Thursday, June 23, 2011

Color Trends Stimulate Perfumers in the Creation of New & Different Fragrances, Study Shows

We have long suspected it. In fact we have even devoted a whole essay with empirical data to support the case on how colour plays a big role when choosing scent. But now research comes to confirm it, even though it reads much like promotion for a company promoting top-to-bottom colour & fragrance design.

"A comprehensive study from the fragrance company Arylessence says that our sense of sight and smell are closely linked and work together to help consumers make buying decisions. Color trends stimulate perfumers in the creation of new and different fragrances, the study says, and the distinctive colors of a product and its packaging set expectations among consumers about how the product should smell. Conducted among female consumers in Atlanta, the study demonstrated that people can describe the 'scent' of selected colors, and typically use the same words to describe the scent's emotional effect.
'Traditionally, perfumers have depended on the product itself for creative inspiration – or on how products in a category should be perceived,' says Arylessence President Steve Tanner. 'Our research shows that color works even more effectively to shape consumer expectations, and that the colors of a product and its packaging translate into winning fragrances that reflect the power of the whole brand.'

Don't let me catch you decanting that powerful leather juice into a bottle with pink frou frou or that sweet girly gourmand into a smooth sand-blasted aluminum can...


  1. annemariec23:59

    Really interesting. I'm wondering about the implications for perfumers/companies that bring out their perfumes in uniform boxes and bottles. Numerous examples come to mind, especially among the niche and indie lines. Some do vary the colour of the labels, but some, eg Diptyque, dont; even do that.

    Of course the colour of the varies a little and I have assumed that this is usually deliberate unless the perfume is an all natural product. It's notable that 'clean' fragrances ofen come as very pale of completely colour-free juice.

  2. What annemariec said.

  3. It makes me think that unless a perfume house is actually trying to sell an image, it might make sense to have perfumes in clear bottles so that one is not swayed by the colour and design when interpreting scents.

    It reminds me of this study where red food colouring was added to white wines and people actually started describing the wines in terms that are normally reserved for red wines. ( It's surprising how the brain can trick us.

  4. Yes thats why many companies are now moving to mono-tone, if you wish, bottles like the Exclusifs from Chanel or the bell jars/rectangle bottles from Serge Lutens.

    There is no color. That way you are not discouraged.

  5. Annemarie,

    you're absolutely right about niche lines. This is probably why they eschew colour & design variety: to focus on smell and names...
    I agree that "clean" scents are usually transparent; it all has to do with the mental image I suppose. It would be jarring to think that chamomille essential oil is naturally vivid blue (which it is)!

  6. Onyxode,

    the research probably focused on mainstream perfumery. At least, from the bulk of research and tests and blind stuff experimentation I have seen going on over the years, the specimens were taken from the mainstream market or very well known brands. These are indeed the ones who first think about design, promotion/marketing and packaging and only later of the actual scent as an afterthought...Makes some sense in relation to results found, eh?

  7. Frida,

    ha, yeah, thanks for bringing that link about the wine tests, I recall this vividly. Isn't it funny how the human mind works? Suggest an idea (by some indirect means, such as colour for instance) and then there is a one-track train of thought working. I suppose that mainstream companies, which are the ones whose wares are used usually in such research, do think of colour and design first and foremost. They're selling the image, rather than the perfume. Hence everything smells more or less the same. Or do you disagree?

  8. Saif,

    I'd like to think of them as an incentive to discover without hindrances what one likes based on scent. Then again, there are the names and the hue of the liquid suggesting ideas as well: who can deny that the dark purple of Sarrasins invokes certain images or that the name Tubereuse Criminelle isn't suggestive? Sycomore is green and named somewhat after a greenish tree, Beige is beige-tinted and reminiscent of fabrics and couture...I'm sure you can come up with more examples.

    But I prefer the niche approach, true.


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