments to ensure safety and freedom from allergies even with prolonged fragrance exposure. We are well aware of the concerns of brands for the health of their customers and employees and we are doing everything possible and beyond to address them.

What future for perfume in retail?

PR - In order to offer "the real life experience" or a tactile service in person, retail must reinvent itself and move towards new solutions to bring in and seduce the potential customer. Hospitality is high on our customers' list when asked about what services to promote in-store in an increasingly digitally driven environment. In this, creating your olfactory identity is a real lever on which we support companies around effective and differentiating omni channel strategies.

Anne-Marie Spencer and Pierrine Rayssiguier are the co-founders of Eco.French.Lab, a company specializing in consulting, support and the deployment of olfactory experiences for companies. Defining themselves as architects of perfume collections, they integrate the potential of perfume and scents into retail sales strategies and experiential commerce to increase customer engagement and support sales.

* Sources: Journal of Marketing - May 2020

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