Sephora Site Sets Olfactory Database

PARIS — Michael Edwards, author of the “Fragrances of the World” print and online compendium, is poised to help Sephora customers wade through the flood tide of scents.

The LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned perfumery chain has integrated a second option to its online fragrance finder at sephora.com. The feature is a scent-matching service that recommends the best matches between any of the 4,000 fragrances in the Fragrances of the World database and the 350 scents Sephora carries. That way, even if a scent is out of production, a consumer can try another one that comes close in olfactory qualities.

“[The service offers] recommendations based on what the client likes and what we sell, so it is totally complementary to the current feature, which is more of an educational tool about fragrance families,” said Kirsten Jarocki, fragrance merchandise manager at Sephora in San Francisco.

Edwards’ Fragrances of the World blossomed into an online resource in 2003, 20 years after its print version first came out, also for fragrance professionals.

“Navigating the market has become like searching through a wine cellar,” said Edwards, who was in Paris scouting new office spaces.

His Web site, fragrancesoftheworld.info, culls entries from 596 fragrance houses and offers a library of more than 4,000 scents, of which 428 were added in 2004. Information is updated monthly.

Fragrances of the World is a platform Edwards believes could one day be successfully brought from dot-com down to the store level.

“Retailers are seeing that they could do a lot by merchandising according to fragrance family,” he explained. “I am convinced that it would really renew interest in a sector that has been flat for three years.”

Additionally, the Fragrance Foundation is doing its part to expand the site’s reach. Starting in mid-March, it will offer a portion of the Fragrances of the World database free of charge on its Web site, fragrance.org. The goal is to create a portal that not only lists fragrances, their classifications and U.S. fragrance launch dates, but also provides U.S. distribution details and the opportunity for companies to submit perfumers’ comments as well as advertising and marketing material.

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