Bond No. 9 to Ride the Cyber Wave

Fragrance house is hoping to appeal to the tech-savvy with its first “digital fragrance,” which doubles as a three-dimensional QR code.

Bond No. 9 New York is hoping to appeal to the tech-savvy with its first “digital fragrance,” which doubles as a three-dimensional QR code. “The fragrance business is always doing the same thing and the same thing and the same thing,” said Bond No. 9 founder and owner Laurice Rahme. “We wanted to really capture what is going on in the world. Everybody is online. Everybody is mobile. So we have to do a fragrance for that world. It’s a different world.”

This story first appeared in the April 5, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Aptly named HTTP://WWW.BONDNO9.COM, the scent, which launches June 30, features an enlarged royal blue QR code on the electric yellow bottle, which customers can snap with their smartphones to purchase on the Bond No. 9 site. The code works through ads, in person or via the storied Bondmobile, which will be covered in the design. “What I love about the packaging is that for all of us in this industry talking about how difficult and expensive it is to train and retain sales people, to have a bottle that speaks to the consumer, directly, is the dream,” she said. “It’s not a department store [distribution]. It’s not Sephora. It’s beyond that. It’s the most direct way to buy that you could ever have.”

The $250 scent, Rahme said, is meant to capture the essence of the world’s “largest village,” the Internet, a first for the neighborhood-marking New York-based fragrance brand. “It’s a destination,” she said of the Web. “It’s a neighborhood. It’s just a digital neighborhood.”

According to Rahme, the idea for a digital scent came to her once Bond began adapting QR codes into its advertisements about a year and a half ago. “When I saw it, I said this QR thing is genius, I have to do a bottle like this,” she said.

Because HTTP will have no in-store presence and will be available only virtually, the juice had to have universal appeal. For the task, Rahme brought on board master perfumer Michel Almairac of Robertet to imagine a unisex blend of “contemporary tropical” fruits. “To get the scent right was difficult; it’s what I call universal, and that’s not easy to do,” said Rahme, adding that internal studies concluded there are more men than women shopping online. “It couldn’t be too feminine or too masculine. It had to be something everybody likes. It had to be young. That’s for sure. It’s not for your grandmother, we know that. She would never get an app.”

The result is a “fresh, fruity, woody” blend of bergamot, pineapple and juniper berry top notes, a heart of apple, blackcurrant and cedarwood and a base of patchouli, moss, musk and amber. “I wanted to create a fragrance in tune with the times,” said Almairac of the scent. “A fragrance which looks like [a] digital wave which [is] surfing on bright, contemporary and powerful notes.”

Rahme said HTTP, which was launched also to celebrate the brand’s 10th anniversary in September, is the first in a “digital collection,” which will receive two new scents a year and hopes to eventually adapt for different countries, in different languages .

Although the brand would not talk numbers, industry sources estimate the launch could generate $5 million in its first year, roughly double sales results from a typical Bond fragrance rollout. “It will be available in infinite digital doors,” said Rahme, who plans to implement a social media campaign, leveraging the brand’s 66,000 Facebook friends. “It’s Bond for the new world.”