It took convincing for Chriselle Lim, now co-founder and creative director of the fragrance brand Phlur, to join the brand in 2021. She said she didn’t think she was prepared to develop a fragrance business while in the midst of a divorce. But by leveraging the brand’s original shopper base and adding new scents inspired by her own moments and memories, the brand’s relaunch has been a success.
Its top-selling scent, “Missing Person,” sold out in two weeks when it launched in 2022. It then earned a 250,000-person waitlist. Today, the brand is sold at Sephora, Selfridges and, as of January, Anthropologie. Now, the team is shifting its focus to creating collectible new launches as well as finding new inspiration for fragrances. With Phlur’s next round of scents, the brand is moving away from Lim’s memories of her past to her experiences as an influencer. That starts with its newest scent, “Fashion Girls,” which is inspired by the feelings that fashion girls evoke, according to Lim.
At Glossy’s Beauty x Wellness Summit on Monday, Lim discussed how she’s leading a brand while also being an influencer, and how she plans to turn Phlur fragrances into Gen Alpha-friendly products.
Relaunching a brand comes with tough decisions
Before joining the brand, Lim knew that Phlur was one of the very first digitally native fragrance brands. “They built a really strong niche following in the clean fragrance section because they were the first fragrance brand to be transparent with all of their ingredients,” she said. “At the time, that was unheard of.”
In its first life, the brand had only targeted and been marketed to people who love clean beauty. “We really wanted to go beyond that and be a global brand,” Lim said. “So we decided to remove the clean beauty marketing — but we’re still transparent with all of our ingredients. We are a clean brand, but we don’t market it as that anymore.”
And while the change made for some disappointed brand fans, Lim said the move was necessary to future-proof the brand. “The die-hard Phlur fans [responded] with a lot of hate emails and messages,” said Lim. “But we were expecting that. A few of the original Plhur scents have done really well, so some of those OG fans have stuck around for those originals. But now it’s more about [reaching] the younger audience, like Gen Alpha.”
Lim also shifted the pricing and the visual strategy for Phlur products to best engage younger customers. “We want it to be a brand that speaks to the next generation,” she said. “It’s sophisticated, but it’s colorful, it’s young, it’s friendly, and it’s inviting. And the price points are more friendly [than they were].”
A fragrance wardrobe is the new signature scent
According to Lim, consumers are approaching fragrances much differently than they used to. “It used to be all about your signature scent — that one scent you wear every single day,” said Lim.
“For this generation, their [choice] scent is all about their moods, fashion and outfits. It is about evoking a certain mood or scenario they want to play out,” she said. “They will go to their fragrance wardrobe and choose what they are feeling.” As a result, Phlur’s repeat customers are always there when the brand has a drop or launch, because they want a whole wardrobe of self-expression through scent.
“At first I was like, ‘Are we doing too much?’” said Lim. “Then I realized that every single product drop continues to be just as successful as the previous one because all of our scents are so different and unique.” Through the scent profile and accompanying content, the brand focuses on capturing or evoking a moment that is universal yet still original. The rainbow-hued bottles help encourage the idea of collectible perfumes. “The customers don’t even care how it smells; they just want the next thing,” said Lim.
How Lim is leveraging an Instagram broadcast channel
“My broadcast channel allows me to go a little bit deeper with my followers,” said Lim.
“I show them my deep, dark thoughts, as well as my happy thoughts,” she said. “It’s a small, tight-knit group. I know they feel very connected to me there.” Lim tends to be vulnerable on her social media, especially within the broadcast channel. Named “DM’s from Chris,” the channel features insights from her life as well as personal growth advice. She also uses the channel to promote Phlur, which has a separate social presence.
“It is about the community – I might have millions of followers, but it’s these 7,000 people that are on my broadcast channel that bring the majority of the engagement,” she said. “I treat them really well and share things with them that other people may never get access to or see.” Rewarding engagement is a priority, she said. Lim also uses the channel to host competitions featuring Phlur products as prizes.