If something is creative, will it always be innovative? If it is innovative, is it also creative? At Givaudan, the two go hand-in-hand. From exquisite fine fragrances to functional products and exciting new ingredients, our technical innovations are catalysing the future of fragrance creation.
Innovation is embodied in Givaudan culture: across the company, everyone innovates, from our partners in the far reaches of our supply chain to the intimate world of the artisan perfumer. The purpose of this philosophy is two-fold: to enable efficiency and to catalyse creativity. Yes, the world of fragrance is highly creative, but it remains founded on science and technology. This is what helps us to surprise and delight.
Modern fragrances must ‘cheat nature’
With a desire to surround ourselves in scent as we become more sense-savvy and like to fragrance our homes, our clothes and ourselves, perfume ‘performance’ is a key requirement. Long-lasting character and an ability for the odour to keep re-activating throughout the product lifecycle increasingly affects product choices.
However, in everyday products – a fabric softener for example – this can be quite a challenge; any scent tipped into the vast vat of water that is a washing machine would normally be quickly diluted, even washed away. It is up to Givaudan’s innovation scientists and perfumers to work to overcome this.
Our consumer products fragrances must ‘cheat’ Mother Nature by delivering scents in environments where normally it shouldn’t be possible. In the washing machine, we can make a scent cling on, despite the large amounts of water and the delicate nature of perfume. We can ensure this scent will be present on the wet clothes, and reappear when they are dry, folded and even worn. These delightful ‘moments of truth’ help us fall in love with the fragrance. We go beyond simply liking; if the perfume is right and appears ‘on time’, it will communicate more than a smell, it will make a statement about cleanliness or caring that complements our perception of the product.
Encapsulation rewrites the rules of perfumery
We achieve these truth moments through a process of encapsulation. This technique protects the perfume oil, encasing it in a type of ‘shell’ – either polymer or starch – thus allowing perfumers to design a better scent experience and scientists to deliver an all-essential fragrance experience at precisely the right moment. Free fragrance oils cannot achieve the same results, and this is where technology has rewritten the rules of perfumery.
Exploring new benefits of fragrances
Just as we now want to smell ‘more’ of our fragranced products, we also want them to do more, too.
Our sense of smell is managed through transduction – a sensory process that converts the smell, light, sound or texture signals from around us into electrical ones. These combine with chemical neurotransmitters to form the essence of how our brain thinks, feels and behaves at every moment of the day and night.
The olfactory system connects to many other parts of the brain so forms a kind of ‘super-highway’ to memories or emotion. Scientists are increasingly aware of ways that human senses can be harnessed to improve feelings of well-being; fragrance holds unique advantages in this field, because these physical benefits are provided in a non-intrusive way.
Imagine delivering these benefits gently, such as via an air freshener, to manage the way you feel!
Givaudan’s science and technology teams pay attention to academic studies on olfactive science, whilst monitoring what consumers think, too. The science of smell, despite being extensively researched by the academic community, is still a new domain. We advance our own research by measuring not just if people ‘like’ fragrances or have an emotional reaction or memory trigger, but if they genuinely experience a change in behaviour, such as feeling more alert or relaxed.
The journey to a new fragrance molecule
Givaudan’s teams of discovery scientists have the challenging job of finding the next ‘big thing’ to hit perfumery: despite being inspired by nature, it is often fragrance chemists that drive the next trend; from the discovery that aldehydes make floral notes pack a punch, to the fashion for marine notes and ‘floral eaux’, to building a sustainable future, synthetic aromachemicals have a vital role to play. But finding them is just the start of a long journey that will involve perfumers, chemical engineers, fragrance evaluators, environmentalists, regulatory experts and toxicologists to ensure that any new ingredient does more than just smell good – it can be safely used and enjoyed.
Bioassays speed up innovation
Bioassays quickly test new molecules for sensitivity or biodegradation and, thanks to our award-winning KeratinoSens® assay, we can now rapidly assess the relationship between molecule structure and skin sensitivity, rapidly speeding up our innovation. Other internal bioassays at Givaudan identify molecules for their safety, and this makes it easier to select, test and benchmark new designs. Knowing the safety profile of a molecule helps guide chemists through the vast maze of possibilities, helping them determine which molecules can be used, and which cannot. As we build our knowledge over time, this process will become even quicker: we’ll be able to draw correlations between different molecules, and have data on sensitisation and potential regulatory requirements right under our nose.
Science and technology supports sustainability
Ensuring that our perfumers have the very best possible palette to work from and that fragrance can be enjoyed in all sorts of products under any circumstance, whether it be in a prestige perfume or a laundry bar of soap, is our passion.
As we work towards these cutting edge technologies, we must also ensure that sustainability requirements are met. In almost all cases, when processes are made more efficient, economic and environmental savings arise naturally. Carbon efficiency, removing waste and reducing overall energy input all helps to move the needle to improve our sustainability profile.
That’s creative innovation at work.