Hindered by COVID-19, customers are cooped up and seek brand engagement while brands get creative to reach customers and offer entertaining and immersive experiences. Fragrance and flavor support the experience economy and add olfactive dimensions to create memorable events. Trendincite LLC is enthusiastic about researching immersive experiences and multi-sensory products, which use fragrance and flavor. This topic has been addressed through multiple articles: Interactive Experiences, Olfactive Innovation, Alternative Scent Applications, Sensational Technology Continues, High-Tech Sensory Concepts, Sensory Sensations, Multi-Sensory Experiences, Multi-Sensorial Products – You Fill Up My Senses, and Multi-Sensory Technology – Sensory Overload.
Fragrance has the ability to transport consumers and science has demonstrated that smells trigger vivid memories and emotions. Brands are innovating with new fragrance and flavor creations that are sensorially stimulating and create memorable experiences.
For Halloween, Skittles created a limited-edition Zombie Skittles costume, which was 6 foot wide and had a “Zombie Mode” hidden button on the wrist and when activated the costume released a rotten zombie smell. Thanks to COVID-19, mask wearing is the new norm. Brands have been creative and are launching scented masks to promote their products. Hormel, the bacon company, launched the “Black Label Breathable Bacon” mask that is scented like bacon and uses a two-ply multi-fiber cloth. Similarly, to promote Jack in the Box’s new “Unchicken” plant based sandwich, the brand introduced a fried chicken scented mask. To celebrate the return of the Monster Angus Thickburger, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s released a limited-edition Monster Essence Fragrance Diffuser that features the scent of applewood-smoked bacon and Angus beef. For the holidays, Jimmy Dean launched a Recipe Gift Exchange, and one of the six sausage-themed gifts is sausage-scented wrapping paper. Play-Doh launched Play-Doh for Grown Ups in six humorous scents: Dad Sneakers (rubber), Grill King (smoked meats), Lord of the Lawn (fresh cut grass), Mom Jeans (clean denim), Overpriced Latte (coffee) and Spa Day (floral).
Fashion and fragrance house Puig has launched Ai.lice, a new technology that “enables shoppers to get a sense of the composition of the scent of a perfume, without having to physically smell it or touch the bottle.” Using the Ai.lice technology, customers can scan a QR code on their phone and then point their camera at the fragrance bottle or package. Then the technology shares the fragrance scent family and the main ingredients as well as similar products available in-store that match the consumer’s preferences. Asian and British Penhaligon’s stores are testing this new technology. Fragrance and flavor supplier Firmenich used artificial intelligence (AI) and human creativity to design six laundry care fragrances for Liquid Detergent, Powder Detergent, and Fabric Spray.
Fragrance and flavor supplier Givaudan created VivaScentz
Quick Service Restaurants are capitalizing on customers affinity for candles and are creating fun, engaging candle scents inspired by many of their signature flavors. As part of Dairy Queen’s Fall Blizzard Candle Collection, the brand launched five scents last year. This year, Pumpkin Pie Blizzard and Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough Blizzard candles returned while Brownie Dough Blizzard, Caramel Apple Pie Blizzard, Choco Dipped Strawberry Blizzard, and Oreo Mocha Fudge Blizzard were introduced. Kwik Trip, the Wisconsin-based convenience store brand, partnered with Smith and Co. Candles LLC on a new Elite Day candle reminiscent of the retailer’s car wash tri-foam. The Elite Day scent features notes of soap bubbles, fresh cherries, and a freshly cleaned car. This candle is the second collaboration between the two brands. Prior, Kwik Trip and Smith and Co. Candles released a Glazer Doughnut scented candle inspired by Kwik Trip’s signature sweet. Zaxby’s, the fast casual restaurant chain known for a variety of chicken dishes, introduced Relaxation Packs, which included candles scented like fried chicken and crinkle fries, a citrus vinaigrette bath bomb and a sleep mask. DW Home launched a Thanksgiving Feast candle, which is self-described as “Buttery mashed potatoes and salted gravy join delicious notes of sage stuffing, sweetened with a hint of cranberry sauce.” UK brand Flaming Crap launched the limited-edition candle 2020 Scent, which “features subtle scents of banana bread, hand sanitizer, DIY and wood musks, alongside budget aftershave and an earthy essence, that 2020’s TV icon – Joe Exotic from ‘Tiger King’ would use to attract his next mate.”
Keep on Truckin’
Retailers and brands were hindered by COVID-19 and had to adapt to new marketing platforms to reach consumers and create entertaining experiences. This summer mobile trucks seemed to be the marketing vehicle of choice. In August, Blue Bunny debuted the Ice Screen Truck, which transformed the traditional ice cream truck into a private movie theater with an 11-by-6-foot HD screen and of course ice cream served in one’s driveway. Fans had the chance to win a visit from the Ice Screen Truck, which visited five states including Denver, Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Le Mars, Iowa. Dunkin’ launched the Refreshers RV road trip-inspired giveaway. In conjunction with the brand’s release of Dunkin’ Iced Refreshers beverages, fans had a chance to win a week-long trip in a Dunkin’ decorated RV, unlimited Dunkin’ K-cup pods, and a restaurant gift card. One winner was selected on September 20, 2020. Bumble, the dating app, partnered with Babe Wine by Anheuser-Busch InBev, on a social media initiative “to help cover the moving costs of people stuck living with their ex during the Coronavirus pandemic.” Five winners had the opportunity to win a free move and turn their “breakup into a glow up.” The fragrance and flavor experiences were indirect but the end result involved food and beverages.
In addition to mobile trucks, brands used Drive-Thrus to create immersive fragrance and flavor experiences during COVID-19. Bulrush, a fine dining restaurant in St. Louis, MO, opened a drive-in Park & Dine tasting menu experience. Customers checked in, parked in a lot, and were given a colored flag for service, as well as a link to a Spotify list and a link to a live Zoom call to experience the sights and sounds of the kitchen. Instead of canceling the county fair during the pandemic, the Orange County Fair moved to a Drive-Thru Fair Food Festival in Middletown, NY. From Sept 24–27 and Oct 1–4, 2020, visitors were given a map, a menu, and guided set route of the grounds to experience typical fair food such as fried Oreos, funnel cakes, and candy apples. Hyundai partnered with the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) and The Art of Elysium (AoE), to create DRIVEN: A Latinx Artist Celebration Presented by Hyundai, “an outdoor, drivable and free art experience for Hispanic Heritage Month.” The event took place on October 1-4, 2020 and was held at the Los Angeles Hollywood Palladium Theater. For Halloween, the South Gate Wendy’s restaurant in the Los Angeles staged a “Scare-thru,” where customers used the drive-thru to experience a bubbling cauldron, fog, and ominous lights followed by a dinner party scene hosted by the Mad King as well as an encounter with a creepy clown, scarecrows, and jack-o-lanterns. Although not a drive-thru, Table for Ett, which means “one” in Swedish, is a notable dining experience with only six slots available per month. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Jessamine Starr set up a “one-person, one-table, zero-contact restaurant” offering a five-course dinner on her wooded property. Guests take a 0.3 mile walk in the woods to discover a solo meal enclosed under a glass cover and then at the end of the meal, guests pay what they can.
Fragrance and flavor support the experience economy and enable brands to engage consumers to create immersive and memorable events and experiences. Now more than ever, with limited travel and access to stores and live events, consumers crave interaction. Expect to see more fragrance and flavor innovation including new applications and use of AI technology as well as new methods to reach consumers such as mobile trucks and drive-thrus.