Wednesday, August 4, 2010

If it smells good and enough people like it and buy it all the time, , constantly, it becomes a classic

It's in those terms that Rochelle Bloom, president of the Fragrance Foundation, the educational non-profit center devoted to fine fragrance, explains the fact that 7 out of the 10 top sellers in the US have remained the same in the last 10 years. The notiong of "modern classic", thus defined. The only thing remaining to be clarified is what smells "good". Apparently Forbes reports several interesting tidbits, one of which is that perfume companies are not playing their distribution channels smartly: Mary J.Blige's new fragrance is sold through the Home Shopping Network, so buyers buy before even sniffing! And they do let on about what makes for the popularity stakes: "According to the NPD Group, a market research company that tracks fragrance sales, the top five best-selling prestige fragrance brands sold in U.S. department stores in 2009 were:
1. Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle (2001)
2. Giorgio Armani's Acqua Di Gio Pour Homme (1997)
3. Estee Lauder's Beautiful (1985)
4. Dolce and Gabbana's Light Blue (2001)
5. Chanel's Chanel No. 5 (1921)"
White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor is a firm favourite in the top-10 of mass appeal, ever since its launch in 1991.
Ancilary products are another way of adding cachet & sales to the scented routine. Nourish your skin with skin care lotion and add Sarah Jessica Parker perfume for extra results.That would be one example of toping up the experience, wouldn't it.

In contrast the Top 10 Best Selling Fragrances in France according to popular L'Internaute are:
1. Angel by Thierry Mugler
2. Lolita Lempicka by Lolita Lempicka
3. Flower by Kenzo
4. Allure by Chanel
5. Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel
6. J'Adore by Dior
7. No.5 by Chanel
8. Shalimar by Guerlain
9. Dior Addict
10. Samsara by Guerlain



  1. FragranceX gives almost the same data for woman top-5:
    Cool Water
    Light Blue
    Lolita Lempicka

    Are they classic? I'm not sure about all except Shalimar or No.5, although all they smell nice enough to be best selling. Perhaps, if they will be in market 100 years after. We'll see. :)

  2. As much as I realise Chanel No 5 is a classic and doesn't smell half bad, I do suspect that many people buy it for its 'prestige' or image value, rather than purely on merit. Then again, that is often how a lot of luxury purchases are made, no?

  3. alexp11:58

    After reading and discovering that there is no new launch from , let's take, the last 5 years in this top I'm thinking about all these new launches each year.....

  4. I guess in this context smelling "good" simply means "bought by lots of people". And I'd rather not define what is a classic based pretty much only on sales figures,
    but I guess that's one way of doing it.
    To be honest, I think the whole idea of what is a classic is changing. With the frequent reformulations we see, there's very little likelihood that fragrances are going to stay the same for a decade or more.
    I'd rather not see it defined only by sales figures, but I guess it's the most direct and easiest way to do it.
    Still, it makes me feel bleak about the outlook, somehow saddened.

    By the way, I don't know if you've seen this - Fresh is having a writing contest to win a bespoke fragrance, prize worth $10,000 apparently (US residents only, unfortunately): http://wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/45070

  5. What caught my attention in this top ten are the interesting differences - or should I say, olfactory perceptions - between what "smells good" in France compared to the US.

    So far as I can tell, the US top ten reflect the value of marketing more than anything - if a perfume becomes ubiquitous enough, if enough people buy it, then, I surmise the reasoning goes, it must therefore be "classic".

    It looks as if those perceptions are very different in France. Of course, this is a very valid cultural difference, but so far as I can tell, the French seem to be choosing more with their noses and less with the lemming response of mass marketing - up to apoint, because no one is impervious or oblivious to having their buttons pushed by a good ad or commercial!

    My definition of a classic - actually, that should be capitalized Classic - is rather different. Classics to me are the perfumes that transcend trend, transcend marketing, and even time itself - they are what they are, entire and unique, for all sorts of reasons personal and olfactory - and of course, they "smell good", too! My own are the ones I never tire of, who always give me some interesting twist, a mood, a reflection of myself that is improved in some visceral way - from my skin to the sillage I project!

    Although I'm sure not everyone will agree! ;-)

  6. I honestly feel that the more a company spends on advertising its scent - the more it sells.
    This is sad for many great scents don't get this leg up.

  7. Hmm, my initial observations are that the French list is so...sweet on top. And that I would not have guessed Coco Madamoiselle to be at the top of the U.S. list...but that might explain why I was surprised when the sales associate in Paris offered me a sample of Coco M. And perhaps why she was surprised when I said "no thanks."

    I was at THE Chanel. I had asked for a samp of No.19. When that wasn't available, and Coco M was offered instead, I asked for regular Coco. No go on that, either. We called a truce, and I said "yes" to Eau Premiere.

    You'd think the fact that I had walked in and went straight for Bois des Isles in perfume would have re-profiled me away from whatever "American" label I was wearing on my forehead. Oh, well.

    Anyway, I'm wishing there were release dates on the French list, too; I'm not data-retentive enough to call them up on my own. Because the U.S. list has some relative long-timers there...it's 10 years or more for all of them, if you fudge 2001 a bit. Which to me offers that that is a loyal crowd. Which could be habitual...or the lingering effects of initially successful marketing...or maybe even that crowd IS using there nose, just with different preferences.

    Oddly, in conventional terms, one could say the French lists trends more youthful, no? Is the American younger dollar being split among more labels, with all the celebrity scents and all? Or are they not spending more? Or do French women past a certain age happen to like more "youthful" scents?

    And then there's No. 5. It just continues to be its own animal, doesn't it?

    (There! I discussed! :) )

  8. Very interesting list - and all viable classics, I suppose. I, too, have my top 5 that I continue to consider above the rest, and I return to them again and again. My own classics.

  9. I love to compare cross-cultural favorites in fragrances. There have been several articles written about popular fragrance notes in varying countries (ie Italians and their love of citrus; Japanese and their favorite quiet, sweet scents) and I am always intrigued.

    Thank you for this!

  10. I love these lists- it shows you quite a lot about the respective countries.

    I do always think with the really big sellers you have to take into account the men who buy what's in front of their nose at Christmas to some degree- and women trying to conform too. It also shows what an advertising budget can do- but perhaps more so in America. I don't imagine Lolita to have a very big budget at all and it's flying high in France!

    Actually I am not the greatest fan of Lolita or Flower although I quite like both but I think it's great they are doing so well in France and that French women still obviously buy with their noses. They buy sweet though don't they!

    And the Americans still like a good citrus with No 5 for smelling like they have good taste.

  11. All looks nice but will look nicer in The Scent Genie, a new fragrance accessory being launched in September-October 2010. Google Scent Genie to see how it works.

    Fragrance Lovers Rejoice

  12. Beautiful and Light Blue in the US top 5? Say it ain't so... The popularity of Light Blue (its inoffensiveness, basically) I can kind of understand, though the bottle is desperately plain, but the appeal of Beautiful I have never been able to get my head around. It is certainly is promoted heavily in the UK, so that may be the short answer.

    It is not that I have to like something to accept its being in a top 5 or 10, but I have to understand why someone COULD like something (Flower, Lolita Lempicka, Angel), but with Beautiful I am frankly stumped.

    : - )

  13. Well ive beind using the same perfume ever... Eternity from Calvin Klein... i used to buy at a flea market for better deal but now with the advance of tecnology I am buying online at http://www.thehotperfumes.com they have great prices and theyr delivery at 5 bucks flat fee is great... I will continue using this worderful perfume no matter what king of new products they bring out... old school...lol

  14. The Chanel image and the desire to remain a "Mademoiselle" factor into the reasons Coco Mademoiselle is at the top of the list. Its 90% marketing, 10% scent preference IMO. (I base this on people I know who wear, or want to wear, this scent.) I've smelled it on too many people now, and frankly it repulses me. I don't think the French list demonstrates any more sophistication than the U.S. list, just different brand loyalty. Obviously, you'd see Guerlain on a French list, and Estee Lauder on a U.S. one. Chanel is so well known that it transcends nationality.

    I would really be more interested in the second tier of the list -- fragrances that are popular now, but aren't the old standbys.


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