What are you (really) buying when you purchase a fragrance?

  1. Advert brand fragrance

A dog’s social world is fairly simply structured and hugely influenced by the fact that a dog’s sense of smell is somewhere between 1000 and 10,000 times more sensitive than ours. So, if you are one of our canine companions and meet someone new, introductions are easy.   You sniff their behind, they sniff yours and we both know all we need to about each other.

Now I’m sure that this is not what O2, or their agency, had in mind when they suggested that we ‘’be more dog”, but it did set me thinking.

We humans, with far superior social skills and modes of communication have no need to rely on scent to manage our social interactions and yet, according to Elle, “A scent can define who you are and how you want to present yourself to the world in a simple and subtle way.”*

Now if that is the case, we might reasonably assumes that the way a scent ‘defines us’ must be influenced by the name of the product and the marketing and advertising campaigns promoting it.

So what does that mean when we buy a bottle of “Black Opium”, from Yves Saint Laurent, “Guilty”, from Gucci, “Reveal” by Calvin Klein, “Be Delicious” by DKNY or “Extatic” by Balmain?

As for “Endless Euphoria”, by Calvin Klein, “Pure Poison”, from Dior, “Her Love Story”, by Yohji Yamamoto and, my personal favourite, “Nuit d’Amour” from Guerlain… Well……

Clearly we think we are buying something more than just a bottle of stuff that smells nice and, equally clearly, the manufacturers think they are selling something more than that. But what?

Just have a look at the advertisements below and let’s reflect on my original question, “What are you (really) buying when you purchase a fragrance?”

05-Narciso-Rodriguez-For-Her 03-miss-dior-cherie-maryna-sofia  13-sasha-pivovarova-juicy-viva-la-juicy-perfume-advertising-campaign

Of course, everyone knows that advertisements like these are exercising a huge amount of poetic license…. But if we don’t, at some level, buy into the narrative that the product’s name and semiotics of these kind of ads present, why do advertisers use these treatments and why do we respond to them?

As a male, of advancing years, I know, intellectually, that Armani “Diamonds” for men, will not cause the kind of problems for me that the gentlemen in the advertisement below is having to endure….


…. Even if I drank a whole bottle of it, soaked my clothes in it and put a generous dab behind each ear it’s just not going to happen. Now maybe I am over-sharing here, but, in spite what I know intellectually and rationally, I, sadly, do respond to that advertisement. Why?

There is the famous, although possibly apocryphal, quote from a marketer of cosmetics who, in response to the question, “What are you selling?” replied, “Hope!”.

That may give us some food for thought but, as we approach Christmas, a popular time to buy, to give and to liberally use perfumes, my question is still “What are you (really) buying when you purchase a fragrance?”

Furthermore, my challenge to you is, tell us what you really think you are buying when you purchase a fragrance for yourself, or as a gift, and how does that match with what you think the producer of that perfume is selling?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

*(Source http://www.elle.com/beauty/makeup-skin-care/tips/g8630/editors-favorite-fragrances/)

Posted in:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *