British luxury bath, beauty and fragrance brand Molton Brown entered India in June in partnership with Berkeley Beauty Brands. In just over six months, the brand is thinking about its expansion plans in the country.

“India has huge potential for us. We are looking to expand here through the direct and omni-channel route and will be scouting for partners in the luxury retail space and hospitality industry," said Mark Hermann, global vice-president, sales and operations, during a recent visit to India. He was accompanied by global president Mark Johnson and master perfumer Carla Chabert who spoke to Lounge about industry trends, plans for India and why it’s a great time to be in the fragrance business. Edited excerpts:

What have you learnt about the Indian market in the last few months?

MH: Despite being a global brand, we have been relatively small outside the US and UK markets. When we decided to assess globally where the biggest growth was happening in terms of the luxury industry, India came up very high on that list.

Luckily a partnership also came together quickly and we opened the first flagship store in Delhi at the DLF Emporio mall. So far, the brand is well received. But the fragrances that people like here are a little different from the markets in the UK or the US.

Why is there a difference?

MH: I think that is because of a difference in palate. We bring all our fragrances to all the markets but some are liked better in one place than the others. Oudh and Russian Leather are two fragrances really liked here.

CC: It is also about culture. The Indian market is attracted towards stronger fragrances and strong woody, spicy notes. Older customers, above 40-45, prefer traditional flavours like oudh, sandalwood and rose. But new customers are all about global fragrances like orange and bergamot.

MJ: In India, fragrance is very much a lifestyle ritual. In our traditional markets you have to make people understand what a lifestyle sensorial experience is. It isn’t just about the eau de parfum or the eau de toilette. Markets like India truly understand perfumes and have made them a part of their lifestyle.

What are some of the biggest trends and myths in the industry?

MJ: Trend-wise, this is the most exciting time to be in the fragrance business. I compare the industry right now with something like the food movement seven-eight years ago when people were not cooking just to eat but experimenting with textures, flavours and cuisines, understanding food. We are in the same space with fragrances right now.

The biggest myth is that people think a fragrance “for men" can only be worn by men.

What are your plans for India?

MH: We want to create the right experience and we want to grow with the market. We’ve been waiting a little bit with India for the right marketplace and the right shopping environment and now is a good time. We also want to start the online business here by the next year.

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