The Aramis and Designer Fragrances division of the Estée Lauder Cos. is trying something a little different in its quest to sell fragrances: a high-touch mobile application dubbed Ascent, which is delivered via an Apple iPod Touch at department and specialty store counters worldwide.

This story first appeared in the May 7, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We want to continue to evolve how we have a dialogue with our customers,” said Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, global brand president for Aramis and Designer Fragrances, BeautyBank and IdeaBank at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. “We want to introduce a high-touch, multisensory experience at point of sale, as well as reinforce service and help the consumer navigate the fragrance counter by finding the right scent.”

The program, built using the principles of aromachology, psychographics and kinesthetics, takes consumers through a series of questions with a scientific background, said Trudi Loren, vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide for the Estée Lauder Cos. “What is ‘fresh and clean’ to one person isn’t necessarily to someone else,” said Loren. “These questions, images and sounds tie into how scent and emotion work together, and allow people to discover fragrances they might not otherwise try.”

The application is available in 10 languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Taiwanese and Mandarin Chinese. At the moment, it only offers fragrances in Lauder’s Aramis and Designer Fragrances division as options, although Gabai-Pinsky noted that it could eventually roll out to include the company’s entire fragrance portfolio.

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In the U.S., the program will bow first in Nordstrom during the Half Yearly Sale opening weekend, May 28 and 29. The program is being rolled out globally and is currently operational in a number of markets, including the U.K., Germany, Spain, Russia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Hong Kong, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates, as well as in travel retail. It is also being promoted on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Carol Russo, senior vice president and general manager of sales and marketing for North America for Aramis and Designer Fragrances, said, “Our long-term objective is to create an impact on how we sell fragrances.”

The program can be seen in action at Selfridges in London. A sales associate demonstrating Ascent ran through the process in a matter of minutes. (That time lapse included a prolonged moment of hesitation due to one category of options, which requires the customer to choose between a selection of foods, including chocolate and cheese and wine.) Following the demonstration, the associate whittled the fragrance options down to three scents — Donna Karan Iris, DKNY Be Delicious Fresh Blossom and Michael Kors’ signature fragrance. He noted that the outcome of the experience can change based on the client’s mood.

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