Melodie Mystery™ is WestRock's latest addition to the Empotions of Spray Collection, designed to offer perfect dispensing as well as an attractive silhouette. Speaking with Sandy Gregory, WestRock's Associate Marketing Director for Global Fragrance & EU Beauty, we learned just how far the company goes to ensure brands can offer their consumers the perfect product usage experience.
How has WestRock been doing of late with regard to providing fragrance brands with dispensers?
There have been many changes over the years in the fragrance industry, but one clear thing about the sector is that it has always focused on aesthetics, the look of the brand, conveying its value proposition through visual impact. In 2005, we launched a new generation of pumps. They were low profile items with the functional parts hidden in the neck so that the dispenser didn't have a negative impact on the overall aesthetics. Melodie® was one such pump, and it became an instant star in the fragrance sector, adopted by such major brands as Chanel, Puig, Mont Blanc, and others. We've penetrated into LVMH over the last couple of years, in fact, and have worked on projects for such brands as Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy, and Kenzo. My point is that the market appreciation of Melodie has been just amazing.
Why was the response so overwhelmingly positive?
We did something that nobody else had done. We shifted away from solely focusing on the aesthetics or on the mechanism. Westrock's innovation strategy was to ask consumers to focus on the experience of using the spray and tell us how they felt about it. The feedback was amazing, the reactions we received from actual consumers was just astounding. We learned answers to questions we hadn't even thought to ask, the sheer amount of data we got was vast.
What sorts of things did WestRock learn?
We learned about genuine, consumer-oriented pain points that nobody had previously known existed. We learned what consumers considered good and bad sprayers, but beyond that, we learned that there were general preferences shared by a number of groups, broken down by sex or by age. We asked them to try different sprays and we could clearly detect that when each consumer found what they considered the right spray for them, an emotional connection was made. That's when we took all of the data we had compiled and based on it, created the Emotions of Spray Collection.
What was the purpose of the Emotions of Spray Collection?
We wanted to provide fragrance companies with dispensing options based not only aesthetic appeal, but direct emotional appeal. Emotions of Spray linked a wide variety of our dispensers to emotional responses and eliminated pain points. We could approach our customers or prospective customers and offer them dispensers that not only looked attractive and could enhance their brand, they would also be able to appeal to their target consumers, based on the needs and desires of those demographic groupings. Melodie Forever™, for example, is one of our long and exuberant sprayers, and we learned it was especially indicated for women, they loved the broad dispensing and the ritual feel to it. Melodie Agile™, on the other hand, is a smaller and more focused sprayer, and we learned it was generally more appealing to men. They appreciated the fact that it was direct, more task-based. The point is that the spray is an intrinsic and important part of the overall packaging. By matching the right spray with the right target, brands can create a more luxurious perception. That drives brand loyalty and creates a more solid link with the brand. With all that in mind, we launched the Emotions of Spray Collection and it created a furor among brands.
It created a new paradigm, then?
Yes, in a sense. Aesthetics are still important, obviously, but we added another dimension to the development process. That allowed WestRock to penetrate new accounts and offer existing customers new concepts. Our initial Emotions of Spray Collection gathered six sprayers, and all of them are currently being used by brand owners. Everyone in the industry agrees, there's no turning back, you're not going to see just one just one spray for all in the luxury/prestige market any more.
What about Melodie Mystery? Is that the latest addition to the collection?
We continually strive to offer new products that provide more nuances to match the positioning of fragrances. We'll be launching Melodie Mystery at Luxe Pack Monaco. It's a long, sensual, fine spray. It's magical. Melodie Mystery maintains the magical and sensual aura but it's more focused and targeted. It doesn't dispense all over the place, it's more narrow and more likely to hit your body. It offers a nuance to the Melodie line. You have to understand, the ones that ultimately select the correct dispenser for their product are the brand owners. We show them the samples and offer them our research findings and they can select which dispensers are most relevant. A fragrance is a story - love, romance, success, nostalgia, sex - they're all stories to be told with fragrances, and the sprayer selection must adapt to that story. The overall look of the packaging, point of sale materials, advertising, and other factors are all part of that story. We're saying the sprayer is a part of that. That's why we keep releasing more options, like Melodie Mystery, so that our customers can find the perfect match.
Have reactions been positive thus far?
Opinions are, thus far, good. Most brand owners do not perform research on sprayers so we share our data with them in order to create lasting partnerships. What we're seeing is that brands and WestRock are developing stronger bonds. We bring a level of expertise to the table they do not have. We give them information that allows them to strengthen customer loyalty and increase repeat purchase. We have experts in market research that are available for meetings with brands to take them through the research results. We're moving in to brand analysis to show our customers what's around them and getting back to them to discuss their consumer profiles. In that sense, we're becoming a consulting firm rather than a simple packaging manufacturer or fulfilment company. We work hard to analyze their products and their customers, so we can create designs that will add value.
I'm curious as to how WestRock sees dispensing. How are the sprayers different from each other?
Well, let's take Melody Forever, for example. That sprayer is geared toward young females. Melody Forever is about sensuality, about pampering, a moment of abstraction. It's tied to concepts like "fantasy". It sprays a diffuse cloud of product into the air, it creates a fanciful moment and place. Older women tend to be more practical, more reality-based and are more concerned about the product and using it sparingly. Young sporty men also liked Melodie Forever, but again, they preferred more dynamic, sporty sprays. To more mature men, it was more sophisticated, less powerful, so they preferred Melody Agile. Sure, men liked Melody Forever, but not as much as others like Melodie Agile. You have to be careful not to judge with brands.
Would you say the volume of the dispensing is a key differentiating feature, then?
Yes, but there are others, such as the fact that sprayers have different sounds. Some are sonorous, some are more quiet, like Melodie Delicate. Sound is also a part of the experience. Whether the overcap clacks or snaps when you replace it, whether it's more discrete, the sound of the actuation, the sound of the product evacuating, the response on the actuation stroke - these are all subliminal things that have been researched and done on purpose. Using a fragrance is not about features, it's about dreams. If there's one thing we want to convey it's that perfection is in the details.
Are WestRock's dispensers exclusive to the luxury market?
In the fragrance market, there's a big race to differentiate. Brands will go to great lengths to get the right mix, including the correct dispenser. Tailored sprays are a new era in luxury fragrance packaging. I believe this will eventually become the standard in any segment of the market as a must-have feature.