Byline: Julie Naughton / Faye Brookman
Sampling has come a long way from the ubiquitous fragrance-scented strips found in popular consumer magazines.
As the category continues to evolve, consumers can test powder-based cosmetics from magazine editorial pages, try shades of foundation from advertising inserts and even sample fragrances from dispensers in restaurant bathrooms.
The new world of beauty retailing is dictating these new forms of sampling. With self-service the new mantra, marketers have had to find fresh ways to get samples into shoppers’ hands. “Women have less time to spend at beauty counters. They want to spend time at home and make their own decisions,” explained William Fox, chairman and chief executive officer of Arcade, a leading sampling firm. He pointed out that the industry has matured from early ScentStrips for fragrances to bracelets containing fragrance samples.
So what’s next — fragrances spritzed off the Internet?
That might not be so far-fetched.
NCR and Aerome, for instance, have teamed up to create self-service scent kiosks that they believe represent a wave of the future.
NCR’s Web Kiosk Solution with Aerome scent technology features interactive menus designed to attract shoppers’ attention. As consumers interact with the kiosk, they trigger the Aerome Scent Generator for products that have a scent component, such as a shampoo or a perfume. According to the company, each scent is delivered directly in front of the kiosk — there is no overlapping of aromas, nor does the system flood the immediate environment.
The Aerome ScentController releases aromas from an Aerome ScentCartridge in sync with audiovisual images presented on the kiosk. The compact kiosk can be mounted on a pole, wall or countertop. It supports fully synchronized, full-motion video, as well as audio and wireless communications.
“Scent technology brings another dimension to the world of communication, to help retailers increase product turnover, create brand recognition and promote cross-selling — for example, by promoting a Calvin Klein scent in a store that also sells Calvin Klein fashions,” said Des Martin, vice president of general merchandise marketing for NCR’s Retail Solutions Group, which worked with Aerome to develop the Web Kiosk Solution that the two are marketing.
Aerome’s applications can be integrated with retailers’ existing consumer applications, such as advertising messages, Internet pages or product information.
The Aerome technology has been in development in Germany since the late Nineties. In Germany, it is being used by Henkel and Schwarzkopf to promote Fa body care products at the retail level, and by the Douglas Perfumeries chain to sample beauty products in its stores.
In the U.S., Aveda has signed a deal that will put self-service scent kiosks in 23 of its Environmental Lifestyle Stores this year, and Aerome and NCR are also reportedly in talks with Dillard’s and others to implement the technology.
And Aerome isn’t the only one marketing high tech computerized sampling systems. DigiScents, an interactive media company formed last year, is marketing its iSmell Digital Scent Technology to companies in a number of fields, including beauty, as well as to consumers. The company’s software and its iSmell computer peripheral device give consumers the ability to theoretically smell anything from a new shampoo to the hottest new fragrance.
“Scentography adds an entirely new dimension to the Web and other forms of media and opens a new channel of communication to the audience,” said Dexster Smith, president of DigiScents. Developers, he said, can use DigiScents technology to scent-enable Web sites, e-mail, e-commerce and online advertising, making the multimedia consumer experience more memorable.
The company will launch its Snortal, which it is billing as the world’s first scent-enabled Web portal, this summer.
“The sense of smell is closely tied to memory and emotion, making scent a powerful way to reinforce ideas,” added Joel Bellenson, chief executive officer of DigiScents. “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a scent is worth a thousand pictures. Scent is very evocative — just think of the applications in advertising and education.”
In the cosmetics realm, Bellenson added, possible applications include click-and-sniff samples, ambient fragrance for Web-based stores and interactive scent mixing.
Arcade recently launched its Interactive Cosmetic Sampler at the recent Seventh on Sixth Fashion shows. The colors used on the runways were interpreted on a kiosk at the show.
“Many people were watching the trends at the show and then coming and trying those colors on at the kiosk,” explained Les Neumann, technical director for Arcade Consumer Communications, a division of Arcade. The kiosk, which Neumann calls the first release of the program, allows visitors to click on a shade and view it on a model’s face on the screen. The colors can be viewed on eyes, lips and face, and in matte or gloss finishes. Within the next month, Neumann said the software will be upgraded to include layering so that eye and lip pencils can be applied.
Eventually, a camera will snap the users’ photograph so visitors to the kiosk can see their own image adorned with the shades. The kiosk can also distribute a beauty prescription listing the products and shades for purchase. Also, sampling systems will be accessible via the kiosk. For instance, shoppers could request a sample of a color they tried during the virtual makeover.
Laura Condolora, vice president of marketing for Arcade, added that the technology has many uses. “Department stores can test a new line by just installing a kiosk, or it works well for beauty Internet sites that set up in shopping malls,” she said. Arcade hopes that the kiosks will also serve as a spot for women to sample makeup while also checking their e-mail. “It is like a beauty ATM,” said Condolora. The technology will eventually be available where women can shoot their own images at home and perform virtual makeovers on their personal computers.
The kiosk can lure people with scent, too. At the shows, the kiosk was dispersing Demeter’s Dirt.
In addition, Arcade Consumer Communications has just formed a strategic alliance and joint venture with TriSenx, a technology company headquartered in Savannah, Ga., to develop a peripheral device, which is designed to deliver scent and taste simulation from a consumer’s or retailer’s computer. The intent is to create a sensory-enhanced Internet experience, said Jay Gartlan, Arcade’s senior vice president of marketing and creative services.
A Florida-based company, Fragrance Technologies, is also experimenting with its Electronic Fragrance Samplers, which are built for comparative sampling of multiple fragrances at retail. By pushing a button, consumers can test fragrance without applying it to their skin.
Even the classic sampling vehicles — cards — have evolved in the past several years. Once used simply for fragrances and squishy shampoo samples, technology has emerged to allow lifelike sampling of color cosmetics and more.
Several years ago, Arcade began selling the PowdaTouch Sampling System, a proprietary, patent-pending technology that allows trials of eye shadows, powder blush, face powder and bronzer. It is a sampling system where cosmetic powder is deposited between two layers of paper, die cut with a tab that lifts up to reveal the powder rendition area.
Allure magazine was the first to utilize the technology when in September 1998 it sampled scores of eye shadows, powder blush and powders in its beauty editorial pages. Glamour magazine followed that October with similar editorial usage.
Fox points out that the system can deliver up to four different powders on a single carrier, making it an “ideal vehicle for telling a color story or delivering trial of a single product in a shade range.” Arcade was recently granted a trademark for the PowdaTouch name.
As far as color cosmetics, Arcade has new technologies allowing for multi-shade sampling on one card. Last year, when Almay launched Skin Stays Clean, it used an Arcade vehicle capable of offering samples of 10 shades. Fox said that the company’s BeautiSeal Sampling System, a pull-apart sampler in a pressure-sensitive format, will launch its first three-well version of the system this spring in a sampler for Revlon ColorStay Shine Control Makeup.
“We’ve produced millions of BeautiSeal samplers offering trial of treatment and personal care renditions, but liquid foundation is, by far, the biggest category,” said Fox. “Now, marketers have a way to get three best-selling shades into the hands of consumers who can try them how and when they want — at home, when they’re not already wearing foundation.”
Another vehicle is Arcade’s LiquaTouch Sampling System, a pull-apart technology for alcohol-formulated liquid products. “This has been an enormous success and the results of a market research study conducted by the NPD Group Inc. showed that among men surveyed, the LiquaTouch Sampling System was found to be a new and different way to try cologne,” said Fox.
Some cards are even being upgraded to include application tools. Take Klocke of America, which offers “peel-and-reveal” and pourable technology for cosmetics, hair care and pharmaceutical applications. The company is currently producing lipstick cards for Clinique, Clarins and others that show photographs of lipstick tubes along with samples of the colors and tools with which to apply them.
And they aren’t the only ones. For the past two years, Color Prelude has offered a flat card with three cardboard applicator sticks, offering consumers an alternative to their fingers as they sample cosmetics.
Even products that have not been traditionally sampled in packette form are heading in that direction. Flexpaq offers the patent-pending Mascarapaq. It is a sample-size packette with a small mascara brush embedded in it. The technology can also be used with lip brushes, foam-tip applicators and spatulas for various product applications.
This spring, Flexpaq is also offering mailable, folding sampling cards for Chanel products that include samples of Le Regard Laque Eye Lacquer, Hydrabase Creme Lipstick in Red Hot and Fruite Cheek Gelee. To use the samples, the consumer lifts the card from the top, slides out the samples and removes the foil backing.The sample colors are showcased under clear bubbles. The top half of the card invites consumers to come to a Chanel counter for a makeover and outlines the prices and shades of the makeup sampled on the card.
Going beyond color and scent, Fox sees tremendous opportunities for sampling other products. The company has produced ScentStrips for Pantene shampoo and Bain du Soleil sun care. Fox sees a future in which sampling will be used more in household products such as fabric detergents and other items like sun care.
Feel like wearing a sample? Arcade offers scented tattoos. According to Fox, Coty’s new Jovan Individuality is the first to use the technology. The fragrance hit retail shelves in March, and the tattoos are appearing on store displays and in magazine inserts. Each sample consists of four stickers, each scented with one of four Individuality essences — earth, fire, air and water — and printed with a symbol representative of the essence. A few years ago, the company developed scented bracelets for the launch of Calvin Klein’s CK Be fragrance and offered scented bookmarks when Lancome launched Poeme.
“We’re proud of our ability to come up with vehicles that marry perfectly to the customer’s marketing strategy,” said Fox. “For instance, in the case of Jovan Individuality, what could be cooler than scented tattoos? You can smell them, you can apply them to your skin. You can combine the four essences to come up with your own scent. These tattoos are interactive and are designed to be attractive to the younger audience Coty is reaching out to [with this fragrance].”
Paul Morris, director of sales and marketing for Orlandi Inc., agreed there’s tremendous potential in nontraditional sampling avenues. Orlandi also has been working on hundreds of different sampling vehicles. Among them are ways to link home products with scents. “It makes sense when you look at the explosion of home fragrances in everything from candles to scented stationery,” he explained. “Sampling is anything but just traditional fragrances anymore.”
Orlandi is separating itself from the competition in sampling by creating salable samples. “A lot of what we’re doing is retail as opposed to just working on a launch,” said Morris. For example, for Yankee Candle, Orlandi created an air freshener resembling a candle. “It is for when you are traveling and can’t light a candle,” he said. “It is an impulse item.”