Online Exclusives

Creating Time-Defying Scents

By Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor | May 24, 2011

CEW panel explains how to create timeless fragrances.

The scent of success was in the air as Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, The Estée Lauder Companies, and Christine Dagousset, Chanel, Inc., took the stage at New York’s Harmonie Club as part of Cosmetic Executive Women’s (CEW) Women in Beauty Series. The presenters spoke about their strategic approaches to creating scents that defy the hands of time.

“A beautiful fragrance never goes out of style," observed Carlotta Jacobson, CEW president. "When women find a fragrance they love, they continue to use it forever. Veronique Gabai-Pinsky and Christine Dagousset are two of the most renowned women in the fragrance industry, and I’m delighted they will be joining us to share their expertise about how fragrances are created to leave long lasting impressions.”

Gabai-Pinsky, global brand president of The Estée Lauder Companies’ Aramis and Designer Fragrances is responsible for the global business for the Aramis, Lab Series Skincare for Men, Coach, Tommy Hilfiger Toiletries, Donna Karan Cosmetics, Michael Kors Beauty, Kiton, Missoni, Sean John and Calyx brands. Dagousset, Executive Vice President, Fragrance and Beauté, Chanel, Inc., leads strategies designed to build the US business as well as enhance synergies and collaborations on all global activities, overseeing long-range planning, new product development, marketing, sales, and promotions.

Fragrance Activity and Brand Equity
Moderator Jenny Fine began the discussion noting that fragrance sales are going up, however, noted Gabai-Pinsky, who agreed that there is new activity taking place, the average numbers are hiding different realities. “There are classics and other high end fragrances that are driving the bulk of the business,” she said. “In addition, while great launches also contribute to the growth, maintaining the support of the classics is absolutely important. We’ve been blessed with great launches, like Coach Poppy and DKNY Pure this year, but the classics are also important,” she said.

Dagousset noted the continuing success of Coco Mademoiselle. “Coco Mademoiselle has been doing exceptionally well and people are continuing to look for quality after 10 years,” she said.
Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, global brand president, Aramis and Designer Fragrances, BeautyBank and IdeaBank, The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. (left), and Christine Dagousset, executive vice president, fragrance and beauté, Chanel, Inc., at CEW’s Women In Beauty Series presentation.

Gabai-Pinsky said, “The crisis impacted people in their financial planning, but it was much deeper. It resulted in a loss of confidence and people had to reassess their own values and decide what they would pay a premium for. There were a couple of consequences. There would be a polarization of what people consider true luxury and what they considered commodity. The quality and focus on juice has always been done, but now it is important to understand and explain the juice and the experience of the fragrance.”

Dagousset referred to the Chanel model, which maintains Coco Mademoiselle at number one, noting, “This position is a result of our loyalty to the product. We don’t launch every year and we’re very true to our fragrance. We don’t treat them as a commodity. We don’t give away our products. We think that at one point the customer will get back to us if they value quality.”

Gabai-Pinsky added, “In the case of Cashmere Mist, it is the juice that drives the business. In seven years, we have gone from number eleven to number three with the fragrance. We have introduced new delivery around the juice that keeps our customer loyal, and we put our money into fragrance sampling. We have also cut our promotional spend and have reinvested in building the equity.” She noted that it is essential to be respectful of quality and the consumer. “We never say, ‘oh this will be a success for one year.’ Don’t launch if you’re not ready. It’s hard to recuperate from failure,” she added.

While it is difficult to know when the juice is ready, Gabai-Pinsky said, “Never compromise on quality. Be sure you have a message simple enough to understand and compelling enough to be intriguing.”

Dagousset said, “We have an in-house nose and whenever a fragrance is ready, we launch it. We trust our creators to know what’s right. For us, it’s a long process. Sometimes it’s five years. Chanel Bleu took five to seven years to create the juice and then the packaging. But when it’s ready, it’s perfect,” she said.

Gabai-Pinsky said, “The understanding of the world becomes paramount in fragrance creation. We’ll never touch the equity of the brand. This is how the brand is understood and how it sends its message. As the world is evolving at the speed of light, with growth in Brazil and China, for example, you have to take into consideration the olfactive tastes of these parts of the world. You have to accept the fact that you may never be truly global, and that some brands will be more successful in some regions than others. It’s all right as long as you keep the brand equity.”

Dagousset concurred, noting that the first time she went to a fragrance bar in the US she found it depressing.

“If you lose the ability to seduce and create desire, you’re not selling fragrance. When I think of my mother and grandmother, and the way they used scent, fragrance was so special.”

Gabai-Pinsky added, “After a great juice you need a way to present it and to explain it that will make you feel so special. Without that it’s not right. You have to reinvent the experience around the fragrance. That is key.”

Showcasing Fragrance

Dagousset said it is very important to go to the roots of a brand, while Gabai-Pinsky emphasized keeping initiatives going to always drive traffic. “Make sure you have the story when you have the fragrance, like with DKNY Pure,” said Gabai-Pinsky. “We started pre-recession when there was a crazy frenzy for shopping, and we started looking at truly going back to the roots of perfumery with Pure DKNY. So, the entire platform of Pure is based on one ingredient (Ugandan Vanilla), an environmentally friendly supply chain, and giving back to the communities harvesting the juice.”

Dagousset cited Bleu de Chanel, saying, “We raised awareness with new advertising and since it was a men’s launch, it was different for us at Chanel. We have utilized Chanel Confidential, our new website, which shows what’s happening behind the brand, and we are always telling our story in different ways. We have our own roses. We have our own noses.”

“Social media is very intriguing for us and we had to get a little reverse mentoring to get more information about it. It has opened enormous possibilities. What I love about it is that it allows us to change the way we tell the story to the consumers. We started a Be Delicious Club on Facebook that is unbelievable, with customers talking to each other all around the world. It is opening up brand building,” said Gabai-Pinsky.

In answer to a question about preparing for Christmas, Dagousset said, “We are continuing to do what we are doing, which is making sure we have great programs and great products.”

Gabai-Pinsky said, “Reassessment of values has forced us to look at our own business model. We fine tune every day and we balance classics and new products, doing it when it makes sense.”

Dagousset noted the importance of looking at the ingredients. “If you’re going high end it’s about the creative process that goes into the juice, with a little less marketing and a little more passion for the product. Chanel puts trust in its creators,” Dagousset said.

Gabai-Pinsky said that to a certain degree the way Chanel operates is the way Lauder operates, saying, “I don’t believe market research the way we do it today is necessarily right. It’s understanding, basically what is happening in the world and what’s influencing desires. Market research answers a need, but our business is about creating a want.”

Dagousset added, “If you know the brand you don’t have to prove yourself every year. We’re a private company, so in the long term it’s a profitable model, so you have to be free from the financial pressure, which is not something that can be grasped immediately.”

Both executives agreed that keeping the passion alive and letting the talent around you emerge is key to maintaining professionalism. Additional information about CEW and its upcoming programs and presentations may be found at:

Related End-User Markets:

blog comments powered by Disqus
  • What

    What's Next for the UK?

    Sarah Boumphrey, Euromonitor International||June 27, 2016
    Euromonitor weighs in on how Brexit could impact consumer product companies.

  • Luxury Re-Coded

    Luxury Re-Coded

    Nancy Jeffries, Online Editor||May 25, 2016
    Consumers have new expectations for beauty.

  • NYSCC Explores Product Innovation

    NYSCC Explores Product Innovation

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||March 14, 2016
    New product development, formulation expertise and proper preservation are topics of discussion at February monthly meeting.

  • What

    What's on Tap for 2016?

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||February 8, 2016
    CEW and NPD present their beauty industry review and preview.

  • Perfect Timing

    Perfect Timing

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||January 11, 2016
    New ways of collecting data can help cosmetics companies understand what women really want—and when they want it.

  • Africa, Rising

    Africa, Rising

    December 14, 2015
    Savvy marketers should expand their operations on the continent, according to speakers at a WFFC seminar.

  • Play Misty for Me

    Play Misty for Me

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 30, 2015
    Body mists for men and women continue to be the hottest commodities in the mass fragrance market.

  • Hitting a Wall(mart)

    Hitting a Wall(mart)

    November 9, 2015
    Walmart imposes slotting fees and that hurts a lot of Tier 2 and 3 FMCG companies.

  • That’s Quite an Achievement!

    That’s Quite an Achievement!

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||November 2, 2015
    The CEW honors seven beauty industry leaders.

  • Scoring Big with Women’s Soccer

    Scoring Big with Women’s Soccer

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||July 8, 2015
    Carli Lloyd and crew have star power—but will any beauty firm be smart enough sign these soccer stars? Take our poll now.

  • Lux in Flux

    Lux in Flux

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||July 6, 2015
    FIT graduates detail the changes impacting the global cosmetics industry.

  • Are You for Real?

    Are You for Real?

    June 22, 2015
    Counterfeit cosmetics and pseudo scents permeate the internet; here's how brands can protect themselves.

  • A Reason to Smile?

    A Reason to Smile?

    Jeremy Kerstetter, Assistant Editor||June 1, 2015
    IRI study uncovers consumer optimism...even among Millennials.

  • Thousands Flock to NYSCC Suppliers

    Thousands Flock to NYSCC Suppliers' Day

    May 18, 2015
    Once again, the cosmetic world meets in Edison, NJ.

  • Future Focus on Long-Term Beauty

    Future Focus on Long-Term Beauty

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||May 7, 2015
    Cosmetic Executive Women provide an update on global trends.

  • Do You Know PDC?

    Do You Know PDC?

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||April 27, 2015
    There’s a lot more than imposter fragrances driving the company today.

  • Top Stories from 2014

    Top Stories from 2014

    January 6, 2015
    Cleaning for a Reason hit home with visitors in 2014.

  • Have Consumers Had Enough of Promotions?

    Have Consumers Had Enough of Promotions?

    Emily Mayer, IRI||November 10, 2014
    FMCG promotions. Personal care. New Products. innovations.

  • Cosmopack Comes to New York

    Cosmopack Comes to New York

    Jamie Matusow, Editor||October 19, 2014
    Symposium focuses on the quality and capabilities of Made in Italy and Made in Europe packaging, formulation and machinery su

  • The Fall and The Rise of the Fragrance Industry

    The Fall and The Rise of the Fragrance Industry

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||October 6, 2014
    The business has picked itself up, dusted itself off and is growing again…but a host of issues could restrain the gains.

  • All Aboard for Beauty!

    All Aboard for Beauty!

    Nancy Jeffries, Online Editor||August 18, 2014
    Editors cruise along the Hudson River while they peruse the latest ideas in beauty and personal care.

  • Deal or No Deal?

    Deal or No Deal?

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||July 14, 2014
    What do private equity and strategic investors look for in a beauty business?

  • The New Beauty Consumer

    The New Beauty Consumer

    Nancy Jeffries, Online Editor||July 7, 2014
    FIT graduates look at shifts occurring in lifestyles and demographics.

  • On-Trend Scents

    On-Trend Scents

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||June 19, 2014
    Fragrance plays a key role in a product’s success. Here’s what’s working and why when it comes to product perfumery.

  • The Beauty Inside

    The Beauty Inside

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||May 5, 2014
    Mary Kay CMO Sheryl Adkins-Green likes how makeup can make women feel, but she relishes the real impact the cosmetics business can have.