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Scents & sensibility


Global fragrances group Coty’s VP of marketing, Thomas Lalague, says you cannot fool Arab consumers

July 8, 2012 4:57 by

Do these “shooting stars” present any interest, even if it’s just a buzz thing for a year or two?

Maybe more associated with brands [through endorsements]. Most competitors use celebri­ties to endorse their products and they change celebrities [regularly]. They have the hot face of the moment at the right time.

In a very crowded market, with so many launches, so many star endorsements, and so many prod­ucts that seem to be very similar one to the other, how do you compete?

Yes, the market is growing (around 500 new products are launched a year) and it seems – and I underline “seems” – that [products] all are the same, but they’re not. First of all because, at the end of the day, there is something stronger than anything that we [marketers] can do, which is the brand. People have these irrational cravings for brand universes and stories, for this sense of belonging that comes with a brand. It’s a phi­losophy, a way of life. The best example in the history of fragrances is that the most simple, boring fragrance bottle has been the number one seller for the past 80 years: Chanel No.5. It’s a milestone because people want to belong to that universe. They don’t care if the bottle is boring, if they don’t like the juice. It’s the irrational part. People have been trying forever and ever to find the winning combination of juice + bot­tle + advertisement, but it doesn’t exist. You try to be true to the brand that you represent. If it’s soulless, you’ll never make it.

How does Coty view the Middle East market?

It’s a huge fragrance market and it has become crucial for most of our brands for many reasons; firstly, its very specific customer behavior. For Chopard, the Middle East is the number one market by far, and I will consider it first in the way I will develop a fragrance. Even if the brand is going to be launched worldwide, my juice will be Middle East-friendly: very sophisticated, heavy, qualitative. You cannot cheat Middle Eastern people. They know, and they were educated with raw materials that are very strong: ember, incense, rose essence… If you play with cheap raw materials or cheap formulations, they will point it out right away. And, contrarily to the rest of the world, where the women’s market is twice the men’s market, here it’s a little bit more even [between genders]. And men are not afraid to wear something that others would consider as women’s fragrance, such as rose essence, which is considered as only feminine in Europe, for example.

Fragrances tend to communicate around sen­suality, purity, nakedness. It’s quite a sensitive issue in the region. How do you adapt?

For Enchanted, we developed the visual with the Middle East in mind. We knew from the start that our princess would have her shoulders covered. More and more, we try to integrate the constraints [upstream]. Either we integrate that in the shooting intentions and have the nudity sensitive specific visual, or we have an additional visual, rather than to post-produce or paintbrush a visual that would not be true to the concept of the fragrance.

- By Nathalie Bontems

*First published on Communicate

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