How Axe became a global bestseller and the new G.O.A.T. of male grooming for Generation Z everywhere.
Earlier this year, Axe – – launched its first-ever Fine Fragrance Collection. Formulated with some of the world’s top perfume houses, as well as renowned fragrance developer Ann Gottlieb, the luxury scents neutralise body odour while keeping users smelling fresh. The new range is lighter and more modern than anything Axe has released before, featuring an eclectic set of scent profiles loved by Generation Z guys.
Grooming experts at Men’s Health have already named the collection’s Blue Lavender body spray as one of the , and in Axe’s blind scent tests, 7 out of 10 men said they’d replace the scent of their current cologne with their favourite of the brand’s new fragrances.
The launch redefined the world of luxury scents with a collection that smells as good as the finest fragrances without the high-end price tag.
Axe Global Brand Director Caroline Gregory explains: “We’ve been monitoring the spending habits of our Axe consumers, specifically Gen-Z guys, and we’ve found that shoppers are redefining what premium is.
“For them, premium is not just about high price points and designer names. It’s about quality ingredients and how the products make them feel. While they want high-quality products they can relate to, they also want to feel good without paying an expensive price.”
We spoke to Axe’s very own fragrance expert Noemie Lottiau to find out more about her career, how to become a professional nose and how the Axe Fine Fragrance Collection is elevating an everyday product with premium scents.
Noemie, please tell us about your role as a fragrance expert at Axe.
I am the Fragrance Design Leader globally for Axe (known as Lynx in the UK) deodorants and skin cleansing products – so that covers body sprays, antiperspirants, shower gels and more.
I worked in the perfumery industry before joining Unilever and my role now is to develop fragrances for Axe consumers all over the world. That means understanding the different olfactive preferences in our various markets and ensuring that Axe always offers great fragrances that are both premium and long lasting.
How did you become a fragrance expert?
I have always been passionate about fragrances. When I was a little girl living in the Normandy countryside, I used to love smelling flowers in the garden or breathing in the fresh scent of the forest.
I had a strong attraction to fragrances and as I grew up, I knew I wanted to work in the fragrance industry. To pursue this dream, I studied chemistry for my first bachelor’s degree, then went to the world-famous perfumery school , just outside Paris, to study perfumery ingredients and fragrance creation.
There I learned a lot more about the history and complexities of fragrance, the different notes and layers, and how to identify and describe scents. After ISIPCA, I completed an advanced master’s degree in marketing at the where my thesis covered subjects such as the influence of social media on fragrance loyalty.
So which Axe fragrances have you helped create?
I’ve been working for Axe for the past seven years and in that time I have worked on the new Fine Fragrance Collection as well as fragrances such as Lynx Epic Fresh, Lynx AI, Lynx Magnum and Axe Origins, plus several fragrances for Axe in India and many more to come.
Axe is particularly popular with younger guys so it’s interesting to work on a brand that is often one of the first fragrances people choose to perfume themselves.
What goes into the fragrance creation process for Axe?
It starts with understanding the brief – do we want something unexpected? Something for Gen Z? Something that ties into trending perfumes? We have to understand who our consumers are, the formats we need and what the trends or preferences are in the market we want to reach.
Once we are clear on the approach, narrowing down all the ideas is often a challenge. We usually go through multiple rounds of submissions and sometimes even use digital tools like artificial intelligence to help create unexpected combinations. Eventually we choose one winning fragrance, and then we must test that its qualities and scent are compatible with the end product we want to make.
There are many technicalities to take into consideration. We need to ensure fragrances are stable in specific formats, that they last on skin, that we don’t have discolouration and that they comply with various regulatory requirements.
People often talk about ‘notes’ or ‘layers’ in fragrance. What does this mean?
A note can be translated as the scent of a particular perfume ingredient. We also talk about top, middle and base notes.
Top notes are the most volatile, giving the first impression of a fragrance. The zesty freshness of citrus notes would be an example of this. Middle notes are the heart of the fragrance, and these are typically floral or fruity.
And base notes, such as woody, amber, gourmand or musky notes, are the least volatile. These provide what we call in the fragrance world the sillage – the longer lasting signature or imprint of a fragrance. Axe is not only a deodorant but it is also used as a day-to-day fragrance, so how fragrance ingredients wear over time is extremely important for our products.
What was the inspiration for the Axe Fine Fragrance Collection?
As the leading men’s grooming brand for 40 years, Axe is always evolving to meet our consumers’ needs. We’ve found that more and more Gen Z guys care about their scent, with 80% actively worrying about their odour. For this reason, fragrance plays a pivotal role in making them feel more confident.
In a study we recently conducted in the US, we found that 80% of Gen Z guys use fragrances every day, and they’re often spending $75+ to do so. In fact the No.1 reason they choose a grooming product is because it smells good and they feel it’ll make them more attractive.
It’s important to them to feel premium, and they’re spending a lot of money to achieve that. For this launch we worked with some incredible master perfumers and really applied the art of perfumery to create a premium collection that I think is the best-smelling Axe range so far.
The Fine Fragrance Collection has a diverse range of scents. Can you please share more about some of them?
The Axe Fine Fragrance Collection comprises various unique scents across three different categories, enriched with more than 20 essential oils and constructed to provide long-lasting, noticeable fragrance that leaves guys feeling – and smelling – premium.
- Blue Lavender is icy, clean and smooth, infused with lavender, mint and amber notes.
- Aqua Bergamot is a clear, sparkling, marine fragrance with notes of bergamot, sage and juniper.
- Green Geranium is a crisp, modern, ‘green’ fragrance with notes of geranium, cedarwood and patchouli.
- Golden Mango is a fruity, tropical, beachy scent with notes of mango, mandarin and vetiver.
- Pure Coconut is a soft, smooth fragrance combining the crunch of eucalyptus and cedar leaf with a shot of raw coconut and deeply addictive vanilla.
- And Copper Santal, available exclusively in Europe for now, is a warm and woody fragrance with notes of black pepper, sandalwood and a sweet hint of brown sugar.
Finally, what makes the Axe Fine Fragrance Collection so disruptive in the fragrance world?
Axe is famous for its disruptive fragrances. Axe Dark Temptation (in the US) broke with convention when it launched with its smooth aromas of dark chocolate blended with amber and peppercorn – it was the first time we had used edible notes in a fragrance designed for men. The Fine Fragrance Collection is going to another level with premium scents and high-quality ingredients, yet it won’t empty the wallets of our consumers.
Gen Z guys are educated on fragrance and choosing their scent is a way they express their edge, their identity. With Axe Fine Fragrance, we want them to feel premium with every spray.
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