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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.

page 6 of 8

In order to determine whether women have lifetime preferences in scent that may somehow be missed using families previously defined by The Fragrance Wheel or by clusters defined elsewhere in this research, new groupings were devised based on a hybrid of the 14 families and subcategories thereof.

This new slice of the data showed that fruity and/or citrusy characteristics in commercial fragrances are a key driver of olfactory preference, although the popularity of citrus and fruit is not clearly reflected in data that relies simply on 14 families within The Fragrance Wheel. New groupings also underscored the popularity of floral fragrance aspects abundantly clear elsewhere in the research.

Citrus and fruit—notable notes: Study data revealed that for 41% of women in the study, half or more of their “ever enjoyed” and “favorite” scents were citrusy and/or fruity. The new grouping of data that revealed this finding used a combination of the citrus and fruity families on The Fragrance Wheel and the citrus/fruity subcategory of the following families: dry woods, floral, floral oriental, mossy woods, oriental, soft floral, woods and woody oriental.

Concentration of Preference in Four Major Fragrance Categories

While the four major classifications of floral, oriental, fresh and woods are commonly recognized in the fragrance industry, from a strictly olfactory standpoint they represent distinctions that are crude relative to the 14 families of The Fragrance Wheel. Despite this qualification, readers familiar with the categories may be interested in how the preferences of study participants distribute across floral, oriental, woods and fresh (F-5).

Eighty-six percent of women naming three or more “ever enjoyed”/“favorite” scents showed half or more of their fragrances concentrated in at least one major category. Floral was the most popular category at 54%, followed by oriental at 46%, woods at 5% and fresh at 3%. One quarter of women with major category preferences (half or more “ever enjoyed”/“favorite” scents in any major category) had their preferences evenly split between two major categories. The correspondence of Michael Edwards’ 14 fragrance families to the four categories—floral, oriental, woods and fresh—is displayed in T-2.

Other Study Findings