Picture of Jon Hackett

Jon Hackett

Jon is co-founder & CEO of h2\. He works at the intersection of marketing, economics and consumer research, where he specializes in strategic marketing, pricing, and new business ventures


Partner at h2\, Isabelle leads the Consumer insights and Semiotics department. She explores the cultural representations behind brand identities and consumer’s logics.

Fine fragrance in the era of women’s empowerment

How can you stretch your brand without going the wrong way ?

Women’s fragrance brands face important issues and tensions concerning femininity, its values and representations; and more specifically, luxury brands have to navigate between leaning on the classic fundamentals of fragrance brands (idealization, timeless storytelling) and integrating part of the societal gender mutations in order to seduce a new generation of female consumers.

H2 accompanied a French luxury brand in the strategic thinking on one of its flagship franchises. The objective was to determine different relevant evolution axes to support the next launch, with a key question to solve: to remain faithful to the original territory of the brand rather conservative or to switch to a more progressive discourse?

The brand stretching methodology developed by H2 answers this type of request by superimposing 3 maps :

First, we conducted a semiotic audit of the current territory of the franchise in its competitive universe. The semiotic approach allowed us 1) to analyze in depth the current expression and values of the brand, to identify to which cultural values they are connected or could be connected 2) to situate the brand on its market in relation to its competitors, to the dynamics of brands evolution, and to the whitespace to be occupied. At this stage, we have already been able to define and describe the evolution paths that are both coherent with the brand and relevant to the market in terms of parity and differentiation.

In a second phase, we conducted a qualitative study with a small sample of women who were very involved in the universe with two age targets and different levels of brand proximity (fans, lapsed, non-users). We were able to understand which were the most aspirational current or potential territories for each target.

The 3rd phase of the study was an evaluation by the same respondents of 3 olfactory tracks developed for the franchise. Each track was decoded in terms of imagination and values and positioned on the mapping according to its coherence and its interest for the targets.

At the end of the process, we were able to give a clear recommendation for the next step of the franchise and understand to what extent the brand should integrate the new societal situation in the representation of femininity.


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