The rise of Digital Scent Technologies and what it means for brands and beauty retailers

The omnipresence of digital tools in our daily life has tremendously changed our shopping experience. The digital has changed drastically the way customers consume products and interacts with each other. Nowadays we are talking about the power of the community and it is essential for businesses to integrate the community in their marketing plans. Have you ever smelled a fragrance you loved very much in a crowd and wondered what it was? Most of the advertisements we see on tv or read in magazines manage to stimulate with success most of our senses (Touch, Sight and hearing). The sense of smell is a little bit behind regarding the technology developed to incorporate it within the customer experience.  Sensory Marketing has still some progress to make.

Since 2010, many companies tried to build a bridge between the digital and fragrances through a broad range of innovations. These Digital Scent Technologies cover 3 key applications: Detecting, transmitting and receiving scents through digital tools. In March 2012, Dr Marvin Edeas initiated the project on olfactory digitization. The Digital Olfaction Society (DOS) key objective is to promote digital smell technologies which have a real impact on our lifestyle.

Sensory branding, when scents become a new dimension for the consumer’s experience

Fragrances as opposed to audio or visual stimuli are more difficult to deal with. Controlling how long and how strong we want the consumers to smell them is quite challenging. One of the main worries being the clash of odors.

The Californian ready-to-wear company Abercrombie & Fitch built up its customer’s experience around 4 of our 5 senses (Smell with its fragrance Fierce N°8, Hearing: loud electro music is played in the shop giving the impression to be in a night club, Touch with its clothes and Sight: most of the shop is lunged into darkness excepted the clothes).

Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Ultraviolet is the first restaurant of its kind attempting to unite food with multi-sensorial technologies. The restaurant engages not only the sense of taste, but also sight, sound, touch, and smell. 



Using scents as signal

Have you ever thought about replacing your ringtones by a scent, sending a fresh smell of roses to your love one or waking up with the smell of coffee?sensorwake

Capitalizing on the strong link we make between memory, emotion and smell, Sensorwake uses scents to wake you up motivated and in a good mood. According to them it takes around 2 min for someone to wake up.

Capture and share

Nowadays everyone can share pictures or video in a blink of an eye. Slightly behind some companies developed technologies enabling us to capture scent and re-create it for our own pleasure.

In 2013, Amy Radcliffe developed The Madeleine, an analogue odour camera. The Madeleine captures the odorants (molecules components of the scent) present in the Headspace. The Headspace is simply the volume of air above the scented surface/flower. It is composed of all the volatile ingredients evaporating in the air. The Madeleine analyses the Headspace and identify the composition of it. The customer sends the result to a laboratory that will later on compound the fragrance. Knowing the composition, you can share it with people.


 Following a similar idea, David Edwards, a Harvard professor and head of science/art innovation lab Le Laboratoire, just unveiled the first commercial version of his oPhone  a mobile messaging platform for sending aromatic emoticons. Sometimes you may find challenging to describe an odour with words and images. Thanks to its mobile application one can describes the olfactive notes. Then the description is sent to the oPhone and the scent can be smelled by the person you sent it to.

A leap in the future of Digital Scent Technologies

We covered key applications of digital scent technologies. All of them required some additional tools in order to work.These innovations set the scene for a groundbreaking one: The Integration of Digital Scent Technologies in a smartphone. In 2016, the smartphone penetration rate in the world was 28% against 70% in the US. It is expected to reach 34,6% in 2019.

Huawei, the Chinese telecommunication equipment company is currently working on a smartphone that will be able to smell, taste, hear and see like humans do. The smartphone will be fitted with an air sensor able to detect different smells and distinguish sweet from sour.

For brands and fragrance retailers, the challenge lies in their ability to offer a tailored-made experience at any given step of their consumers’ shopping journey. Nowadays fragrance consumers still need to go visit Sephora, Marionnaud or Nocibé in order to smell fragrances. Retailers could capitalize on these technologies and incorporate them in their mobile application.

We are not there yet but the future of Digital Scent Technlogies is very promising.

Here are 3 key applications we would like to see in the future:

  1. The Shazam of fragrances: Capturing fragrances wherever we are.
  2. Sharing Scent: This would enable brands and retailers to provide a fully immersive experience to their customers.
  3. Scent Diagnostic: Scent diagnostics are not new but if we could integrate them in our smartphone we could do our shopping from home without stepping in a shop. Our smartphone would suggest us fragrances we might like based on our purchase history or fragrances we Shazamed. We would then smell them from our smartphone.

Could Gold become your new beauty routine eldorado?

golden-handGold always fascinated us and served many purposes throughout history. Some attributed magical properties to it and nowadays gold is considered as a revolutionary cosmetic ingredient. Cosmetic brands incorporating gold in their products are quick to mention Cleopatra’s beauty routine or the use of gold in rheumatoid arthritis treatment as an evidence of the amazing properties of gold. However the dermatologist community is divided on the real impact of gold in cosmetics and its potential toxicity.

Gold in skin care products can be found flaked or liquefied (in moisturizers, eye creams lip balm, facial…), but fairly recently cosmetics brands have been using golden nanoparticles for their yet to be proven benefits.


1. Reduces wrinkles and spots

The golden nanoparticles activate the basal cells of the skin and boost their elasticity, the wrinkles are reduced, and every skin marks will disappear. You will look definitely younger.

2. Stimulates the skin cells:

The golden ions stimulate the cells, veins and nerves improving your blood circulation and metabolism of your skin cells. The skin cells will secrete more waste and your skin will look healthier.

3. Anti-aging:

Gold reduces the dryness of the skin preventing premature aging.

4. Lightens the Complexion:

Rumour has it Cleopatra was using gold mask as part of her beauty routine to keep her skin beautiful, glowing and youthful.

5. Slows down collagen depletion:

Collagen is responsible for your skin elasticity, smoothness and flexibility. However as we grow old we produce less and less collagen. Gold can slow down the depletion of collagen in your skin cells.

6. Your new ally against the sun damages:

Gold reduces the production of melanin. The impact of sun exposition is reduced.

7. Treats allergies:

Thanks to its antioxidant properties, gold helps to reduce acne or other skin allergies whilst improving blood circulation.

8. Reduces inflammation:

Gold’s anti-bacterial and anti- inflammation properties helps oxygen to penetrate the skin and fosters cells renewal. It will leave your skin rejuvenated.

9. Improve skin elasticity:

Gold can breakdown elasticity and restore your skin elasticity.

10. Glowing Skin:

Gold helps in improving the blood circulation, hence it helps hydrate and maintain the skin’s moisture level. The small particles of gold get absorbed into the skin imparting a rich glow. This makes the skin healthy, fresh and radiant.


Tatsiana Mironava, PhD,* from Stony Brook University, who found that size (45 nm are more toxic than the smaller nanoparticles of 13 nm), concentration and duration of application plays an important part in the toxicity of the material, with the wrong choice leading to a disruption of cell movement, cell replication and collagen contraction. In addition, at the wrong concentration, the gold nanoparticles inhibited the ability of pre-adipocytes to differentiate into mature adipocytes (adipogenesis). […] It is clear, however, that the decreased cell migration and decreased ability to contract collagen impact skin healing. “If your skin is wounded, collagen fibers in pre-adipocytes must contract or pull the wound closed. Therefore, wound healing is suppressed with toxic levels of the gold nanoparticles.”

It is fair to assume that impacting skin healing could have the opposite effect than the one expected and could foster wrinkles formation and skin aging. More studies need to be done in order to fully assess the dangers and benefits of golden nanoparticles.

Reversible Effect and Future

“The important thing to note, according to Mironava, is that the effects of the gold nanoparticles are reversible at certain concentrations.”

Down bellow a list of some of the products using Gold:

Kinka 24K Gold Mask -Kinka Japan – 39.74€

1. Kinka 24K Gold Mask

One of the best ways to use gold to keep skin tight, firm and youthful, is as a facial mask, which puts a sheet of flat thin gold on your face to provide golden skin. These gold facial masks are made with genuine 24-karat gold leaf, leaving your skin moisturized and elasticized. More importantly, while you wear one, you get to feel like a burnished deity!

24k Eye Serum – L’Core Paris – 401€


Created by nature perfected by human L’core cosmetics combines Nanotechnology with the best conductors such as diamonds and 24 k gold to bring your skin to perfection. L’core cosmetics are a breakthrough in the skincare industry that offers a natural selection and a non- surgical solution to face lifts, eye-lifts and skin rejuvenation. Eliminates the needs for going under the knife or injections, with all natural certified organic ingredients.

24K GOLD BODY OIL SHIMMER – Luxury Gold Cosmetics – 39.9€

Gold shimmer dry oil

Illumination is a unique glittering dry, oil with a mild fragrance. Upon application, a subtile veil of Gold adorns your body in a luxurious embrace of refined gold particles. An extravagant touch on the skin or shine to the hair.

For more products click here

Karim Bangoura

Karim Bangoura
Digital marketing executive with 4 years of work experience within world leading fragrance houses.


Waterless beauty routine, less is more

According to a Mintel report, by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries of regions with absolute water scarcity. By 2030, the world will only have 60% of the water that it needs if current water usage doesn’t change.  Some brands are already looking into alternatives in order to limit their dependence on water.

But before we go any further, just a quick reminder on how our skin works.  In order to protect itself the skin secretes Sebum, an oily /waxy matter which purpose is to make the skin waterproof and to protect it from drying out.  As we are getting older we produce less and less sebum and our skin becomes more sensitive to the cold, sun or pollution. Most of the cosmetics available on the market are water based formulation. Water fosters the penetration of the actives in the skin and is a cheap solvent for cosmetics formulations. However water does not fix dehydration issues for the deeper layer of the skin.

What are the benefits of waterless cosmetics?

No more preservatives

One of the big problem with water based formulation is the high content of water which makes the products highly sensitive to bacteria. For these products preservatives are necessary. In some cases, preservatives can cause some irritation or allergic reactions.  As you take the water out you do not need preservatives anymore and you can keep them longer.

More concentrated formula

The water can be replaced by glycerin, hyaluronic acid or some botanical extracts allowing higher dosages of active ingredients. In some case it can even reach 100%. These water less formulas offer long term skin protection and better solubility for Vitamin C or Retinol.

Better for the environment

Less is more. As the formulas are more concentrated, consumers don’t need to use a lot.  Therefore brands can sell their products in smaller packaging and reduce their impact on the environment.

Better suitability to all kind of skin type

Waterless products are more efficient at protecting the skin than water based products. Without preservatives and water, the risk of irritations or allergic reactions is significantly reduced.

These waterless cosmetics created the buzz in Korea and later on in the US.

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Organic Flowers Ferment Water Cream

Korean brand Whamisa offers a range of ‘water’-free skincare products using botanical extracts instead of traditional purified water. It uses a natural fermentation process to distill and preserve the potency of select natural ingredients.


New in Italy from Zuccari under the [aloevera]2 brand is Extremely Delicate Aloe Shower Gel, said to be the “first shower gel in the world formulated without added water” – which is replaced with pure double-concentrate, non-pasteurized and non-carbon filtered aloe vera juice extracted using the “reversosmose” process. It contains prebiotics and probiotics, claimed to balance the bacterial flora; and the patented AJDA (hyaluronic acid from aloe), is said to maintain hydration.

One Love Organics

Skin Savior Multi-Tasking Wonder Balm

Skin Savior removes dirt and makeup without stripping the skin, moisturizes, illuminates and even turns mineral powder into a glowing foundation treatment. With an antioxidant-rich blend of organic coconut oil, mango butter, jojoba and chia, this citrus and vanilla treat is the perfect solution for just about any of your skin’s needs.


LJH TeaTree 90 Essence


Formulated with 90% natural tea tree extract, you can feel its power of revitalization as Tea Tree 90 Essence alleviates uneven skin tone, minimizes redness, refreshes the skin, and improves overall complexion. With over 800x more Vitamin C than an apple, your skin will thank you for the invigorating treatment that leaves it rejuvenated and radiant.


From Fitting to customizing, Virtual Reality is revolutionizing the beauty industry

The digital has redefined the shopping experience for beauty products consumers. A recent study from Deloitte showcased that digital influenced 64% of all in-store sales in 2015.One step at the time new technologies are incorporated in the customer journey. From mobile applications to augmented reality, brands and retailers leverage these digital tools in order to offer a compelling experience to their consumers.   Virtual Reality is becoming mainstream, the cost of the equipment is getting more and more affordable. Beauty brands and retailers already started using it in order to create an immersive experience for their consumers.

Virtual Guide

virtual artistIn 2014 L’Oréal introduced Makeup Genius and its virtual mirror enabling consumers to digitally try color cosmetic products. A lot of mobile applications with similar feature were released later on.  In 2016, Sephora introduced its new app Virtual Artist , L’Oréal and  Snapchat created the first beauty filter for digitally applying makeup

Although these applications contribute to guide consumers through their shopping, a raising proportion of consumers would like to customize their makeup.

Virtually customized

Nail Revolution Beauty  - ExperienceNumerous brands have developed devices able to scan/copy colors and create customized makeup (Nail Revolution, Adorn 3D Printing Pen or Lancôme Le Teint Particulier) enabling consumers to match their makeup to their clothes.

Both combined 3D printers and these matching devices are the future of makeup. They represent a significant growth opportunity for beauty brands.  It is just a matter of time before they become the ultimate tool for consumers to create their unique style.



Nail Revolution lets you customize the colour of your nail polish


Nail Revolution Beauty Experience

If you ever dreamed about matching your nail polish colour with your dress, now it is possible. Capitalizing on  the savoir-faire of the Swiss company ColorixProvaine offers to its consumers the possibility to customize the colour of their nail polish.

Nail Revolution uses Colorcatch (colorimeter), this sensor scans the surface to copy and identify up to 5 major colour components.
In order to do so the sensor analyses around 50 000 pixels separately. Once done, the customer can pick what level of each major components she wants for her nail polish. The nail polish is prepared in 3 min. Nail Revolution is able to create up 1600 colours.

Nail Revolution should be released early 2017. One nail polish should cost around 20€.

One step at the time DIY is becoming more and more trendy. It would be interesting to see whether this Nail Revolution could find its alter ego in other colour cosmetics products.


Karim Bangoura

Karim Bangoura
Digital marketing executive with 4 years of work experience within world leading fragrance houses.


6 Reasons for beauty retailers to use iBeacons in their store


Last estimation shows around 2 billion for smartphone users in the world and should reach 2.16 billion in 2016. Fragrances and cosmetics retailers needs to take this into account when building their strategy . They need to think mobile first in order to provide the best shopping experience to their hyper connected consumers.  With an average of 50% of their consumers using their smartphone whilst shopping, point of sales need to be redesigned and integrate digital tools enabling retailers to assist their customers at every stage of their customer journey.

Among the digital tools available on the market, iBeacons offer a broad range of services that would be mutually beneficial to both retailers and customers. iBeacon’s operation distance is around 50m.  For now only new smartphones can support iBeacon. Once connected to smarphones via bluetooth, retailers will be able to:

  • Guide visitors :  Using push notifications, visitors located within 50m from the store are invited to come in the store. Depending on how far they are from the store, an itinerary can be provided to them. Once inside the store, another itinerary will help them to find where their product of interest is.
  • Identify zones of interest or evaluate the effect of a campaign: All smartphones connected to iBeacons can be tracked. Thanks to the iBeacons the retailers can identify what part of the store attract more people and for every smartphone a map of interest can be done.

iBeacons mapping beauty experience

  • Welcoming visitors: Sending a personalized message or offer  to a visitor as he/she is coming in the store. This can be used to address the needs of a loyal customer. Depending on the quality of the information we have on the customer, the message will enable to convert this visitors into a shopper. This type a message to customers gives a feeling of being treated like someone special and not any customers.
  • Targeted discount: If we notice that a customer spends quite a long time in front of shelf, offering him/her an immediate/ limited  discount could be the extra push the customer needed to purchase the product.
  •  Geo-localized discount: Informing any visitors in the vicinity about a discount.
  • Marketing Campaign : Creating a game using the unlimited possibilities iBeacons can offer (Treasure Hunt).


Karim Bangoura

Karim Bangoura
Digital marketing executive with 4 years of work experience within world leading fragrance houses.

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