Friday, January 2, 2009

2008: The Year of the Perfumista


What did the marketer learn in 2008?
  • That the consumer she’s pitching to is 3 times more likely to be a man than in 2007
  • That assigning the tag “niche” to a perfume house doesn’t make it better or higher in quality; likewise, that niche does not right off the bat spell luxury or the justification of an astronomical SRP
  • That “wardrobing” in fragrances is a good idea, even within a brand
  • That flankers have begun to wobble

  • That markdowns at high-end retailers may be on the horizon, if not very generous incentives to help the sale along
  • That natural perfumery, fraught with a lot of its own self-taught marketing bunkum, is a greater adversary than previously thought
  • That there’s an art to marketing a fragrance beyond two-word tag lines and cleavage shots

What did the consumer learn in 2008?
  • To be more honest about his or her likes and dislikes
  • To reconsider the past. To reconsider the smell of the past
  • That, in some cases, the mighty (houses) have fallen
  • That a fragrance can be as much about a place (or memory) as about desired personae or objects of desire
  • That it’s OK to put on enough that people actually can smell it
  • To like a well-designed bottle as much as the good stuff inside
  • To enjoy reading and bitching about perfume
  • To appreciate complexity
  • To identify notes
  • To own more than two
Some highlights I’m proud of are my January–February 2008 series on Middle Eastern perfumery, my Roses for Men posting, my Search for the Perfect Vetiver, and my rebuttal to New York Times critic Chandler Burr. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2009!

Image credit: Gourielli Fourth Dimension advertisement, c.1953

8 Comments:

Blogger ScentScelf said...

I concur!

I am also hoping that the dim economic climate enrobing many portions of the world adds another facet to the rise of natural perfumery, the decline of the great houses, the more widely accepted concept of a fragrance "wardrobe"...and that would an emphasis on quality. Let the marketing follow a good juice, a good bottle, a good concept (& execution), because the fragrance consumer is getting wise enough, practiced enough to hold on to their cash until something that is worth it comes along.

After all, there are always quality vintages to chase down if there's nothing worthy in the current offerings...

Happy New Year.

January 3, 2009 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

ScentScelf-

I don't understand your first remark, as most natural perfumery is dearer in price than that of traditional, chemistry-aided perfumery, but I will agree that the notion of "brand" (particularly when allied with luxury) has had its comeuppance in a major way. Yes, 2008 was about a wiser, more savvy fragrance customer - quite exciting b/c finally there's a real challenge for the creative directors. And for all the diversity, we need a paradigm shift, a new "No 5" for the 2009-2089 era - in short, something that people can access in extrait, EDP and EDT and which will be readily available to them.

Finally, yes, there is so much great vintage perfume out there, that if we spent the rest of our lives testing it all we still wouldn't get to the end of it. Explore away...

And a Happy New Year to you too.

January 4, 2009 at 12:02 AM  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

Hmmm...well...I have in my possession fragrances from Liz Zorn and Ayala Sender, and the LZ in particular is at a price point to rival traditional perfume--even "midrange" or department store variety. The Ayala compares favorably, as do Roxana Villa's offerings. But I am certainly not familiar with the full breadth of offerings, so I absolutely could have been off in my conception of the standings. :)

January 4, 2009 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

ScentScelf- I was thinking more of the prices I've seen by natural perfumers like Dr. George Dodd of Scent Systems, GBP 229.00 for 17mL. When you look at prices of oils and absolutes, it's hard to believe that truly opulent, faceted perfumes (and when I say that I mean extrait strength) can be created for less than mass-market price points. IFRA regulations will be more of an impetus for natural perfumers to create, as like Octavian says on his blog, their goal is basically the eradication of all natural ingredients in mass-produced fragrances.

January 4, 2009 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

Oh, absolutely! (erm...pun there? absolute-ly? blargh...) Yes, when it comes to quality and complex and small batches, it is hard to compete with mass market. Bulk pricing has its advantages...of course, so does some of the cost-cutting and substitution-ing of which Octavian speaks.

Speaking of that Chanel, I wonder how long No.5 will hold out, using its exclusive, natural ingredients? (Mind you, I am rooting for it and others like it...)

I'm also curious to meet this scent that Octavian is concocting himself....

January 4, 2009 at 5:49 PM  
Anonymous vince said...

Long live Vetivresse!

January 4, 2009 at 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Perfume and Cologne said...

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January 7, 2009 at 5:22 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

PerfumeandCologne- This is a blog, not a marketing tool. Please do not use my comments bar as an advertising device; otherwise, I will begin moderating all comments. I thank you in advance for respecting that policy.

January 28, 2009 at 8:47 AM  

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