Consuelo Perris: Here’s what the perfume industry can learn from the winemakers
Making fragrance sustainable comes with many challenges, the perfume executive explains.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
October 30, 2023
Alyssa Ashley was founded by the surrealist artist and perfume enthusiast Enrico Donati in the US, who named the classic perfume house after his youngest daughter Alyssa. Over the years, the brand has challenged the industry norms and boundaries and, as the International commercial manager, Consuelo Perris has seen a major market shift.
— For a while, people have not been interested in the fragrance when we were talking about the perfume business, but more in brand influence or marketing around the business. We are convinced that fragrance is a form of art, and we go back to produce the perfume in the way that it once was produced. When we do a creation, we don’t follow a trend. We go to a nose, who’s the artist here, and we discuss ideas to create a fragrance. This is possible for us because we (owning company Perris Group, Ed’s note), apart from Alyssa Ashley, own two brands positioned in the niche market. For many years, niche has found a place in the perfumery industry because they started to talk better back about raw materials, ingredients, and how the smell is transmitted. We’re the only brand that has a position in the commercial sector that works as an artistic and not as a commercial perfumery.
What are the challenges that come with this?
— To be such an outsider and to transmit this to the consumer because, as in many other fields and also in the perfume, the consumer is a little bit ahead of the industry. The challenge is to have contact with the consumer, transmit who we are, get feedback, and be interesting, says Perris. She continues:
— If you look at another business, wine, they were just talking about red, white, and nothing else for a long time. Then, they learned that the consumers liked to talk about wine, so they started talking about the grapes, how to age them, and such. Now, everyone can talk about wine and also a little bit about the way to produce it. The consumer is interested, and this is what we want to talk to the consumer about as well.
— We live in a world where around 3,000 new perfumes are launched every year. The fact that niche found a place in such a segmented market in the first place was already a miracle. This is because they found an interest in the consumer to talk about the fragrance. Now, many consumers are interested but don’t want to spend €200 for a perfume. There is a huge potential for growth.
Alyssa Ashley and Perris Group also partner with other companies to create and use new technologies, including those for neuromaterial.
— We have a classic approach to the fragrance, but innovative ways to find new raw materials and new smells. In the perfumery area, the most important thing is to find how to get out the special facet of the raw material and how to take it to absorb the real perfume. When you smell a rose, depending if it’s coming from Italy, France, or Bulgaria, it has a completely different smell. The challenge is to have the natural smell of the rose and let it stay for a long time, making a long-lasting fragrance and representing the variability of nature as much as possible. The company that we work with are studying a lot how to produce new molecules and extract new essential oils that could be interesting for us.
And also more sustainable.
— The fragrance is always a fight against sustainability. I honestly think that the real sustainability is the refilling — it doesn’t matter if you use glass or plastic. Both are recyclable but very expensive to produce in terms of energy. The real challenge is the refill and the problem in the cosmetic industry is the contamination, which you have to be protected from. For cosmetics or fragrances, our challenge is to find a way to make recyclable bottles or refilling of the product, keeping it safe in conservation.
— The industry is not ready — retailers should change completely the way they work. In Italian, we say ’sprecare’, to not throw away but use and buy things with intelligence. The same with clothes — we were used to buying cheap clothing, putting it on for two weeks, and then throwing it away. To have a responsible purchase and use of the product is the first thing for sustainability. The same goes for perfume. It is very difficult with refill and the challenge with the conservation but also because the retailers should change the way to sell the products.
— We are trying to differentiate our business, not only with the fragrance but with investments in, recently, a tech company and a pharmaceutical research company. We are trying to do research about a new way to produce perfume that can be much more sustainable than how it’s made today.
— Let me say that we have to be sustainable in extraction, in water, in alcohol, and in every raw material that we’re creating — this is what we now try to research.