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Puig’s WikiParfum Platform Informs Fragrance Selection

The constellation of perfume-related tools is brand-agnostic and leads to personalized recommendations.

PARIS ­— The vast array of fragrances on the market can be mind-boggling for consumers. To help tackle the problem, Puig has launched a range of technical solutions, anchored by WikiParfum, a digital brand-agnostic fragrance shopping and gifting tool that gives personalized recommendations.

WikiParfum is accompanied in-store by a new mobile application and by AirParfum, technology letting people experience successive scents without olfactive fatigue.

“The starting point is trying to solve one of the main barriers our category has, which we call the paradox of choice,” explained Camila Tomas, vice president of innovation and technology at Puig, the Spanish fragrance and fashion company, adding there is a lack of common vocabulary in the perfume industry. “Consumers sometimes feel overwhelmed, so the miss rate is really high. Technologies we have developed solve that issue.”

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WikiParfum is open innovation. “It is quite a revolution for the industry and for Puig,” said Tomas, explaining the shared information leads to “an unprecedented level of collaboration.”

“The purpose behind this ecosystem of technologies is to elevate the whole category of perfumes by creating a new common, easy-to-understand and visual language, which provides insight into the ‘métier’ of perfumery,” said José Manuel Albesa, Puig beauty and fashion president.

“This level of open innovation and collaboration with key retailers and competitors is unprecedented in our industry,” he continued. “Puig has taken the initiative to be open in sharing technology, resources and data to all partners that use our technologies. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

WikiParfum’s large digital compendium includes nearly 20,000 fragrances, 1,460 olfactive ingredients and 900 brands — and keeps growing. It is available in seven languages.

The platform’s content, developed by professional perfumers and scientists, has educating consumers at its heart.

Puig’s creation soft-launched in February 2020. It is powered by an algorithm giving made-to-measure fragrance suggestions from a wide variety of brands. Retailers such as Sephora, Boots, Ulta, Macy’s and Douglas are already using it.

WikiParfum, the 2.0 version that rolled out just before summer, is accessible online, through wikiparfum.com, and via the new mobile application. The platform today includes about 19,600 scents.

It allows people virtually to discover what a scent smells like — not an easy feat, as fragrance is invisible, therefore less Insta- and otherwise digital-friendly than makeup or skin care.

But still, prestige perfume is having a major moment, with sales surging again, especially online, since the coronavirus pandemic began. Fragrance is currently the fastest-growing prestige beauty product category overall, notching up gains of 23.3 percent between 2020 and 2021, according to market research provider Euromonitor International.

WikiParfum has a “scent visualizer,” letting people “see” fragrance. That’s because users can draw from a database with 1,400 photographs of raw olfactive materials used in perfumery. A visual representation of a scent’s ingredients is created using those, with a large image corresponding to a dominant ingredient. An ingredient appearing on a black background is intense in the juice, and is lighter if it’s shown on a white background.

“We created a new language that is really universal,” said Tomas.

WikiParfum also shares other key information, including a fragrance’s olfactory family, the perfumer who created it and the scent’s price range. Available, too, is a selection of fragrances containing similar ingredients.

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Each of these points can be delved into further through links, giving people access to information such as the origin and history of fragrance, and perfumers’ biographies.

To develop WikiParfum, Puig collaborated with “Fragrances of the World,” the largest independent guide to fragrance classification, which was created in 1984 by perfume authority and historian Michael Edwards. His database of expert perfume information feeds much of WikiParfum’s knowledge.

“The problem that we face is that so much of the information [about perfume] is incorrect,” said Edwards, referring to what people generally can access. He, from the outset, has aimed to create a common fragrance language.

WikiParfum’s database of olfactory mapping and a person’s own preferences are analyzed by an algorithm, which has been running since 2018. That then supplies personalized fragrance recommendations.

WikiParfum’s new mobile app, available on Google Play and the App Store, features a barcode reader, called EAN.Nose. Once a fragrance label is scanned with that, a shopper can visualize how a fragrance will smell and learn main facts about the perfume. EAN.Nose is currently in use in four Douglas doors.

If one is looking to gift perfume and knows the preferred scent, ingredient or olfactory family of the person being shopped for, WikiParfum can help identify the present.

Rounding out the WikiParfum platform is AirParfum, an airborne fragrance system that Puig launched in 2018 for in-store use. It was developed to address a consumer pain point — olfactory saturation after sampling numerous fragrances successively. That’s thanks to AirParfum transforming purified air into perfumed air, which allows people to try out scent after scent without confusion or sensory fatigue, according to the company.

AirParfum in store.

The technology, which is linked to WikiParfum and can lead to in-store fragrance selections, has also recently been deployed in museums and is heading into travel retail.

WikiParfum’s category approach is newfangled. “In making the whole category more desirable, as well as accessible, for the consumers, we all win,” said Albesa.

That includes sales-wise. The conversion rate from browsers to shoppers multiplies dramatically — by three — for those using WikiParfum profilers, according to Tomas.

“Our scent profiling ecosystem and tools provide real-time information about consumer preferences and olfactory trends,” continued Albesa.

The information is accessible through a universal dashboard, which this year has already registered 1.5 million scent profiles and is shared with all of WikiParfum’s partners. Through the dashboard, it can be possible, for instance, to see what ingredients or combinations of ingredients are being actively searched for on all the tools, or which brands and perfumers are the most popular.

“We can integrate this intelligence in our development process, and ensure we tailor our product portfolio to our customers’ preferences at high speed,” said Albesa.

“It is a journey,” said Tomas. “It’s a never-ending story.”