The Business of Smell

Multisensory innovation. The fascinating olfactory art is an increasingly rich area of professional opportunities. How to train the managers of the future?


by  Rossana Martini. Cover image: Margaret Mitchem for I’M Firenze Digest.

Have you ever wondered how your life would be different if you couldn’t use your smell?
Many take this sense for granted or even fail to recognise its importance. Could they be more wrong?
In recent years, the art of fragrances has evolved significantly. It has moved beyond just being aesthetically pleasing to having functional benefits. Nowadays, fragrances have evolved beyond just pleasing our sense of smell, promoting relaxation, concentration, comfort, confidence, and well-being in specific environments. Sometimes they can even affect how we interact and react to certain situations.
There is a simple explanation for that. In our nose, we have more than 400 olfactory receptors that can be stimulated, and perfumes are like chemical messages that our nervous system interprets, generating different sensations and emotional states.
Biotechnologists are working to develop perfumes and aromas that evoke positive emotions. In this mission, perfume companies and their experts are using new AI technologies, which provide valuable insights into formulas and reference targets. Neuroscientists and other experts also lend their expertise in the laboratory to study the impact of certain smells from our past or everyday experiences on brain function.

The fragrance market’s race for innovation

The fragrance industry has experienced continued market growth thanks to innovation across categories and expansion to new geographical areas. This has led to the introduction of innovative ingredients since markets like the Far Eastern countries have different olfactory traditions, and fragrance companies need to adapt to meet the needs of consumers accustomed to other scents.
It is, therefore, clear that the fragrance market will continue to grow and evolve through continuous scientific and technological research and, as a result, there will be an increasing demand for specialised professionals in the field.
Fragrance creation involves more than just noses; experts must know the raw materials and how to mix and modulate them to obtain unique scents. Product evaluators and marketing and communication specialists are also important in perfume companies.

© Margaret Mitchem, 2023.

Niche perfumery calls!

But how do you acquire these skills?
While gaining experience in the field is undoubtedly valuable, brand-new and innovative perfumery programmes have been created to meet market needs. Istituto Marangoni is ready to introduce the first comprehensive international higher education programme for fragrance and cosmetics management in Milan, Paris and Florence.
The Florence campus will launch a Master’s degree in Olfactory Experience Management for the Luxury Industry, a postgraduate programme focusing on luxury and niche perfumery. The course will explore how luxury interiors, retail spaces and other exclusive environments can create a multisensory atmosphere, making the experience even more glamorous and engaging for customers and visitors.
Participants will also explore the fascinating world of artistic and niche perfumery and how to arouse specific emotions, experiences and moods through niche fragrances in various settings, such as homes, hotels, spas and commercial spaces.

© Margaret Mitchem, 2023.

Future players in the fragrance industry

Istituto Marangoni will also introduce an undergraduate programme that deals with the techniques, organisation and economics involved in making fragrances and cosmetics, teaching students how to manage business problems by responding to market changes, product innovation and the latest industry trends. By enrolling in the Product Management for Fragrances and Cosmetics course, participants will learn the top strategies to optimise production, marketing and distribution for luxury perfume and beauty brands, analysing the main financial performance indicators.
They will address every aspect of launching new perfumes or beauty products, from research and development to communication, analysing different market segments and delving into cutting-edge techniques for product presentation, marketing, distribution, retail and web communication, and olfactory marketing.
The world of perfumery is fascinating and full of possibilities; all you have to do is dive in and explore them all!

Margaret Mitchem is an undergraduate student in Multimedia Arts at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.

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