10 Years In, Scentbird Founder Mariya Nurislamova Says the Platform Is Entering Its ‘Golden Era’

As Scentbird rounds out its first decade in business, the next 10 years look even more promising, according to founder Mariya Nurislamova.

“I’m calling the times right now the ‘golden era’ of Scentbird,” said Nurislamova, who in the past two years spearheaded a rebrand, an acquisition of car air freshener company, Drift, and the launch of the Scent World Podcast, guests of which have included Frederic Malle and drag queen Trixie Mattel.

The platform has seen standout growth as a result. Scentbird counts 700,000 subscribers — up from 450,000 in 2022 — and also added more than 265 fragrances and 40 fragrance brands to its assortment in 2023, including Carina Chaz’s Dedcool, Roja Parfums and niche perfumery favorite, Ex Nihilo.

“Our assortment is the strongest we’ve ever had. The goal is to make sure we have something in our portfolio for everybody,” said Nurislamova, adding that the platform’s core age group is 25 to 34 years old.

Here, Nurislamova reflects on 10 years in business and her outlook for 2024.

What resonates most with the Scentbird consumer, and how are you thinking about acquiring new customers?

Mariya Nurislamova: We’ve brought a lot of gender-fluid fragrances over the past 18 months to the platform as we continue to see those lines blur; clean fragrance continues to be a theme that people are more mindful about now, and Scentbird Select — our collection of premium fragrances — has been really resonating with our consumer, and we’re looking to grow that assortment.

Word-of-mouth is the part that probably grew the most post-rebrand. One of our earliest growth “hacks,” so to speak, has been working with influencers since 2014; we have thousands of influencer partnerships today that help us drive new customers to the website. And then storytelling that we’ve been putting out there whether through our blog, social media, the Scent World podcast — all of those efforts are adding to our credibility and helping in getting new consumers in the door.

Fragrance is very linked to culture even more so with the emergence of #PerfumeTok — how is Scentbird tapping into platforms like TikTok and building momentum there?

M.N.: The real growth hack of social media is creating viral content, and there is no rhyme or reason to how that happens. For Scentbird, it boils down to telling great perfume stories in a very snackable format; we’ve gotten good at taking two hours of content from a Scent World podcast episode, and grabbing that one snackable, 30-second moment that just hits the right nerve with the consumer and can get a million views on TikTok and on Instagram. Every week, our social media team presents a report on what’s trending around perfume on TikTok — so we’re always keeping an eye on the pulse of what’s out there.

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Scentbird’s male consumer is growing — in some cases outspending your female consumer. How are you cultivating growth among men?

M.N.: When we launched Scentbird, it was for women only but the demand from the community was so loud that about a year in we had to launch Scentbird for men. We’ve found that being able to skip the trip to the department store, browsing perfume reviews and being able to shop behind the scenes is liberating for men. Adding gender-fluid fragrances and dramatically improving our assortment geared toward men over the last 18 months has been working; we’ve become a lot more thoughtful about the trends in the male fragrance space. That sweet spot for us is that top-earning male that can be a diehard fan of Scentbird.

A little over a year ago, Scentbird acquired subscription car air freshener company, Drift. What has been the strategic significance of that acquisition so far?

M.N.: Thousands of Scentbird customers are now getting Drift through scentbird.com. We also created a [car] fragrance collaboration between Drift and our in-house fragrance brand, Confessions of a Rebel, which outperformed our expectations in terms of sales and the reception. If I had known how many synergies there would be even around data sharing and understanding how we can marry up Drift usage and preference data to Scentbird in order to craft better products across the board, perhaps we would have would have acquired a [subscription fragrance company] sooner. We’re looking to bring Drift into the fine fragrance arena, too, because we have our eyes on the male category and Drift has a cult male following.

What could a first fragrance from Drift look like?

M.N.: Woodsy meets the outdoors. Woody fragrances are what the Drift customer naturally gravitates toward, and it’s such an adventurous brand that’s all about that “roadtrip” feel somewhere out West — so it would be a woods-meets-the-open-air kind of feel.

Is there any universe in which Scentbird expands its play into like the brick-and-mortar space?

M.N.: Never say never. Right before COVID-19, we had some serious intentions to get into [stand-alone] retail, but since then we doubled down on our strength, which is digital. Ultimately, we’re here for the long haul — the next 50 or 100 years — so I do think that at some point, brick-and-mortar locations will make sense to support an omnichannel approach. But is that our immediate goal? It’s not.

What else is on the menu for Scentbird in 2024?

M.N.: We are looking at an expansion into Europe, which has been on the docket for a while; with the fragrance offerings we have, we think it is going to be very special. Expanding the Drift assortment is another priority, and we’re launching our first cocreated fragrance in May with a niche brand called Scents of Wood. This will be the first step of a cocreation initiative we have kicked off internally, and we’ll be launching one fragrance for men and one for women, each rooted in neuroscience — so they’ll have functional benefits beyond being sophisticated, layered creations playing on the idea of the forest.

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