For years, the perfume industry has been striving to find a recipe for success. Being unable to predict whether this or that perfume will find a clientele, brands indulge in a succession of global launches with budgets worth tens of millions of dollars. They hope that when success comes, the sales of that particular perfume will cover its previous failures. They have polished this model by adding 'flankers' to the successful fragrance – allowing them to extend the market life and success of the perfume in question. Whenever the topic comes up in my discussions with professionals, they admit that they still have not found the recipe for success in perfumery.
To me, the answer seems simple – a careful reflection on the conditions of success. These relate mainly to the mindset of the teams involved in a project. Two examples clearly illustrate this:
Angela Ahrendts, the head of Burberry, has just posted a fascinating text on LinkedIn ('Reflections on the Wisdom of Teams'). It begins with a quote from Gary Hamel: "In business as in life, the difference between ‘insipid’ and ‘inspired’ is passion. With mediocrity fast becoming a competitive liability, success depends on new ways to rouse the human spirit at work". She explains that fashion shows were traditionally the exclusive domain of the creative team - and reserved for a handpicked elite. Burberry's decision to make them world events using social media (which earned the brand top place in all digital rankings) had significant consequences in terms of internal organization. In fact, the success of this event mobilizes the company’s teams transversally: creation, marketing, legal, digital, IT, customer service - and now the sales department, for Burberry sells 'live' some of the articles shown during the parade. It is a teamwork that matches the scale of the brand - work that is executed, according to her, with passion. "Truly epitomizing our ‘creative thinking culture’, our teams come together to blend product and innovation, art and science, emotion and intellect, intuition and experience to push boundaries and make their collective dreams a reality”.
A few years ago, a friend gave me her explanation of success in perfumery. Having participating in several teams created for such projects, she observed one constant: All the teams that worked in synergy, or even in fusion, led to success. She cited, for example, Trésor from Lancôme - a team composed exclusively of women (many of them pregnant!) who lived this project as a truly fusional experience. On the contrary, whenever there were dissensions or unresolved conflicts within the team, the perfume turned out to be a failure.
These two examples show clearly that having faith in teamwork, while giving them the means to share a common passion about a brand or a new project, is a necessary condition for success. As Angela Ahrendts says: "shared passion can unite and align all teams, in any organization”.