Saturday, 2 August 2014

Josh Asks - Does Consumption Influence Perfume Development?

Josh doesn't "do" perfume.
He wears Tom Ford For Men because his girlfriend's mum bought it for him.
However one evening in the pub he started asking some great questions so I started a feature called "Josh Asks..."

Josh's full question is

"What impact does the way fragrances are bought have on how they're developed? There is a nose bamboozling mix of smells in shops so surely brands are trying to make a big impact on that first sniff, does that impact overall quality?"

Short answer - Yes, you can design something just to sell.

Long answer-

I use the analogy of film; there are "summer blockbusters" and likewise I believe some fragrances are made simply to sell. In film terms, a terrible film can do well at the cinema.

But wait a minute... Surely if it sells a lot it cannot be terrible? 

Agreed, people may enjoy these summer blockbusters and best selling fragrances.

However, my point with this article is-

Companies can influence consumption in the same way you alter the bait when fishing.

If you spend enough money on marketing and promotions you will get bums on seats in the cinema. 
Likewise, pump in enough cash into fragrance advertising and you'll get noses on bottles (I think that's the equivalent).

Other examples of influencing consumption-
  • Jumping on a current trend bandwagon
  • It only smells nice in the first few minutes (When you are in the shop)
  • Brand or celebrity endorsement
  • Bottle design
  • Free gift with purchase
  • Time limited promotions/discounts
  • Exclusivity through availability or price

Anything that detracts from you judging it based on how it smells on you, over time.

Distracted by bright lights and noises, the average consumer is drawn to the hyped and exaggerated latest release or simply the one that everyone else is buying.

A sales assistant told me that someone came in and asked for six bottles of the most popular fragrance without even smelling it.

Now onto the other bit of Josh's question, the "bamboozling mix of smells"

Josh uses the word bamboozle and I think it is appropriate because it is easy to become confused when faced with over stimulation of the senses and too much choice.

Imagine you are in a store, you have 20 minutes to choose a fragrance, and you have already sniffed 5 as the assistant hands you a few more.

You are only getting hits of the extreme starts of fragrances (top notes). They haven't had time to develop properly, as well as your nose being fatigued from smelling so much, making it harder to judge properly.

Add to this the environment which will probably be a room that is already thick with perfume, further masking what you are smelling.

I don't go clubbing/drinking much (surprise!) but when I do I am reminded of the peacock effect. They are designed to draw attention, whether it is the eye or the nose, and use a variety of tricks to do so.

In fragrance terms this means some smells are engineered to have impact in the first few minutes and then fizzle away, knowing that you may make a decision based on those first few minutes.

Do all fragrances do this?


Are the fragrances that do this bad?

Not necessarily.

What's your point then? 

Be aware that you might be sniffing something that is designed purely to sell product rather than delight your nose.

How can I help myself?

Be patient and thorough. Allow your nose time to breathe and give the fragrance time to develop on you.

Relax :)

"Hang on a minute mate, I just want to buy some perfume, not spend two days researching and deliberating."
Well, whatever you do is fine, there is no right and wrong with this. This article aims only to raise awareness to avoid disappointment.

Hopefully you are now more informed and aware of the things affecting your decision process for the future. Then, rather than finding one that you like that smells okay, you can find one that you absolutely love that makes you smile eagerly when you spray it and remains with you through the day.

Are you being bamboozled?


  1. I'm forever asking myself this: who buys all those limited edition-summer-fresh-edt nasty things?!
    Take Dior Addict, nothing wrong with it, good fragrance, and yet every year or so I'm being handed a card sprayed with some watered down, alcohol heavy shite, sorry L'eau Addict something, that Dior deems necessary to release. Awful.

    Obviously, Dior and Addict are only here as an example, most of the big perfume houses are guilty of that.

  2. Haha, I know what you mean oktaryna.
    People like familiarity, they look for what they know, and they like the same thing with slight variations.
    Perhaps if some people are buying for a friend and know they like Addict, maybe they will like Addict flankers?
    It's mostly just to sell more perfume though!



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