MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Afternoon with Firmenich

By Katerina Lin, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2013-2014, Taiwan/Canada

ESSEC’s MBA in International Luxury Brand Management Class of 2014 had the pleasure of visiting Firmenich’s Development Center in Neuilly-sur Seine, just outside of Paris, on the afternoon of January 24th, 2014. Founded in 1895 and officially established in 1934, Firmenich is a private, family-owned company led by CEO Patrick Firmenich. Based in Geneva, it has grown to become the largest fragrance and flavors company in the industry. It currently has 6000+ employees with operations spanning across 64 countries. Firmenich has 3 divisions including Fragrance, Flavours and Ingredients.  The Fragrance Division includes Fine Fragrance, Body Care, and Home Care.  10% of its turnover is invested in R&D every year for new natural materials and molecules to be developed and included in the company’s product portfolio.

The class was first greeted by Solène Davy, Head of Communication Fine Fragrance, who introduced the company and its structure and functions. As a major fragrance house and fragrance manufacturer, Firmenich recognizes the market’s needs and that the soul of perfume is in the emotions it creates. As part of a unified company vision, Firmenich practices integrated performance management coaching to help the development of its human resources.

The class also attended a powerful and influential presentation from Bérangère Magarinos-Ruchat, the VP of Sustainability Partnerships, on Firmenich’s sustainable initiatives and the company’s dedication to sustainable growth and international innovation. The corporation recognizes that its core business function – perfume – is inspired by nature, and that it has a responsibility to society. Combined with the global movement and increasing awareness of “green” living, it is a logical progression for Firmenich to emphasize sustainability. Firmenich follows the “3Gs”: Governance, Green, Growth. It encourages its clients to develop green products and projects that make a difference, that are good for people’s health and the environment, and that give the client a competitive edge. Luxury is about timelessness, authenticity, and sustainability; with an extensive luxury brand client portfolio.

We also met Amélie Genet, VP of Sales in Fine Fragrance, and Séverine Cardot-Dallet, the Fragrence Development Manager, who presented the Sales & Marketing side of the business, including operations, day-to-day functions, and interactions with clients and product development teams domestically and abroad. Daphné Bugey, a Perfumer, also discussed how a scent is developed through emotions and memories. The process of developing a scent is highly individualistic; each perfumer interprets a marketing brief or a scent concept in his or her own way, resulting in the individuality of each scent. The class then visited an intriguing concept room for the latest marketing project, where creative ideas, scents, smells, sounds, tastes, and images are brought together to generate the emotions and memories that recall the marketing concept.  This marketing experience was presented by Anne-Sophie Schmitt, Marketing Manager Fine Fragrance.

The visit wrapped up with a tour of the laboratories by Philippe Chauvel, the Application and Technical Development Manager, who introduced the complex functions and flows of the laboratories, the types of research carried out by each division and department, the storage and preservation methods for samples and raw materials, and the rewarding outcome and various final products, including a myriad of award-winning luxury fragrances.

The Luxe Class of 2014 greatly enjoyed learning about the Firmenich corporation, witnessing the inner workings of perfumery in association with luxury brands, indulging in the unforgettable smells and emotions triggered throughout the visit (including the bathroom that was charged with the smells of flower fields and happiness-triggering scents) and experiencing the authentic and influential presentations of the Firmenich experts.