The trade association recently released its 2021 impact report and the organization's president, Farah Ahmed, told CosmeticsDesign it outlines what was accomplished for the industry last year, both with domestic and international partners.
While the report outlines a number of specific actions the organization took last year, Ahmed said there are a few takeaways on what is happening in fragrance that personal care professionals can use to understand the segment right now.
One of the primary factors in changing how the Fragrance Creators Association and the fragrance industry more broadly function was the onset of COVID-19, Ahmed said. Leaders across the segment had to come together to solve the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
The Fragrance Conservatory
The Fragrance Creators Association created The Fragrance Conservatory, which holds information on an increasing number of fragrance ingredients including what it smells like, its synonymous ingredients and where it comes from in nature, among other things, Ahmed said.
“There was a silver lining in that sense, and we don't want to lose that,” Ahmed said. “What happened with the fragrance industry and with our membership is we became closer towards family as an industry, which was really heartwarming.”
Many of the main focuses of the organization in 2021 were table stakes for trade associations, like trying to keep raw materials and ingredients accessible to the industry, working to reduce tariffs and monitoring legislative efforts.
Sustainability as a fragrance linchpin
Like many industries, Ahmed said many of the innovations happening in fragrance today are focused on sustainability. For fragrance, though, it’s not just about positioning but the overall success of the segment.
“What many people don't know is that the success of the fragrance industry is so strongly predicated on a healthy planet, not just for the obvious sourcing of natural ingredients, but that biodiversity is so important in terms of inspiration for different scents,” Ahmed said.
Part of that work for the organization is education on environmental impacts on the global supply chain.
The other part of the trade association's sustainability work is advocating for regulation and legislation to aid in fragrance sustainability, including with the White House National Economic Council, EPA and Congressional Caucus for Fragrance.
One of the main efforts is to educate regulators on issues specific to the fragrance world, like the concept that levels of certain ingredients can’t be achieved in fragrance because they would be sensorially overwhelming and make the product unusable, Ahmed said.
Social impact in and outside of industry
Working on the industry’s social impact is twofold, Ahmed said. Like many other industries, the organization looks at how social issues impact the accessibility of ingredients needed for their product.
The organization is also looking at where the fragrance industry can improve the quality of life around the world. For example, Ahmed said the use of public toilets in India can be low due to malodor, causing hygiene and health issues from public defecation and excrement outside of a waste system.
“They created an agent that masked odor and put it in the public latrines,” Ahmed said. “That encouraged more people to use the public toilet. These kinds of things are maybe not top of mind when people hear the word fragrance.”
Additionally, the Fragrance Creators Association, along with its members, has put its weight behind legislation impacting social issues in the US like the Equality Act, which would codify non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Americans.
Importance of fragrance
Ahmed said one of the organization's key focuses at this time is educating those outside the fragrance world on its importance.
Scent is an important sense for humans and appears more often than people realize, she said. Recent research has started to investigate scent’s importance in wellness and brain development.
“What we want to do is, rather than preach about a product, show the science because … having the ability to access that information is really important,” Ahmed said. “We talk about educating policymakers and regulators, and we are investing in educating the public.”
She said fragrance can impact a consumer's perception of a cosmetic item, determining whether something is clean or not or even how often they use a cleaning product.