A Singapore-based start-up is developing perfumes that solve the Asian consumers’ biggest pain points with fragrances, while also delivering tangible benefits to them.
Founder Joyce Lian is a chemistry graduate of the National University of Singapore (NUS) and has previous experience working with fragrances houses International Flavours & Fragrances (IFF) and Symrise.
Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Asia, Lian explained that she founded Scent Journer after interviewing over 300 people to find out the current issues consumers are facing when it comes to fragrances.
“It’s really important that you’re helping people to solve current issues consumers face with current products and not launching whatever you want based on the trends. We made it a point to interview at least 100 people and each interview had to be at least one hour to really find out what’s the pain point with fragrances, especially in perfumes.”
The start-up discovered that many interviewees refrained from using perfumes because it could irritate their noses.
“In Singapore, there are many people who don’t wear fragrances. This may be because of the humidity that makes fragrances way too strong, giving them an uncomfortable feeling. On top of that, especially Asians and women are more sensitive to fragrance, and you hear a lot of times, people get dizzy and nauseous from perfumes.”
Her own research led her to understand that the purity of alcohol was extremely important, which led the firm to source high-quality alcohol derived from sugarcane. The firm uses a bitter agent to make it undrinkable and non-taxable.
Furthermore, Lian observed that consumers have a more pragmatic approach to perfumes compared to their western counterparts. “It’s less about the art form of the fragrance and more about what the fragrance can do for me. If there’s no use for me, then it’s just an extra step in my routine.”
This led her to develop “mindful perfumes”, concoctions that do not just smell good, but also deliver tangible benefits for the user.
“To me, perfumes should not just be for that special occasion, it’s a self-care mindfulness routine for ourselves as well. Even though it may just be a spritz, it can instantly make you feel that much more put together and you’ll feel better about yourself as well.
“With the current technology and research around fragrance itself being collected through things like neuroscience, I saw an opportunity to bring something different to the market. There are many brands out there heading towards that general direction. Of course, we should not be forgetting about the art of perfumery.”
For instance, Dancing Blue Bees, a perfume that contains lavender from Bulgaria and France, as well as Lavandin, claims to help users relax and focus.
According to the firm’s own research, 87% of people felt that instantly felt more focused after smelling the perfume. Additionally, 92% of people felt it kept them alert, more composed and less stressed.
The brand is among five start-ups that underwent the NUS Venture Building Programme and secured the Start-up SG Founder Grant to build its brand. It is currently a portfolio company of NUS.
Since the launch in April 2021, Lian told us that sales have been growing month-on-month. In June this year, sales surpassed that of Christmas 2021.
This growth was attributed to its expansion into three offline locations: Tangs Department Store, Metro Department Store, and local brand showcase Design Orchard. While the firm started out as a digital brand, the focus for it moving forward would be to grow its offline touchpoints.
“Last year, we were really struggling because the [consumer acquisition costs] with Facebook and Instagram were crazy. In fact, we didn’t earn anything at all, we were losing money. That’s why we would really like to focus on things like pop-ups for now,” said Lian.
The firm sees a lot of opportunities for growth. It is planning to launch a new fragrance sometime this year and is also set to expand into more product categories, Lian said.
“We will have body lotions, and hand sanitisers, so it will really be like a complete set.”