Science & Research

A gaze into the crystal ball

Trends come and go. The faster we can recognize them, the sooner we can translate them into Symrise products. It’s important to capture and understand these dynamic processes, hopefully before a trend becomes mainstream.

Fragrances are especially subjective; selling them is like selling emotions. It’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of consumer needs. How do they feel? What scent fits this feeling? What do they long for?

Ten years ago, Marketing Scent & Care and Consumer and Marketing Insights (CMI) created their own platform, NXT, to analyze and describe consumer trends at an early stage. The project arose from the recognition that the qualitative insights regularly collected by Marketing and CMI needed to be supplemented by fact-based quantitative data, allowing trends to be better weighed and classified and megatrends to be described. After all, these trends make long-lasting changes to society and culture. They remain; they don’t disappear after a year; they develop slowly. “The earlier you recognize them, the earlier you foresee their effect and influence on the future market so you can act accordingly,” says Nadine Scholz, Marketing Director, Beauty Care EAME in Clichy. For this reason, these studies take place every two or three years.

The interesting thing about the current NXT ALIVE study is its cross-divisional and -regional approach. “After talking with CMI, we came up with the idea to create a study that is relevant for almost all Business Units Scent & Care,” explains Nadine. At the end of 2018 there was a kick-off meeting in Paris where representatives from Fine Fragrances, Consumer Fragrance, Beauty Care, Home Care, Oral Care and Cosmetic Ingredients set common goals. “It was the first time that a truly international team worked on one of the studies.” Previously, the lead had always been clearly with a team in EAME, mostly in Clichy, Nadine adds. Muriel Schirmeyer-Gabison and Clara Fransioli for Fine Fragrances, Lucie Antunes for Cosmetic Ingredients, Jan-Philipp Ruessmann for Oral Care and Patricia Arnostti for Consumer & Market Insights have all made important contributions to the study.

Once all the business units had been brought on board, they took part in workshops with presentations by market research and trend agencies GFK and NellyRodi. NellyRodi operates primarily in the lifestyle sector. GFK is a global market research company that has conducted 25,000 consumer interviews in 19 markets. These agencies provided most of the raw data for the NXT ALIVE study. Global trend agency WCSN was another partner. “They regularly publish reports, brief trend information and updates that we can view and request through our online subscription,” says Nadine.

It was the first time that an international team worked on one of the studies.

Nadine Scholz, Marketing Director, Beauty Care EAME

PANDEMIC ACCELERATES TRENDS According to Nadine, the main task when evaluating individual studies was to compare and relate the qualitative, fact-based information about consumer motivation with the quantitative, forward-oriented data, to create a coherent picture. This involved a lengthy process in which the business units developed their own consumer megatrends vision, based on existing data and forecasts from the three partner agencies, that fit the needs of their own industry. Right in the middle of this process, the pandemic broke out. COVID-19 turned the world upside down and presented Nadine and her colleagues with unexpected challenges, since they were almost ready to present the finished study. Various sources published analyses and predictions about the effects of the pandemic during the first few weeks of its outbreak. There was soon enough material to compare this with the existing study results. It became apparent that the coronavirus seems to stimulate trends that were already in progress. “The pandemic is accelerating existing megatrends and bringing them even more clearly into focus,” says Nadine.

Six consumer profiles that will be relevant for the Scent & Care business units in the next few years have resulted from NXT ALIVE. They might even be relevant beyond that. Nadine explains: “We shared our new study with our colleagues in Flavor. Since they would like to work more closely with us in the future, we will continue to expand Symrise cooperation internally.”

You can find all the UN Sustainability Objectives in the SymPortal:

You can see the results of the study here:

© Symrise All rights reserved 2020