Oh dear, that's very safe
Bois de jasmin recently blogged about new flavour and fragrance trends that she found somewhere. She said that green tea, peach and citrus are likely to be the most popular notes in the seasons to come.
But where did this information come from? Was it mere guesswork to say that popular - and safe - notes are going to be popular for some time to come? - You don’t need a crystal ball to make that kind of prediction.
Or did somebody put out feelers on the grapevine to find out what flavourists and perfumers are composing right now. Did they ring around to ask what molecules are being ordered for delivery in six months time? Obviously there’s more to it than that. But I think there’s a predictable narrative going on behind the scenes, and I imagine it goes something like this...
Lets look at cherry. Cherry is a nice taste, people like cherries. One day, somebody had the bright idea of adding cherry flavour to their cola. People could now taste cherries all year round if they wanted to, not just a few weeks in the summer.
This obviously seemed like a good idea to the big wigs, and so the cola people ordered some cherry flavour to make trial batches and they tested them on consumers. As the drink went through the development process and into production the orders for cherry flavour molecules got larger, much larger. The molecules were now being produced in huge quantities and they became cheaper to make, and so cheaper to buy.
The cheapness of the cherry molecules made them more attractive to perfume producers, and they started to use cherry in their perfumes. People drank the cola, and bought the perfumes and wore them, thus diffusing the note around them as they went. Other people became familiar with the cherry aroma, and were conditioned to smelling it, as well as tasting it, and the note of cherry became normalised across product areas. Cough mixtures and the like would be another application.
Because many people want to be normal, and they want to fit in, they bought into the perfume, the drink, or whatever, and they had no problem with it because they already knew the aroma - and they knew they liked it.
It's a low risk strategy; for the seller, and for the consumer. And so it goes, round and round; a note is tried - and it catches on because people like it. More and more people are exposed to the note, and because it’s nice they buy into it too, further propagating the note ... until some more adventurous people get fed up with it and look for something new.
And then finally, that rare event happens when somebody creates something new that grabs your imagination.
And as this new thing catches on, the whole process begins all over again. See the switch from 80’s powerhouse tuberoses to Cool Water and cK One - and their clones in the 90’s; it’s the same process at work.
So, after a flash of insight, and a lot of hard work, a snowball is set in motion that can be unstoppable - until it reaches the bottom of the hill and lumbers to a halt.
As well as good old citrus, and green tea (which uses blueberry, lemon and apple notes according to one entry on Good Scents) I have recently spotted an advert for cherry flavor dietary supplements and a peach drink in a plastic can. The applications may be new, but the aromas are not.
Who doesn’t like fruit? Fruity is a safe choice, both creatively and from a business perspective. What it doesn’t do is give the consumer any real choice : we get what we want because, by and large, we want what we get – ie, the same old safe choices.