Byredo’s Ben Gorham On The Secret To Connecting With Millennials And Gen Z

By Owen Turner

Ben Gorham, the founder of luxury brand Byredo, shares how he’s bottling up emotions and infusing them with authenticity to speak to younger consumers across Asia

Tatler Asia

For many brands, millennials and Gen Z have been notoriously difficult to connect with. Whether it’s the former’s frugality or the latter’s tech-savviness, there are definitive characteristics of each generation that pose new challenges for brands and marketers. But if there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s our ability to feel and the importance we place on our memories.

This concept of evoking a memory or emotion through products has guided Ben Gorham to build his luxury brand Byredo.

Gorham started the brand more than 15 years ago as a side project creating scented candles. After a chance meeting with renowned Swedish perfumer, Pierre Wulff, he became inspired to create his first fragrance based on scents from his childhood. He began with his olfactory memory of his father, who was out of the picture from when Gorham was six years old. He later turned this hobby into a business after discovering how powerful fragrances can be at breathing life into memories and emotions.

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Above  Ben Gorham started his luxury brand Byredo in Stockholm in 2006 (Photo: Courtesy of Byredo)

Now, with his unique approach to storytelling, Gorham has grown Byredo into a leading luxury brand that creates fragrances for men and women, as well as other products such as leather goods makeup and home accessories. The brand has a presence in over 40 markets worldwide.

As Byredo enters the metaverse and expands across Asia, we sit down with Gorham to understand the challenges of relating to young consumers in the region and what’s next for the brand.

Read more: Artificial Dust's Jerry Haha On Why Brands Overthink Gen Z

Tell us about your vision for Byredo.

Ben Gorham (BG): I’ve always had an instinctive approach to being open and subjective, so it was important for us to be a non-dictatorial brand. 

Byredo is a collection of products, scents and objects that let people express themselves and hopefully evoke enough emotion that they can make it their own. The human and emotive element is at the heart of what we create, whether it be fragrance, homeware or makeup. It’s not about codes or a traditional execution of product design; products are designed to make people feel, to elicit something maybe a little unexpected. Each product has a story to tell, and I want to pass on those stories for people to individualise. 

Byredo will always be about how we make people feel.

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Above  Byredo is known for its minimalist design. Its perfumes feature an array of notes from floral to musk and sandalwood (Photo: Courtesy of Byredo)

Why do you think Byredo has gained so much popularity with millennials and Gen Z globally?

BG: I think they can sense the authenticity behind what we do. My biggest hope since the beginning has been that people connect to one of the scents in some way. 

As Byredo expands across Asia, how would you describe Asian millennial and Gen Z shoppers?

BG: I would say that they look to celebrate the now, and are very proud and respectful of the heritage and cultures that they engage with. Their progressiveness, restlessness and fearlessness amaze me.

Is there a unique strategy that Byredo uses to appeal to young Asian consumers? 

BG: I never considered that one type of person would buy or appreciate our products. I try to approach it more in a human way, by telling stories that I feel are universal regardless of age, gender or background. To this day, I consider our diverse following to be one of our greatest achievements.

Read more: Millennials And Gen Z Are Driving The Speed Of Environmental Change

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Above  Gorham was exposed to different cultures from a young age. Born to an Indian mother and a Canadian father, Gorham spent his childhood living in Toronto, New York and Stockholm (Photo: Courtesy of Byredo)

The perfume industry is dominated by brands with a long history. Was it challenging for you to enter this market and how do you keep up with evolving consumer preferences? 

BG: Being an outsider in this industry has come with challenges, but also a lot of benefits. I didn’t have to accept the status quo. I could look objectively and see opportunities differently from other brands with well-established ways of doing things.

And we keep up with consumer preferences by being truly authentic. With that, I mean that we don’t chase trends and we aren’t interested in overnight success. I believe that brands that don’t consider the long-term will disappear quickly, regardless of their current popularity.

Tell us about the collaboration with RTFKT to create a scent for the metaverse.

BG: I liked the idea of dissecting fragrance down to its raw materials. A single scent is incapable of representing this virtual world, so we formulated a lexicon of elements that collectors can combine at will to make a fragrance that is entirely unique. I am intrigued by the metaverse and pushing the boundaries of scent with different mediums.

What made you decide to expand into Asia and what are your plans from here?

BG: We are continuing to open more stores in Asia and putting emphasis on reaching our Asian consumers as much as possible. I personally love spending time there. I always feel alight with excitement when I am there—it’s like travelling to the future. I am in absolute awe of the sheer organisation, order and also the exuberance of the people, colours and smells.

This article is part of a collaboration between Gen.T and Eloquence (EQ) International, a creative agency based in Hong Kong with a proprietary 360 brand-building method SBM (strategy, branding, marketing). With a mission to connect brands and people on an emotional level through the power of storytelling, EQ builds brands and experiences that cut through the noise, advocate style and above all, endure.

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