Returning guests feel like they are coming back home without being able to say why. It is fascinating to help customers feel better after a long journey, in a soft invisible way.

Elise Balzac, Maison Balzac Founder

Founder of Maison Balzac, Elise Balzac shares her knowledge on the most prominent sense of all: The point of difference your business needs today.

Awakening the memory like no other, our sense of smell is a powerful brand trigger; conjuring feelings, fantasises and the essence of home, luxury, self-love and more.

Elise Balzac speaks to the power of perfume in-salon. In an age where custom is king, is it is time we all considered a scent to our name?

TJ: You’re currently in France. Is this a business or leisure trip?

EB: We split our life between France and Australia, business and family, summer and winter – we feel so lucky.

TJ: Why in your opinion is our sense of smell one of the most powerful senses when it comes to emotions and also, as it impacts behaviour such as purchase intent?

EB: I believe that all senses create our library of emotions. All our souvenirs are linked to either a taste, sound, smell, texture or an image. Having access to any of these makes us instantly go back to that moment; it’s pure magic! The sense of smell particularly interests me because I was surrounded by beautiful scents as a child and teenager. My mother and grandmother had a perfumery/beauty shop, and I was always tinkering away in the wild, smelling flowers, soil, salty air, sand and food. I believe that when a brand manages to trigger an existing memory or create a new one for you, then you are linked for life.

TJ: Every Maison Balzac scent is as alluring as the next. Explain briefly your ‘design’ process when considering and then creating a new scent. Your key considerations and non-negotiables.

EB: The idea of Maison Balzac was born from childhood nostalgia and the south of France where I grew up. Every scent needs to recreate a specific moment there that I loved. My brief to our perfumer, Rebecca, is always a personal story. When I smell her samples, there is no right or wrong. All that matters is, is it as close to my memory as possible? If it gives me goosebumps, then we add it to the collection! Goosebumps are my physical answer to the overall abstract process of perfumery.

TJ: We’re living in a world where custom is king. Why should a small business – from a fashion boutique to hair salon – consider integrating a unique scent into their brand story, and what are some ways this can be beautifully achieved?

EB: Every business (big or small) has got an identity that they nurture. One of the many ways to give life to this identity is to create a unique scent. It gives a personal dimension that really resonates with the heart of the customers, not just their eyes. We have developed unique perfumes for boutique hotels that are diffused through the air conditioning of the foyer. Returning guests feel like they are returning home without being able to say why. It is fascinating to help customers feel better after a long journey, in a soft invisible way.

TJ: In particular, how can a hair salon work with scent to elevate the customer experience and promote deeper brand connection – from consultation to the basin and finally at check out?

EB: To me, the hair salon experience is like being in a personal bubble. It’s a luxury to find the time to be looked after. This short, special cocooning needs to provide comfort for the being, not just the hair! Being surrounded by specific smells is entirely part of that process. So many times I close my eyes with happiness as soon as the shampoo perfume lingers around me. The simple fact of walking in a salon and being embraced by the many different scents is an experience, and says a lot about the identity of the place. Drinking a fragrant tea and leaving smelling different (to when the client walked in) are also ways to promote the brand and connect deeply with every customer.

TJ: What’s next for Maison Balzac, any new products or collaborations coming up?

EB: Where to start! We are adding different categories, more perfumed objects and have even developed some marble pieces made by hand in the south of France. Ultimately continuing the story of my childhood and having fun along the way.

TJ: What fragrance do you burn in your home environment – what’s your ultimate Maison Balzac scent and why?

EB: There is one scent that I cannot get enough of: it is SAINTE T, created with Doctor Cooper. It is the smell of a thousand cut flowers. So addictive! My ultimate scent is the one of my daughter Loulou (after she had a hot bath infused with rose garden petals). I could eat this smell!