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Known for a long history of inspiring beauty insiders with the Sensorium, Firmenich opened the doors to consumers for the first time ever through a unique partnership with Sephora. Designed to educate and inspire consumers through the magic of scent, the exhibit was also a call to re-engage an industry in flux, according to Firmenich.

“One of the most exciting take-aways from the six-week event was understanding first-hand how engaged in scent people actually are when you trigger the right touch points,” said Debra Butler, vice president of creative marketing for Firmenich. “Our rigorous research on the lapsing USA user details that consumers are less engaged with fragrance. Why? The consumers feel that fragrance is out of sync with their needs…emotional and olfactive. We built this into the Sensorium and it hit the mark.”

The Sensorium addressed the multitude of consumer needs from many varied points of interest: education on materials, on science; the majesty of perfumers and artistic creation; the incorporation of every day olfactive moments; the recipes of emotion; and the technological dream. At the end of the 4-D fragrance journey, consumers were invited to explore their scent preferences through an unbranded experience at the “Fragrance Bar.”

Sensorium 2

Inside the “Lab of Emotions,” where consumers smelled scents created by Firmenich perfumers.

“Consumers lingered at the bar for much longer than we ever anticipated—sometimes two and three people deep,” said Butler. “It was so surprising, and so thrilling, to see them play! In fact, the same was true for industry experts who had the chance to re-discover the essence of what, and why, we create.”

An overall theme that stood out to Firmenich executives was the many different entry-points to understanding and loving the art of perfumery. Jerry Vittoria, president of fine fragrance North America for Firmenich, said that the “Sensorium showed the need to give consumers authenticity, to listen to a broader consumer base, to speak in multiple voices, and most importantly, to share the knowledge and passion of the perfumer.”

Firmenich also noted that the turnout over the six-week period far exceeded their expectations.

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Consumers sampling scents at the Fragrance Bar.

“The total attendance was close to 10,000 including consumers and beauty insiders,” said Butler. “Often there were crowds when changing from private, professional tours to public exhibition hours that we weren’t prepared for. We sold out three consecutive nights on Gilt City, and had creative agencies and groups from countless outside industries come seeking sensorial inspiration with their own clients. And of course, most of the industry, including competitive fragrance houses, came to share the dream with us. We didn’t want to send a single person away. It was an evangelical mission—changing the hearts of people one nose at a time!”

In partnership with Sephora, the $15.00 ticket cost could be redeemed for a purchase at any Sephora store and, or put towards a fragrance offered at the Fragrance Bar.

“Once a guest entered the space, it was so visually compelling and sensorially-intriguing that consumers seemed comfortable with the $15.00 entry fee,” said Butler. “When they learned that the fee was fully redeemable for product at any Sephora store, it was an extra perk for most. Most visitors were excited about what they discovered and many claimed they ‘found a new fragrance,’ often asking directions to Sephora Meatpacking as they left. They wanted to continue their journey. That was the real delight, especially as consumer engagement was always the ultimate goal. On that front, all agree, ‘home run.’”


If you are interested in advertising in Cosmetic World, please contact: Debra Davis 212-840-8800 x245