The fragrance industry goes digital

Though you may not think the fragrance industry has much room to innovate – after all, you can’t smell scents through a computer screen or device (well, at least not yet) – major beauty brands are tapping into high-tech advancements and Web3 adventures to improve the shopping experience and reach new customers.


L’Oréal, which owns YSL Beaute, joined forces with bioinformatics company Emotiv on a high-tech headset device that helps consumers discover their ideal scent – without having to sniff 500 different formulas themselves. Expected to launch in YSL flagship stores at the end of 2022, the multi-sensor headset utilizes EEG, or “electroencephalography,” a technology that non-invasively measures electrical activity in the form of brain waves on the scalp. The headset also incorporates machine learning algorithms to interpret EEG. While wearing the headset, customers are then supposed to smell fragrances from proprietary “scent families,” and the device will monitor things like behavior, preference, stress, and attention to recommend specific YSL fragrances.


By now, you’re surely familiar with virtual clothing…but what about virtual fragrance? Luxury fragrance house Byredo partnered with RTFKT Studios, the NFT startup recently acquired by Nike, to create “the perfume of the future in Web3.” The series, called Alphameta, will live entirely on the blockchain – at least for now. Users will be able to create their own signature scent, with up to 2,000 custom scent combinations using “digital emotion NFT” ingredients. The custom “bottles” will come with numbered NFT-connected NFC tags that denote the bottle as a digital collectible, and the team says the potions will eventually be used to create IRL bottles of personalized perfume.


Yet another metaverse-fragrance crossover, Givenchy Parfums launched a virtual universe on Roblox, marking the first immersive beauty experience to go live on the metaverse platform. Unlike Byredo’s scent-forward Web3 strategy, Givenchy Parfums’ experience is less about selling fragrances and more about brand-building among a new audience (Roblox’s largest demo is between the ages of 9 and 12, a cohort that’s likely not familiar with the luxury fragrance space). Created in partnership with Swedish developer studio The Gang, the beauty brand’s magic kingdom allows users to explore the fanciful Givenchy Castle, inspired by the late founder Hubert de Givenchy; several of the spaces – including the “Irresistible dance floor” and the “L’Interdit forbidden station” – are inspired by Givenchy's flagship fragrances.