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The Case for Fragrance Family Loyalty

By: Laura Donna, Consumer Fragrance Education, LLC
Posted: May 23, 2012, from the June 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Is the fragrance industry afraid to reduce the courtship between a fragrance shopper and a scent to something as basic as smell? Would it destroy the mystical seduction of bottle and brand to confront consumers directly with information about how the juice affects their noses?

Can the industry accept that olfactory basics—the differences among floral, oriental, woody and fresh scents and the 14 families comprising them—are intimidating to the uninitiated? Even beauty industry training developers and sales process designers comfortable with the complex features and functions of skin care and color seem to shy away from fragrance families, falling back, instead, on image-based marketing techniques that ignore client preference in scent.

Is it possible that the industry is not yet convinced that individual consumers truly gravitate, over time, to scents sharing an olfactory profile?

The Case for Olfactory Marketing—Individual Loyalty to Fragrance Families

In the face of seemingly irrational dependence upon fragrance marketing that ignores olfactory preference, this author speculated that individual women, over a lifetime, gravitate toward scents reflecting a narrow range of sensory qualities. By the same token, they purchase and wear scents that they like to smell because of their olfactory properties, rather than choosing scents based on aggressive marketing focused on other traits of the product.

Research based on the author’s hypothesis of fragrance family loyalty yielded data patterns significant enough initially to place them within the “too good to be true” range. Statisticians sliced and diced, then diced and sliced the data to ensure that the researcher was not hypnotized by her own hypothesis. The obvious patterns withstood intense scrutiny. Indeed, women have distinct and enduring preferences in scent. Perfumes identified as “ever enjoyed” and “favorite” cluster into olfactory categories reflecting loyalty to scent types over time.

Study Design