COMMODITY, AN ONLINE SCENT BOUTIQUE, IS AIMING TO CHANGE THE INDUSTRY BY MAKING IT EASIER TO DISCOVER A GREAT NEW FRAGRANCE.
The fragrance industry--a realm of cheesy commercials and tenuous celeb endorsements--has been fairly untouched by the Internet age, unless you count the flourishing knockoff economy. Yo Santosa, the creative director of the L.A. agency Ferroconcrete and co-founder of new online scent company Commodity, says.
“The biggest challenge is that you can’t smell what you see online. Currently the fragrance market is saturated with shirtless male models and lofty slogans. We wanted to create something modern that felt accessible even if you’re not into fragrances.”
Last year, a Ferroconcrete art director named Owen Gee came to Santosa with an idea for an online service that would allow customers to test scents in their own homes. Santosa, who had branched into starting companies with the haute cookie site Fruute.com last year, saw the market gap. The group explains on Kickstarter.
“Right now, finding a great fragrance is a complex process. The choices are overwhelming and the in-store experience is confusing. The problem is, after sampling a few fragrances our nose gets tired and can no longer distinguish what we’re smelling, it’s a guessing game.”
Gee and Santosa call their company Commodity, and the service it provides “scent tailoring.” On the homepage, you choose from 20 original scents, unpretentiously named things like “cloth” and “gin.” Then Commodity sends you a pack of 5-day tryout kits, which let you discover how a scent will change over time as it interacts with your body chemistry. A $50 price tag for a 30ml bottle (which ships for free) comes thanks to the company’s streamlined structure, which spends a fraction of what a big brand would on advertising.
Santosa tells Co.Design.
“We also put a lot of thought and detail into every aspect of the packaging. For example, we wanted something that is sequential for the tailoring kit. This way it’s clear that each scent should be discovered one day at a time. So the packaging comes with perforation in sets of 5 or 10, with numbers on them.”
The glass viles slip easily into a small leather sheath, which has thedimensions and weight of a nice pen.
Santosa sees Fruute and Commodity as field tests for future ventures, a business model pioneered by product designers like Yves Béhar that’s quickly spreading through other creative industries. She adds.
“We’ve learned a lot, seeing both sides (the client’s point of view as well as ours). I’ve always encouraged our team at Ferroconcrete to pitch their ideas if they have a great concept for a company.”
COMMENTARY: I like Commodity's idea of a no-frills, online fragrance boutique, that markets mens and womens fragrances that react with your body's chemistry, a marketing technique that they call "scent tailoring." This method of marketing fragrances is another great example of the "low-overhead, high quality products" business model that relies on eliminating the middleman and keeping product marketing costs very low or eliminating them entirely. This business model reduces capital investment and business risk by outsourcing R&D, production, marketing and distribution of the product. Commodity essentially becomes a marketing organization with very few employees. It does make the job of developing the company's brand image much slower, since it relies on public relations and word-of-mouth, and getting the word out by bloggers like yours truly. For non-shoppers like me this is a God send since there is no added pressure of going to a shopping model, having to sniff through dozens of different fragrances, and worrying about which fragrance to select and how much to spend. Commodity eliminates all of that drama, and making shopping for fragrances very simple.
Courtesy of an article dated March 13, 2013 appearing in Fast Company Design