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- 6 Jul 2010
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Perfumer, Thy Name is Nobody

Michel Gutsatz, a brand strategy expert at The Scriptorium Company, takes a personally informed and critical look at the iPerfumer app…


On 17 May 1979, during a meeting of the Société Technique des Parfumeurs de France (the Technical Society of French Perfumers), of which he was Vice President, my father Yuri Gutsatz, gave a speech at a conference which was entitled, “Perfumer, Thy Name is Nobody”. He deplored the erosion of a “perfumer’s perfumery” in favour of “marketing perfumery”. He maintained that none of the companies that boasted of their creations in every advertisement ever displayed the name of its perfumers… since then, the world has not changed.

17 June 2010: Givaudan launched “iPerfumer – the first mobile counselling tool for choosing a perfume”. Noting that, “discouraged by the extensive range of choices, many people eventually give up. Others still buy the same perfume, to avoid making a mistake. The studies we conducted in this area shows that, particularly among young people, there is no propensity to buy perfume, but on the contrary, they are enthusiastic about technology”. Givaudan (which bought Roure Bertrand, the company where Yuri Gutsatz spent his entire career) offers an iPhone application enabling consumers to select a perfume that corresponds to them. The process is simple: after identifying myself by sex, age and country, I am asked to take note of the six olfactory families proposed (Citrus / Chypre / Floral / Fougere / Oriental / Woody) – some famous examples are cited for each of them. I can, if I wish, enter the names of perfumes known or used. Based on this information, a list of perfumes appears, my “list of recommended perfumes”….


This application has little interest – for at least three reasons:

It is strictly functional and does not incite in me any desire to buy a particular perfume. In fact, it merely offers me a list of perfumes with no other information concerning them, except for photographs (when available) and their three olfactory families. This deficiency is appalling: I believed that the main qualities of “perfume” were fantasy and desire … and I therefore looked forward to a story (the name of the perfume creator, for example). About N°5, I only know one fact: it is a powdery floral aldehydic that was launched in 1921!

It is not very ergonomic: having finished entering my profile, for example, I could no longer access the olfactory families (except by creating a new profile…), the only one tool available for information…

Consequently, it is not informative. In the end, iPerfumer tells us nothing about perfumes or perfumery, even though the overriding trend amongst 21st century consumers is, on the contrary, having unlimited access to knowledge.

I can easily imagine the brief: “How can we communicate with younger consumers?” Givaudan makes the same mistake as several other brands: An application that makes you neither fantasise nor understand the world is one that is doomed to failure…


Michel Gutsatz, Advisor, The Scriptorium Company


This article was originally published on BrandWatch

Michel Gutsatz is part of The Scriptorium Company, a brand strategy agency with clients that encompass investment funds, luxury brands, mass brands and distributors. Prior to that Michel was managing director at White Spirit, an image strategy agency, specialising in the design of logos, packaging, brochures and merchandising items consistent with brand strategy recommendations. At the Bally Group, Michel redeveloped the HR function and redesigned the Bally in-store service strategy. He also created the MBA in International Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC business school, through partnerships with L’Oréal, LVMH, The Estée Lauder Companies, Cartier, Montblanc, Escada, Ermenegildo Zegna and others.