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Project: Fragrance Retail Strategy & Product Innovation

Location: Continental U.S. 

My Role: Innovation Consultant at Fahrenheit 212

Duration: 5 months (for research, strategy and product concepts)

Scope: ​

  • Discovery & User Research

  • CX/Retail Experience Strategy & Design

  • Product Design & Innovation


The Challenge

  • In response to declining sales due to new brands/formats, e-commerce price competition and a lackluster purchasing experience, a beauty industry giant sought to reimagine how their fragrance portfolio could be sold—and sought-after—in 4 major FDM (food, drug, mass) retailers, including CVS and Target. Nothing—packaging, distribution model, merchandising approach—was off-limits.​

  • Our research questions emerged:

    • What is the role of fragrance in a user's life?

    • How do users engage with fragrance on a daily basis? How is this changing?

    • What drives fragrance purchases?

    • What micro-decisions are users facing when selecting and purchasing a fragrance?

The Research


  • Working with the firm's Research Director, our team (leading an Associate, Analyst and Intern) launched a multi-pronged research scope to explore both the path to purchase and the product itself. This included:

    • Service safari, exploring sensorial display and product interaction, plus retail best practices

    • Expert interviews​

    • Mobile "over the shoulder" ethnography, exploring the path to purchase

    • Online diary study

    • Beauty Blogger fireside Q&A with fans // Co-Creation exercise

    • Product format exploration

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  • In our research synthesis, we distilled learnings into 10 key insights around scent usage and the barriers to both fragrance selection and the physical transaction in our stores.

  • We learned that with product locked behind glass doors (to prevent theft), consumers felt like thieves. We also learned that without a shared language around fragrance between the industry and consumer, users feel insecure in interpreting scent and making an informed purchase. 

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  • We also identified our main user personas, balancing their needs as we approached design:

    • A Millennial aspirational buyer, with a purchasing behaviors not supported by our retail experiences, and

    • A Legacy user, who is brand-loyal, sometimes over decades, and less interested in new or novel products or experiences.

  • We then further explored the communication breakdown that occurs and how our design solutions might solve for it.

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The Design

  • Focused on an in-store experience that inspires curiosity, guides understanding and motivates engagement with product, we designed twelve concepts. Higher-fidelity prototypes, including the concept below focused on our communication-breakdown insight (above), were created by the internal design team.

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The Outcomes


  • Four solution concepts, including the above, were tested with consumers and retail partners in a qualitative evaluation exercise to explore relevance, uniqueness and appeal.  Market testing of two concepts, entering 10% and 2% of retail doors respectively, is underway.

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