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Accelerating Growth Sustainable Luxury

In the past 10 years sustainability influencers have deeply reformulated the notion of luxury. Redefining luxury in the context of a increasingly complex world suggests that if what is rare is precious, nature, water, silence or space are becoming luxury and should be treated as such. As a sustainability thought leader, Firmenich teams are constantly challenging their knowledge to offer tailored made concepts to its clients whose brands are reinventing every day luxury for billions of people globally.


Sustainable luxury, or positive luxury, emerged 10 years ago with the WWF report, “Deeper Luxury”, by Jem Bendell and Anthony Kleanthous. The report said, “Consumers’ increasing concerns with environmental and social problems are the greatest cultural shift of the 21st century”, and explained how brands must behave to stay aspirational. Since then, many luxury niche brands with sustainability values have emerged in fashion, leisure and lifestyle. Sustainable luxury consumers now fully expect the fine fragrance industry to fulfill their desire for unique, meaningful products with positive social and environmental impacts.

As a sustainability thought leader in the flavor and fragrance industry, Firmenich has been deeply engaged with experts and customers to discuss trends and opportunities. Further to exchanging with customers, experts and think tanks, Firmenich clarified the codes of sustainable luxury, called “Desirable Sustainability”. They include:

  • Authenticity and traceability
  • Local heritage
  • Timelessness
  • Nature as inspiration
  • Innovation
  • Respect of ancestral know-how and craftsmanship
  • Rare materials
  • Emotion
  • Well-being
  • Unique sensorial experiences

  • The word “luxury” evokes different things to different people whether it’s clients in New York, suppliers in Brazil or students in Geneva. However, despite different views, it is based on three fundamental aspects:

  • Connection with nature and natural ingredients
  • Respect and transmission of traditional know-how
  • Experience of sensorial emotions

  • In a very urban and unstable world, luxury becomes more intangible. It becomes an emotion linked to silence, peace of mind, a connection with oneself and with loved ones, a sense of reconnection with nature and wellbeing.

    The codes of new luxury can be applied to all products’ categories from fine fragrance to home care body care to food and beverage. It suggests that a product that creates happiness through a connection with nature can be positioned as a premium product that will inspire consumers. Nobody owns natural luxury, one merely looks after it for the next generation. The same values are true for Firmenich. As a family company we are driven by care and transmission to the next generation. That’s the reason why we are leaders in sustainability. Positive luxury is driven by the imperatives of environmental and social sustainability including: traceability, respect for growers and producers, using water with care, using land with care, being good for your health. Fragrances and flavors are invisible but they can be the immaterial luxury insides food and beverage or perfume brands making positive luxury the new normal.


    Understanding where the world of fashion and design is going is a must have for our company and that is the region why we started collaborating this year with the new Paris School of Luxury as well as the Geneva HEAD masters in Luxury. In both school the challenging views of the Y generation on luxury is an inspiration to help us understand their expectations and requirement to invent new positive luxury and also to make sure classical luxury will remain relevant in the future.

    Our conceptual and strategic work on positive luxury is obviously very much linked to our Sustainable Lifestyles work and follows a similar logic based on knowledge sharing and collaboration towards innovation and inspiration for our teams and our clients. In this context, sustainability becomes a source of creativity for our colleagues and an inspiration for all our clients.

    Our goal is to be change agents and transform the perception of sustainability requirements that can sometimes be perceived as limiting or constraining. On the contrary we are saying to our colleagues and partners that if nature is luxury, and valued as such, we can use our codes of creation with the power of our researchers to deliver positive luxury across all our categories with different interpretations.

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