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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 7 of 8

Popular scents: From the study population of 372 women,the chart in F-6 shows the percentage of women who included scents named most frequently in the study within their list of “ever enjoyed” and “favorite” scents.

Distribution of Person-to-Perfume Matches Across 14 Fragrance Families

Study data for 372 women consisted of 1,786 records of “ever enjoyed” and “favorite” scents, with many scents, of course, being named by multiple women. These records of person-to-perfume matches distribute into the 14 families in The Fragrance Wheel as shown in T-3.

Number of Scents Women Named as “Ever Enjoyed” and “Favorite”

Each woman participating in the study was encouraged to name as many scents as she could remember as “ever enjoyed” and “favorite.” The researcher prodded study subjects for additional scents until it was clear that the respondent would recall no more. The most common number of scents on a woman’s list was four. See T-4 for figures on number of scents named.

Olfactory Preference—Key Driver for Fine Fragrance Sales

Some retailers have attempted to use the Fragrances of the World guide, database and consumer-oriented software as tools in fragrance marketing. Nonetheless, the industry has generally ignored fragrance families in favor of marketing approaches that fail to answer the fundamental question: “What do people want to smell?” Oblivious to the liquid inside, a consumer may acquire a new bottle whose shape, name and advertisements resonate with her sense of self. Eventually, however, she will revert to olfactory type, only wearing and repeating the purchase of scents truly enjoyed.

This study proves that most women, over a lifetime, will develop attachments to perfumes that fall within a specific range on the olfactory continuum. The fragrance industry can improve upon marketing promotions currently based on the equivalent of an olfactory roulette wheel. Aspirational marketing and celebrity endorsements support an initial purchase. To combat consumer fatigue with excessive options and to broaden and deepen the market for perfume, it is necessary to target sales to individuals based on the smells they enjoy.