The Fragrance Foundation is bringing its awards online for the first time, due to safety concerns over the coronavirus.
The Fragrance Foundation’s awards announcement, originally planned for April 3, has been postponed to June 4, when finalists will be announced via webinar. The awards ceremony, annually held at Lincoln Center, has been postponed to September and is being planned as a livestream. “If we can do better and the world improves before then, we will do it sooner, but right now it’s just planned to be a better webinar,” Linda Levy, president of the Fragrance Foundation, said. They will be open to the public.
Levy says the reasoning for the schedule is twofold: The timing is not only safer for attendees, but better from a commercial standpoint for fragrance. The category has been one of the hardest hit of the coronavirus: Prestige scent sales were down 13 percent in the first quarter, according to data from The NPD group.
The Fragrance Foundation has also moved the consumer choice voting to August, ahead of the event. “We’re hoping this will help spur retail excitement,” she said. “It will also help us invigorate the category in August.”
But those aren’t the only changes. The categories will be different, too. Historically, the ceremony always features three personal honorees, as well as product awards: Hall of Fame, Game Changer and Lifetime Achievement Perfumer (last year’s recipients were Tom Ford, Laura Slatkin and Dominique Ropion, respectively). This year, the foundation is forgoing honorees and instead will introduce new categories, including those based on gender-neutral scents and innovation.
Although nominees haven’t been announced, Levy opened the awards categories as a response to the expanding market offerings in fragrance. As conversations about sustainability have evolved to include synthetics and gender-neutral fragrances gain popularity, innovations in the category are myriad. Levy cited Costa Brazil’s ignitable resin, Fueguia’s antibacterial scents and Kilian’s perfumed lipstick as new formats she hopes to highlight with the new category.
Although it would be impossible to carry out the Fragrance Foundation awards ceremony in years past, its new iteration does have financial implications, as it is the most profitable event for the organization. “Every other event we do breaks even. Only the Awards is something where we spend a lot and bring in a lot of money,” Levy said. “The Fragrance Foundation, in the last few years has really looked at resources and where the community wants them. Even though we are not having the event, we need to look at 2021 to find ways to bring back events; the media coverage of the awards is so tremendous, we’ll find our way back.”
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